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Florida Bar investigates high profile Irish attorney after visa scam claim

The Florida Bar Association is investigating a high-profile Irish immigration lawyer after claims made against her by an Irish client.

Richard Kirby claims a nightmare experience with high-profile Caro Kinsella, a Florida-based Irish immigration lawyer, and has warned other Irish people of the financial traps they may fall into in attempting to acquire a visa to the US. He says he was charged $18,000 for work that usually costs an average of $3,000 and he believes that he was never eligible for the visa he was put forward for because of the way it was processed.

Kinsella was previously brought to the attention of IrishCentral in 2012 when her office was offering assistance in applying for the Diversity Visa lottery (more commonly known as the green card lottery) for $200. Although the application is free, Kinsella told our sister publication the Irish Voice that some people preferred to have help from a lawyer as difficulties could arise in uploading pictures.   Irish immigration centers stated at the time there was absolutely no way any money should have been charged for filling out a very simple form and that doing so was exploiting the undocumented.

Kirby, originally from Co. Kerry, retained Kinsella in January 2015 to help him acquire a "self-petitioned" H-1B visa to allow him to work in the US. Kirby claims, however, to have been misled by Kinsella regarding the requirements for successfully applying for this visa. He also claims to have suffered from further financial extortion when it had already become apparent to him he was not eligible for the H-1B visa and when the cap for applications had already been reached.

Kirby filed a complaint against Kinsella, a popular commentator on immigration issues in the Irish media, through the Florida Bar. He said the first investigation was closed when Kinsella claimed the documents Kirby had filed were false. The investigation was reopened recently, however, when Kirby presented further evidence of Kinsella's alleged misconduct. IrishCentral confirmed with the Florida Bar that the investigation is still on-going, although no further information could be released.

In a written statement to IrishCentral, the Law Offices of Caro Kinsella denied all charges brought against them by Kirby, claiming that he had altered the history of their print communications to make false allegations. The offices were also confident that the second investigation would come to the same findings and all charges brought by Kirby would be cleared. 

“We are well aware of Mr. Kirby; he has a history of making false allegations regarding our law practice,” the statement read.

“He did contact the Florida Bar alleging several false allegations and even provided doctored documents which they have on file, the Bar counsel reviewed our detailed reply (which is client privileged) and dismissed the case quickly. Mr. Kirby has insisted on further fake allegations and the FL Bar will dismiss hence why he is now contacting media.

“Our practice keeps a clear paper trail of all communication and transparent so any allegations made against us are easily rebutted.”

Kirby branded this rebuttal as “pretty comical,” telling IrishCentral: “All the documents are real and nothing has been doctored. I can assure you of that.”

Then living in Dublin, Kirby looked to move to the US in 2015 and reached out to Kinsella about the “self-petitioning H-1B” when he says a member of her Florida office, Rebekah Calloway, contacted him about a discount on the visa application. Following a consultation phone call with Kinsella, Kirby retained her for $5,500. He claims this was the last time he was able to reach her on the phone despite numerous attempts. He says he even asked his brother to contact the office on one occasion in the hope that he would be put through to Kinsella.

Kirby, claims, he paid $18,000 for a H1-B visa he never obtained. It should have cost just $3,000.

The average fees incurred when applying for an H-1B are in the region of $3,000. Aside from the initial “discount” he was offered, Kirby calculates that he gave upwards of $18,000 to the law offices, despite the fact he believes he was advised to apply for a visa he was not eligible for.

Immigration lawyers explained to IrishCentral that some kind of employee/employer relationship must exist in order to make a successful petition for an H-1B visa. As such, Kirby was required to register a business in the US that would file the petition on his behalf.

However, these same lawyers explained that this would still not have made Kirby eligible for the H-1B unless it could be shown that some kind of employee-employer relationship existed. That is, he would have to demonstrate that his work is controlled by others. An example of this would be if a board of directors of a company could be shown to have a say over the work of the sole owner.

Read more: What Trump's immigration moves mean for the Irish ― worries about H-1B visas

As the sole employee of his new business, Kirby would not have met these requirements yet recounts shelling out an extra $2,000 for a business plan he claims he never saw and paying $1,495 to Kinsella to set up a business bank account at BMO Harris in Orlando, 200 miles from where the law offices were then stationed in Fort Lauderdale.

Kirby said he was told that Kinsella had charged the fee as she was directly involved in setting up the account, but he claims to have a confirmation letter from the bank manager stating that the account was established by one of her employees over the phone. IrishCentral made efforts to contact the bank manager but he was no longer available at the number provided.

According to the rules set out by the US Department of Labor, no employee may pay the attorney fees or petition for the H-1B visa themselves. The employer should fulfill those requirements. As such, Kirby states that the application went in direct violation of this law, as he can provide bank statements which show his personal account being charged for the attorney’s services.

Emails provided to IrishCentral by Kirby appear to show that the Kinsella's law office, now based in Miami, requested a further $1529.15 to have his college degree evaluated, a fee that supposedly included a 15% discount. Through his own personal research, Kirby later discovered that this three-day evaluation process could be acquired for as little as $90.

On top of the this, applications for the H-1B visa in the US have a deadline of April 1 each year but remain open until a cap is reached. Even if applications are submitted successfully, the visa program has a quota and is essentially a lottery system through which you cannot be sure whether you will receive the visa of not. Kirby told IrishCentral he was not informed of this at the beginning of the process with Kinsella’s offices and was under the impression that once the application was submitted in time, he would undergo an embassy interview as a formality and then be free to travel to the US.

“It was in March of that year before I found out that there is a cap and a quota and that it was a lottery, in fact, the H-1B process,” he said.

“That was news to me and I became very anxious at the time because I know someone over here [the US] and they told me they'd heard stories about her, how she brings people up to the deadline and she tries to extract further fees from them. So that's exactly what I experienced from April 1 to April 7.

“The most egregious part of dealing with her related to the days in the run-up to the deadline,” Kirby continued.

“Typically the deadline is April 1 for the H-1B, but the USCIS allows another five days typically to file if the cap is not reached. I was receiving emails on the final day for more ‘rush processing’ fees via email despite the cap having been reached and the deadline having been passed. I knew that the cap had been reached by a simple google yet I was receiving emails for more money.

"She claimed in an email on that date that my file was with a courier on its way to the USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services], but this could not have been."

“I even have an email to Caro letting her know that the cap had been reached despite demands for further fees. She claimed in an email on that date that my file was with a courier on its way to the USCIS, but this could not have been the case as it was not signed and was missing many other things that USCIS require to accept the petition. It is clear that I was brought right up to the deadline so further fees could be extracted from me.”

Read more: Figures give dramatic picture of Irish as the founding immigrants in the USA

Since his experience, Kirby has successfully applied for a different visa through other means and has moved to the US. He has continued to attempt to build a case against Kinsella, however, by talking to various immigration and malpractice lawyers, compiling all written communication with her as evidence.

Earlier this year, Kirby sent a final request letter to the offices asking for a reimbursement of the costs incurred as his visa application was not submitted in time. Despite giving a deadline of April 9, he said he did not receive a response.

He also acquired the help of a Florida-based private investigator who researched Kinsella. Just last week the investigator visited the office address supplied on the law office’s website and found that it was an executive office with no employee of the firm present.

While Kirby cites mostly anecdotal evidence of others who are similarly dissatisfied with Kinsella's practice, another Irishman, John Brennan, also describes himself as an unhappy customer. Brennan lives in Ireland but travels to the US several times a year to oversee businesses he runs here. Brennan acquired a visa through Kinsella’s law offices but feels that he was advised to apply for an inappropriate option and, as a consequence, paid exorbitant fees. He has since changed attorneys to handle all his visa issues in the future.

A well-known talking head on US immigration in Ireland, Caro Kinsella is not registered with the Florida bar but is a registered attorney in New York State. As immigration is a federal issue, she is free to practice immigration law in any state as long as she is not working in any other areas of law.

Kinsella is listed as Caro Calloway-Kinsella in the database of attorneys registered to practice in New York with her address listed as the same executive office address supplied on her website. She is listed as having no public record of discipline.

A native of Co. Limerick, Kinsella received her education at University College Cork and London Metropolitan University. Kinsella is set to hold several US immigration seminars in Ireland over the coming months.  

Do you have an immigration horror story? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Irish America bids a fond farewell to Martin McGuinness at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Martin McGuinness was remembered at a month’s mind mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral last night.

Close to a thousand Irish Americans joined members of the McGuinness family and Sinn Féin’s deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald in paying their respects to the IRA-commander-turned-peacemaker. Also present was Irish Consul General Barbara Jones and film director and Oscar-winner Jim Sheridan

Accompanied by the skirl of bagpipes, the last of the congregation filed in and Monsignor Robert Ritchie began proceedings by declaring McGuinness “a man of history, a man of destiny, a man of peace.”

He told the congregation that a month’s mind mass was a great Irish and Catholic tradition. This month’s mind would be “a special way of remembering” Martin McGuinness and there was nowhere more appropriate in North America than St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. To this day the building remains “the epitome of being Irish in America” and has been of “great comfort to so many people.”

Cathy McGuire sang a rendition of “Here I am Lord” and Mary Lou McDonald read a reading, “A Time for Everything” from the Book of Ecclesiastes; there is it tells us “A time to be born, a time to die… a time to kill and a time to heal… a time for war and a time for peace.” McGuinness’ was a life that touched by all those things.

Mary Lou McDonald on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

“The Gospel emphasizes blessed are the peacemakers,” Fr Ritchie sermonized. “One of the most important things I can do is be a peacemaker… We need more Martins, people who will make peace actual and real.”

A prayer was offered that, “The people of Ireland endure peace after 800 years of conflict.”

Further prayers were offered for the souls of the 1916 rebels, the Manchester Martyrs and the leaders of the United States, Ireland and the other nations of the world. A further plea asked that the United States “preserves a fair immigration policy” so that Irish immigrants could choose to make their lives in America for generations to come.

Former Senator and US Envoy to Northern Ireland George Mitchell delivered the eulogy joking that very little had been achieved in his first year because “it took me one year to understand what anyone was saying!”

But once there, “I discovered my Irish heritage, Martin McGuinness and more!”

He reflected that “his leadership was a major factor in the negotiations... and the peace that endures today.” Throughout his whole life, he added, McGuinness had been guided by “strengthened by his family and by his faith.”

“Truly,” he finished, “[he was] one of the most important figure of modern Ireland.” The congregation rose to their feet and applauded him down from the altar.

Former Senator and US Envoy to Northern Ireland George Mitchell.

The ceremony concluded with the singing of Amhrán na bhFiann and the Star Spangled Banner; the latter saw a clutch of hands raised dutifully over hearts as native born and immigrant alike sang America’s anthem.

Men in Aran sweaters marched out bearing Ireland and America’s two flags and the congregation followed – silver-haired pensioners in their Sunday best intermingling with dozens of tricolor sash wearers and a least one millennial wearing a Bobby Sands ‘81’ jersey.   

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Fifth Ave.

Speaking on the steps of St. Patrick’s, Mary Lou McDonald paid tribute to Martin McGuinness as a man who left an incredible mark on Irish history. He was a committed Republican, but he knew how to work with others, she said, pointing to his ten years working with three different DUP leaders at Stormont.

His legacy would be the success of the peace process McDonald said. She praised Irish America for its stalwart support of Sinn Féin through thick and thin. “Our friends in America have made  a huge difference,” she said, “but we must not sit back, there is much to be done.”

On Monday, Irish senator Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin’s Deputy Leader, IrishCentral’s Founder Niall O’Dowd, Marty Glennon and Joseph Smith from Friends of Sinn Féin joined IrishCentral on Facebook to discuss:

Remembering Martin McGuinness - his extraordinary work and legacy

Remembering Martin McGuinness - his extraordinary work and legacy - with Mary Lou McDonald - Sinn Féin, Niall O'Dowd, Marty Glennon, and Joseph Smith at his Bobby Van's W50th.

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Monday, April 24, 2017
Birthday party for Hitler at an Irish-owned restaurant broken up by owners, anti-racism group

An anti-fascist group gatecrashed a group of Nazis apparently celebrating Hitler’s birthday in an Irish restaurant in Kentucky.

The Louisville Anti-Racism Action Group (ARA) issued a statement on its website stating: "A group of area white supremacist posters from the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer were celebrating Adolph Hitler last evening when they were asked to leave the Irish Rover by the owners after being outed by Louisville Anti-Racist Action.

Louisville ARA arranged for a crowd of approximately 40 members of the Louisville community to confront the group, and provided screenshots to the crowd and to the owners of the establishment to support their actions. The crowd chanted 'Nazis out' until the group left."

For more than 15 minutes the group shouted “Nazis out!” at the diners until they left the restaurant.

ARA posted photos of the group, associated with the Dark Stormer website, who were celebrating Hitler's birthday.

Irish Rover owners Michael and Siobhán Reidy said they were horrified when the told their restaurant was hosting a celebration of the dead dictator’s birthday. Michael is a County Clare native.

"We had some folks in there that we would never have in normally, the undesirables, the white-supremacist folks," Michael Reidy admitted. "We weren't aware of it obviously and they were celebrating an unsavory event and the other folks came in.

"We understand and we asked the white supremacists to leave. It was the right thing to do. And we feel good about it. We feel it was handled appropriately."

He added that most of the other customers had supported the ARA’s actions.

None of the group had ever been seen in the restaurant before and likely will never again.

One man seen in the video, Scott Hess, spoke to WAVE 3 News and denied they were Nazis. He said they were just out having dinner as friends.

"According to these people and groups, Trump and his supporters were also 'neo-Nazis. Anyone they disagree with is called a Nazi. They're the bootboys of the radical left. Antifa are domestic terrorists by definition."

"The Antifa attacked the entire restaurant. They attack Trump supporters. They attack reporters, too. They attack anyone who's not a radical anarchist. We will not be intimidated. We will defend our people. We will prevail."

Read more: The #WeAreIrish hashtag on Twitter just got very racist

H/T: WAVE3.com

New Yorker handed keys to Dublin’s Guinness’ for overnight stay

A New Yorker has won the privilege of being presented with the keys to St. James’s Gate, Guinness’ iconic Dublin brewery, in the first competition of its kind – Airbnb’s “Night At.”

For 24 hours the Gravity Bar at Guinness Storehouse, was transformed for James Morrissey and his wife Kaitlin. The lucky pair were treated to a Guinness VIP experience complete with a tasting bar and private butler, “perfect pint”-shaped bed, pool table, life-sized Jenga, and giant telescope for a night under the stars.

Airbnb’s unique competition ran in March. Guinness’ Gravity Bar was listed as a residence on Airbnb’s website, offering one lucky beer fan and a friend the opportunity to be the first people to spend a night at the Home of Guinness.

Guinness Storehouse's Gravity Bar, where James and his wife bedded down for the night.

To be in with a chance to win entrants were invited to answer the following question:

‘What makes you the world’s biggest Guinness fan?’

The responses were apparently overwhelming, with over 40,000 entries from across the globe, but one entry stood out among them all – James Morrissey from New York!

The lucky New York couple recieve the key to Guinness Storehouse.

The couple was welcomed by Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer, Baileys & Smirnoff, before being handed the keys to the Guinness Storehouse. They experienced life behind the gates with rare access into the heart of the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery, the production site that has been home to the Guinness Brewery since 1759, when its owner Arthur Guinness signed a lease for 9,000 years.

Starting at No.1 Thomas Street, family home to Arthur, Guinness Archivist Eibhlin Colgan took the pair on a journey through the history of the brewery along 19th Century railway tracks and through hidden tunnels, telling the rich story of the Guinness family heritage. They enjoyed a full Guinness Storehouse experience with private tour topped off with a six-course dining experience, designed with Irish ingredients and Guinness pairings by Guinness Storehouse Executive Chef Justin O’Connor and served in the surroundings of the Gravity Bar.

A Guinness pint shapped bed at the home of the black stuff.

Their menu included oysters served three ways, Irish beetroot with Ardsallagh goat's cheese mousse, oat biscuit crumble and mizuna, Guinness grain-fed beef rib, shitake & Korean red chilli broth, grilled scallop, smoked salmon belly bonbon, spiced cauliflower, pickled rainbow carrot & caper & chilli dressing, and Guinness grain-fed beef fillet, pomme anna, foie gras mushroom purée, Guinness jus.  The lucky couple’s dessert table included Guinness chocolate mousse, white chocolate popcorn, dried raspberries, macaroons, mango, warm Bramley apple crumble, Guinness ice cream & chocolate sphere.

Read more: The 8,000-year history of Irish cuisine

Following the ‘Night at’ the Guinness Storehouse, James and Kaitlin were treated to an Irish breakfast before meeting with Guinness Brewer, Peter Simpson, who taught them how to create their very own Guinness brew.

“James’s passion and knowledge of Guinness and the Storehouse was evident from his entry and he captured the true character of St. James’s Gate, which is filled with hundreds of years of history,” said Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse.

“We’re proud of Guinness’ heritage, and are delighted to welcome such a worthy and enthusiastic winner through the gates.”

The lucky couple, grinning from ear to ear.

The Gravity Bar, where the couple actually stayed, is the symbolic ‘Head of the Pint,’ Dublin’s highest bar and features unparalleled panoramic, 360-degree views of the city through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The transformation of the space into a luxury penthouse was curated by renowned interior designer Graham O’Donnell and featured a balance of contemporary Irish craft furniture alongside original Guinness artifacts from the Guinness Archives, including notable works such as the Guinness Toucan.

In 2016, the Guinness Storehouse welcomed 1.65 million visitors from around the world. The Storehouse building was once the brewery fermentation plant and is now a seven-story visitor experience, where visitors discover what goes into the making of each pint of Guinness, as well as learning about the notable brand history which stretches over 250 years.

Read more: Raise a Guinness and celebrate friendship, conversations and togetherness

Uncovering your Irish ancestor’s secrets online

Beginning your search for your Irish ancestors came seem daunting at first. Many people initially only have a name, a vague address and perhaps a faded photo to go by but with the use of billions of Irish records online answer to all your questions are within reach.

With billions of Irish records from Ancestry.com and the breakthrough science of AncestryDNA, you can uncover details about your Irish heritage and find out how it all fits into your unique family story.

On Ancestry’s Irish collections page you'll find record collections, history, and genealogy resources to help you trace your Ireland ancestors.

In their Vital Records unit, you’ll discover moments that defined your ancestors’ lives – from births and baptisms to marriages and deaths. The Census Records can show you their family’s names, addresses, occupations, religious affiliations, and more. From the Church Records, you can learn new details about your ancestors’ parishes and congregations.

If you’re still not done you can delve into Ancestry’s Other Records and find a deeper context about the life and times of your Irish ancestors. These records include New York Emigrant Savings Bank, 1850–1883, Ireland, Lawrence Collection of Photographs, 1870–1910, and the Irish Canadian Emigration Records, 1823–1849.

* There are many paths to finding your family story. Whichever way you choose—tracing your family generations back with a family tree or uncovering your ethnicity with AncestryDNA—Ancestry be here to help you. For more visit www.ancestry.com.

Read more: A history of Irish surnames: Learn about your Irish last name

Boston cop’s family praises Tom Brady and Patriots' kindness

The family of a slain Massachusetts police officer has praised quarterback Tom Brady and his Patriots teammates for their kindness after the cop’s tragic death.

On May 22, 2016, Ronald Tarentino Jr. was shot and killed in the line of duty while on patrol in Auburn, leaving his wife Tricia to raise their three sons.

The Boston Herald reports that Brady and his Patriots teammates rallied to raise $86,000 for the fallen officer’s family. Brady donated a signed home game jersey that sold for $6,000 at a fundraiser, while Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski also pitched in gear.

Tricia said of Brady, who started the campaign: “That immediate response shows where his heart is at, and that Ron’s death has made an impact on him as well,” Tricia Tarentino told the Herald yesterday. “Ron was just that kind of person. He had an amazing personality and wanted to reach out to help others. I think that’s why so many people have responded to this tragedy. It’s just a great loss.”

She said his generosity also helped to lift her boys’ spirits.

“They’ve grown up watching Tom Brady and looking up to him,” Tricia Tarentino said of her sons, Ronald III, 21; Spenser, 18; and Kyle, 15.

“I can’t even tell you how great their response was. They were blown away. They were so excited. He is a role model that my boys will now, because they have that personal connection, will always look up to more than they already did.”

She added: “We have the deepest gratitude for his kindness and generosity. Just reaching out to our family in our time of need is unbelievable,” she said. “We’re so fortunate that he is part of the greater New England family and was kind enough to donate his time to do this. To be there for us, it means a lot to us.”

The wife of Ronald Tarentino’s friend Rob Bjorkgren, also a police officer, was the one to approach Brady at his annual Best Buddies bike ride a few days after Tarentino was killed during a routine traffic stop.

Bjorkgren’s wife Nicole asked Brady for 10 seconds of his time while she explained the tragedy.

“I really want to help,” Brady told Nicole.

“I couldn’t even believe it was coming out of my mouth,” she recalled. “I can’t say enough about him as an individual.”

Marc Ginsburg, a mutual friend, and owner of the Tewksbury Country Club, then helped out and Brady’s jersey was soon on the way.

“Nicole is such an amazing woman,” Tricia Tarentino said. “She’s got the biggest heart, and she was just trying to help us in any way that she could.”

Brady emailed them an autographed home-game Patriots jersey three weeks later, to use for the auction. Edelman then found out and shipped over a signed football. Gronkowski also joined in with his own signed jersey.

Brady’s jersey was the most coveted item of the Aug. 11 auction.

The Boston Herald reports that due to the overwhelming support the family received, Tricia Tarentino has since reached out to the families of fallen first responders to assist.

Read more: Tom Brady connection to Irish Famine ancestors from Boston discovered

What you should know about Guinness Blonde American Lager

Inspired by a lager created in collaboration between Guinness and a New York brewer in the 1960s, Blonde American Lager matches Guinness stout yeast with American malt and three varieties of American hops. Here, Guinness brewers in Dublin talk about how they conceived and developed the recipe. A true Irish-American lager, the beer is produced in partnership with brewers in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Remembering the 4,000 Irish who died at Gallipoli this Anzac Day (VIDEOS)

Today, on Anzac Day (April 25), Ireland remembers the 4,000 Irishmen who lost their lives at Gallipoli, and during World War I, while fighting alongside the allied forces. 

Anzac (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day, an annual commemoration noted around the world world due to the massive size of the military campaign. During Winston Churchill's ill-fated eight-month campaign to force the Ottomans out of the World War I and open the eastern front against Germany, over 100,000 men lost their lives. Their battle with Turkish forces of the Ottoman Empire was a catastrophic. The allied soldiers from Britain and Ireland and France, spent the rest of the year bogged down before retreating in December.

Last year, RTE journalist David Davin-Power released a new documentary, entitled “Gallipoli – Ireland’s forgotten Heroes,” highlighted how until recently the story of the Irish at Gallipoli remained largely untold.

Sadly, many of the Irishmen and their fellow soldiers, now lie in unmarked graves which are strewn across this foreign rugged landscape – their memories neglected for far too long. Davin-Power followed the stories of the horrific conditions and deaths in the trenches hacked into the hard Turkish soil.

As part of the documentary the grandnephew of a young rugby player tells how their granduncle volunteered with his pals, thinking he was heading for ‘a great adventure’ but ended up being killed along with many of his friends. Another tale follows a man who left the family cottage in Tipperary to emigrate to Australia. He ended up signing up for the Anzacs and being killed in the first couple of days.

Ataturk – the Turkish commander who went on to lead his country – is quoted as having said of the thousands buried there “You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries.

“Wipe away your tears – your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace…having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”

Davin-Power’s own grandfather – Jack Power, from Kimmage, County Dublin – was one of the lucky ones who returned, but as Davin-Power admits “he became a prey to drink.”

Those who returned in 1916, had left as heroes, and were now coming back to an Ireland which had been transformed.

The song the Foggy Dew reflects the popular few at the time that it was “Better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than at Sulva or Sedd al Bahr.”

Another awful twist of fate is that some of the soldiers sent to Dublin in 1916 were Australians and New Zealanders, hardened soldiers from Gallipoli, many with Irish ancestry themselves, forced to battle civilians and quell a rising.

Sadly, many of those Irish World War heroes lucky enough to return suffered a great deal of shame, for having fought with the British among the allied, as the Ireland they had known was finding its Independence.

However, now, over 100 years on we remember the 200,000 Irishmen who fought in the First World War and the 49,000+ were killed. The sheer volume of these figures shows the human impact of the war on the island of Ireland.

Read more: My grandfather's war - tracing the footsteps of an Irish doctor in WWI (PHOTOS)

McIlroys honeymooning on fabulous Caribbean island

Loved up honeymooners Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll are said to be spending their honeymoon in a beautiful development in the Caribbean on Canouan Island, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, according to local sources. It is located just 25 minutes from Barbados.

The spectacular private island is mostly owned by Dermot Desmond, one of Ireland's most successful businessmen, who also attended the spectacular McIlroy nuptials, at Ashford Castle in County Mayo, on Saturday.

The Pink Sands Club charges an incredible $13,000 per night and is considered one of the finest resort places in the world.

The ten-day honeymoon will also take in a stop in the Turks and Caicos coral island chain, says the local source.

McIlroy's plan on stopping off at Turks and Caicos during their paradise honeymoon.

The Pink Sands Club features 24 suites, two penthouses and 20 ­villas. It has its own golf course, if Rory fancies a practice round or two, and has a luxurious spa and four restaurants and is located on the island’s untouched Godahl Beach.

Read more: Rory McIlroy says he'd “think twice” before playing golf with Donald Trump again

Irish billionaire start-up immigrant says the American Dream continues

These days, the idea has taken root the American Dream is finished, done, kaput.  Just last week, The New York Times noted that a key message in The Fourth Turning, a book beloved by Trump advisor Steve Bannon, is that “the American Dream is dead.”

County Kildare native Sean Conlon disagrees.

“I am the epitome of the American Dream. I came here with $500 and a job as an assistant janitor and was able to build a real estate company that does over $1 billion a year. America is the most level playing field in the world,” said Conlon, host of a TV show on CNBC entitled The Deed, which runs every Wednesday through April 19.

The Deed takes a close look at the good, bad, and ugly of the real estate world, something Conlon knows plenty about.

In an e-mail interview with the Irish Voice, Conlon discussed his youth in Ireland, his initial hard times in America and why he still believes immigrants are the key to success here.

“My first three years in America (in Chicago), I worked as an assistant janitor and studied at night to sell real estate part time,” said Conlon.  “I taught myself everything there was to know about the neighborhood. I believe that when preparation meets hard work you will find opportunity. I was at the vanguard of revitalization of the North Side.”

Conlon attributes many things to his success, including his parents, who raised him to revere hard work and education in Rathangan.

“My father was a dreamer, an attempted entrepreneur who tried his hand at numerous businesses with varying degrees of failure,” said Conlon, who initially worked for Lehman Brothers in London before moving to Chicago.  “My mother was a big component of education and hard work. My dad believed charisma could get you anywhere. The combination of the two worked for me.”

Asked when he was finally able to step back and consider himself a “success,” Conlon’s first answer is, “I still don’t.”

However, he added, “If there was a memory of achieving financial independence seared in my mind’s eye, it’s in 1995 when I bought my father a Mercedes for Christmas.”

Not that success came fast or easy.

“When I came here I had no plan, no direction, just a burning ambition to succeed. I improvised,” said Conlon, who, by the late 1990s was generating hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate sales.  By the first decade of the 21st century, Conlon’s companies were hitting the billion dollar mark.

And though many challenges remain, for Americans as well as their country, Conlon still believes immigrants like himself are “the lifeblood of America.”

He added, “While America is a place, it’s more a frame of mind and the countless contributions of immigrants that have washed up on this shore are too numerous to account for.  With particular focus on the Irish in America, they were the unsung heroes who built roads, canals and buildings who don’t have statues or books written about them. Most have passed in the midst of time, but have left an indelible mark on this country’s landscape and psyche.”

And to those coming to the U.S. today from Ireland -- or Ghana or Pakistan or the Dominican Republic -- Conlon offers this advice.

“This is still the land of opportunity and remember that your hardest times will lead to your greatest times.”

Perhaps the same can be said about America as well.

Read more: What the Green Card meant to my Irish immigrant family

Watch Live: IrishCentral remembers Martin McGuinness with Mary Lou McDonald

It’s been just over one month since the death of Northern Ireland’s long-serving Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and the communities and political landscapes of Northern Ireland, Ireland and Irish America are still coming to terms with his sudden departure.

Irish Senator Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin’s Deputy Leader, is currently in New York and joined IrishCentral’s Founder, Niall O’Dowd, as well as Marty Glennon and Joseph Smith from Friends of Sinn Féin in a discussion on McGuinness’ legacy. Below is a recording of the live stream from IrishCentral’s Facebook page.

Click over to our Facebook page to watch, and read more about McGuinness’ life in the stories below.

Month’s Mind memorial mass for Martin McGuinness to be held at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Why Martin McGuinness will be remembered for hundreds of years to come

How Martin McGuinness and Bill Clinton made peace in Ireland

"To honor him we must finish his work," Bill Clinton at the Martin McGuinness funeral

As soldier and statesman Martin McGuinness leaves an incredible legacy

Ed Sheeran’s Irish granny hears his song about her for the first time (VIDEO)

Ed Sheeran wrote a song about his Irish grandmother for his new album Divide, and she hears it for the first time in this video from RTÉ.

In the recent interview, Sheeran's Wexford granny, 92-year-old Anne (also called Nancy) talks about her super star grandson and his musical talents. She also, for the first time, listens to the song “Nancy Mulligan”, which is played for her on a mobile device.

The Irish folk tune is told from the point of view of his grandfather William Sheeran, who falls in love with the Irish lass despite their differing Catholic-Protestant religious backgrounds and her father’s opposition to the relationship.

On the summer day when I proposed
I made that wedding ring from dentist gold
And I asked her father, but her daddy said, "No
You can't marry my daughter"

She and I went on the run
Don't care about religion
I'm gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border

“Nancy Mulligan” is one of two songs on the 26-year-old singer/songwriter’s third album that uses a traditional Irish sound. The other song is “Galway Girl.”

"I don’t think enough people use [Irish music] in pop music," Sheeran said recently. "For some reason it’s considered twee and old, but it’s such exciting, youthful music, it should be at the forefront of pop culture. Hopefully if these songs are successful, more people will do a bit more like it."

In the video, Sheeran’s Wexford grandmother says “I never think of him as famous, you know, I have to say. Because he is exactly the same as he always was when he visits. And it’s very rare because he’s always working.”

After listening to the song written about her, she says, laughing: “It was fine. As long as I’m not the one playing it.”

Another song on the album, "Supermarket Flowers" is about his maternal grandmother, who passed away while Sheeran was making the record.

Obscene Martin McGuinness banner hung on Glasgow bridge by Rangers fans

Celtic defeated Rangers 2-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday, but it was an obscene banner hung by Rangers fans attacking Martin McGuinness that made the news.

“Martin McGuinness sucks c**** in hell” read the banner, which was placed on a busy overpass, on Sunday morning, in Glasgow before the game. Two more banners saying, “No surrender Rangers F.C” and “Baillieston True Blues WATP” were also hung on the bridge.

Celtic FC, founded by Irish priests, and Rangers, a Protestant club, have been arch enemies since they first met in 1888. In recent years Celtic has been ascendant.

The late Martin McGuinness photographed with former US president Bill Clinton.

The images appeared on Twitter account “Football Away Days” around 9am.

They were posted with the caption: “Banners some Rangers fans have put up in Glasgow this morning.”

On social media, the public reacted angrily. Paul Brown wrote: “And the bile begins.” Kevin McManus wrote: “Horrendous”, while Pat O’Hara posted “Let the battle commence”.

One of the banners hung above a motorway, posted on Football Away Days' Twitter account.

Police later confirmed that the banners were removed.

A spokeswoman said “Police were made aware of the banners and they were removed by partner agency.

“There will be no further police action at this time.”

The Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister passed away last month after a brief illness. A record 25,000 attended his funeral in Derry. His mourners included former United States President Bill Clinton and ex-first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond.

Thousands of people lining the streets of Derry for McGuinness' funeral in March this year.

Michael Collins' love letters to Kitty Kiernan up for auction in New York

Two love letters from Michael Collins to his fiancée Kitty Kiernan are part of an extensive archive of Easter Rising material that will go up for auction at Sotheby’s in New York on April 24.

“Ireland will have cause to remember her present-day extremists,” wrote Collins to the woman he was engaged to marry the following November. Collins was in London to meet with Winston Churchill as Ireland drifted towards civil war over the Anglo-Irish Treaty which Collins had signed in December 1921.

The wedding never happened. Two months later Collins was shot and killed at Beal na mBlath, Co Cork on August 22, 1922.

This letter and another letter dated March 31 are part of Lot 89 in the sale of the Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III), the Irish Examiner reports. The materials, including 22 pamphlets and books, eight broadsides and handbills, and 29 autograph items from Dublin and London from 1910 to 1925, all relate to the Easter Rising and the Irish Rebellion.

“We came to an agreement on certain things with Craig yesterday— I am not very sanguine about the future from any point of view,” he writes in the March letter.

“We have however secured release of all the prisoners.... but the news from Ireland is very bad and the ‘powers that be’ here are getting very alarmed that there may be a bust-up at any moment.

Michael Collins.

“Were it not for the awful consequences I’d almost welcome it.... yet one has the responsibility. It would be cowardly to shirk from standing up to it.

“The whole business is casting a gloom over me and in spite of what is a big human hope I cannot keep thinking that as a people we are destined to go on dreaming, vainly hoping, striving to no purpose until we are all gone.”

In the June letter he reports: “Things have got very much worse overnight and I am looking forward now to my last appointment with them.

“I’m returning tonight no matter what happens as I feel I can do no more good here. Ireland will have cause to remember her present day extremists.

“The whole thing is ghastly but I’ll tell you more about it when I see you. It was only after my scribble yesterday I heard about Joe McGuinness’s death.

“He is a great loss to us but apart from that I feel the personal loss more keenly. He was the one most responsible for the recent peace. It makes the present position all the more tragic.”

The lot contains a copy of the Proclamation, two copies of the Irish War News and letters and signatures of Charles Stewart Parnell, de Valera, Childers, McBride, WT Cosgrave, The O’Rahilly, Kevin O’Higgins, Desmond FitzGerald and others. Also included is a souvenir program of O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral to Glasnevin Cemetery in August 1915.

Jackie’s secret agent shares memories of JFK’s assassination

 The last surviving Secret Service agent from JFK’s assassination has spoken of his relief after sharing his memories of that fateful day in Dallas.

Clint Hill testified before the Warren Committee into the assassination and also gave an interview to 60 Minutes in 1975, but other than that he never talked about what he witnessed until 2010. Not even to his wife and kids.

Author Lisa McCubbin convinced him to speak to her for her book, ‘The Kennedy Detail’ and he found relieved after doing so.

“I never talked about it with other agents,” he admitted. “It has been cathartic for me to do that - to talk about it and to write about what happened."

The 85-year-old had only been assigned to work on First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s detail that day and spent years wracked with grief about whether he could have saved her husband.

Speaking at a memorial to honor former First Lady Betty Ford - who he came to know whilst working for her husband - Hill recalled, "I was working on the follow-up car immediately behind the presidential vehicle. I heard the first shot fired. I jumped from my position on the follow-up car [and] ran to the presidential vehicle.

"[I had] the intent of getting up on top of the back to form a shield there. But, unfortunately, just as I arrived a third shot hit.

"At that time, Mrs Kennedy came up on the trunk and I grabbed her and put her in the back seat and then I laid on top."

John F Kennedy and Jackie in the motorcade at Dallas on that fateful day.

He did not move again until the Presidential motorcade swept into Parkland Memorial Hospital where doctors battled in vain to stop JFK’s life ebbing away.

"You more or less just react," Hill said. "You see what's happening and you just go into protective mode."

"[I was] trying to cover them up and yelled at the driver to get us out of there as quick as they could.

"You don't have much time to think. Things happen so fast, you just have to react."

Hill remained on Jackie Kennedy’s detailed for a further year before moving back to Washington to work at the White House under Lyndon Johnson.

“After the assassination, she was really strong. [She] stood tall and I think that helped the American people to withstand what did happen that day in Dallas,” he added.

After decades of silence Hill wrote a book about his lengthy career “Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford” was published last year and chronicles his life walking a few steps behind the leaders of the Free World.

Here is Hill’s 1975 interview:

H/T: WoodTV.com/Daily Star.

Young Irish-born funeral home owner says dying is just part of life

Death and funerals are uncomfortable realities, but Irishman Clive Anderson, owner of a New York funeral home, has made it his mission to ease the transition from life to death. He speaks to Debbie McGoldrick about his career choice.

Funeral parlor owner doesn’t usually rank up there on the “things I want to be when I grow up” list, but Clive Anderson, a native of Ballinhassig, Co. Cork who owns the Pelham Funeral Home just north of Yonkers, couldn’t see himself in any other career.

Though he’s only 34, Anderson has owned his business for more than three years.  Dealing with death on a daily basis would wear down many, but not this soft-spoken, passionate about his profession Irishman who decided to enter the funeral business after his father died.  Anderson was only 15 at the time, and vividly recalls when his cancer-stricken dad was removed from the family home in the early hours of the morning, shortly after he passed.

“I remember the funeral director coming to the house at like one in the morning, and that three men got out of their beds to come and remove my father,” Anderson told the Irish Voice during an interview.

“They took him into their care and I remember how they did it, with such reverence and dignity.  They looked at Dad as a man who had lived instead of someone who had just died.  It really made an impression on me. It left a mark on how us Irish celebrate the life of the deceased.”

Anderson’s interest wasn’t a passing one.  Not long after his father’s burial he started apprenticing with Jeremiah O’Connor, the undertaker who buried his father in one of his Cork funeral homes.  He spent his weekdays at school and weekends at the funeral home laying people to rest.

“We would go to career guidance counselors at school and they would ask what you wanted to do with your life, and when I said I wanted to be a funeral director they would say, ‘No, really, quit the jokes,’” Anderson laughs.

“When I said I was serious they would say, ‘Okay, if that doesn’t work out what would you like to do?’ But I was determined to make it work.”

Anderson’s father owned a business selling life insurance.  Sales didn’t ignite any great desire in young Clive, who tried it for a while and soon decided to go full throttle in pursuit of his true calling.  And that led him to one place: America.

The funeral business in Ireland isn’t highly regulated and doesn’t have any educational requirements.  Funeral costs are low compared to what they are in the U.S. but standards suffer dramatically, Anderson says.

“Basically anybody can take a scalpel and call themselves an embalmer in Ireland which is quite upsetting,” he adds.

The higher quality funeral businesses in Ireland usually have American training at their core.  Jeremiah O’Connor learned the art of embalming here, as did David McGowan, a second-generation funeral owner in Co. Mayo.

“I said I would do the same thing, go to America for two years, get my degree and come back to Ireland.  But it didn’t take long until I fell in love with it here and just stayed,” Anderson recalled.

That was 14 years ago.  Anderson went to mortuary school at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and completed the two-year associate degree and apprenticeship at the same time.  The course work was all consuming, including studies in mortuary science, biochemistry, restorative art, cosmetology and business, all of which are necessary components of running a successful funeral home.

“It was very tough and challenging but I enjoyed it,” says Anderson, the sole immigrant in his class and one of the few who didn’t have a family background in the funeral business.

Clive Anderson, owner of a New York funeral home, has made it his mission to ease the transition from life to death.

After completing the degree Anderson remained in Boston working for a company that imported caskets from Ireland.  Heritage Caskets was successful enough, but Anderson remembers it was tough going explaining to funeral directors why an Irish-made casket would enhance their business.

“I remember going to see one of the directors, an Italian guy, and he said to me, ‘You know what you are doing? It’s like what the Italians do, trying to sell tomatoes to Americans when we already have tomatoes in America.’”

Heritage Caskets was eventually bought by a large U.S. conglomerate, and Anderson stayed on as a salesperson.  His job took him to various parts of the Northeast, but he never swayed in his plan to eventually own a funeral business of his own.  

Enter Pelham Funeral Home on Lincoln Avenue in the Westchester town of Pelham, only a few miles from the Irish American strongholds of Yonkers and Woodlawn in the Bronx.  Anderson was familiar with the second-generation owners – eventually he left Boston and settled in New York – and enjoyed a friendly relationship with them through selling caskets.

Wanting a funeral business close to New York City was Anderson’s goal, and Pelham fit to a tee.  He asked the owners about a sale in 2012 but they weren’t interested. Two years later they were.  Anderson closed on the deal in February of 2014.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” he says.   “And I’ve never looked back.”

Life as an undertaker is hardly routine.  Pelham Funeral Home has buried as many as 20 people in a month, and as few as two.  At the end of the year, he says, the numbers balance out.

Death, obviously, is random.  But the emotions connected to it are not and can be hugely difficult to deal with, especially when funerals are being held for children and victims of sudden and unforeseen happenings.

“We wish we never had to have funerals for children or those who die in tragic accidents,” Anderson says.  “But obviously you have to be there when that happens. And for sure, dealing with people when they are grieving does take a toll. 

“I’ve been doing this now for three years, and honestly, I find it so rewarding. I’m not doing it because I have to, or because it’s a family business. I’m doing it because I love to do it.  It’s a true vocation.”

Anderson employs three full time staff and a number of part timers.  He no longer does the embalming himself but oversees every aspect of the business.  Guiding grieving families through the most difficult times of their lives is his foremost priority.

“They are in shock, and I am with them the whole way through. And they are all unique to me,” he responds when asked if any particular funerals stand out.

“Sometimes being the funeral director in a town like Pelham with 13,000 people, it’s like being the mayor for lack of a better term.  Everybody knows you and you get to see everyone.  I never forget the people who I have had to deal with in their time of grief.”

Do funeral businesses compete with each other, given the nature of the services they provide?  Anderson says they do, not with flashy ads that would surely be distasteful but by the quality of the services on offer.

“We are extremely focused on attention to detail, and treating a grieving family as if it was our own family,” he adds.  “A family came in to me this morning and said that I must put 100 percent of myself into this business. I said that I do.”

Anderson has worked extensively with the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, a charity based in Newry, Co. Down that was formed in honor of the late Kevin Bell, a 26-year-old GAA player who died in New York in June of 2013 after a hit-and-run accident.  The well-regarded trust run by Kevin’s father Colin has raised thousands to “alleviate the financial hardship of bereaved families repatriating the body (bodies) of loved one(s) who have died abroad in sudden or tragic circumstances back to Ireland,” says the charity’s mission statement.

Anderson says the Bell family has been instrumental in helping shocked families deal with pressing realities.  “They are great. We have worked with them many times unfortunately,” Anderson says.

“For someone in Ireland to lose a loved one abroad is really tragic. And in America there is a lot to deal with. When Colin Bell makes a phone call, I tell the families involved not to worry about anything because we will take care of everything.”

Anderson is unmarried and splits his time between his apartment on top of the funeral home which he uses when working, and one that he has in Woodlawn. He’s the only Irish native to own a funeral home in the Northeast, and a number of Irish and Irish Americans have been buried or cremated at Pelham Funeral Home.  Anderson is hoping to expand his business, perhaps even to Ireland, though America will remain his primary base.

“I miss the connection and would like to go back to Ireland more often,” he says.   

“We’re all getting older and sometimes it’s hard to just stop and appreciate what it is that we have.  That’s a lesson I’ve learned in this business.”

One Irish lad, ten years, every country in the world

In June 2006, just one day after finishing up his university degree, Johnny Ward set off on an epic worldwide adventure that would see him spend the next ten years visiting every country in the world. Just before St. Patrick’s Day 2017, he finally achieved his goal, touching down in his 197th country – Norway – and celebrating with a beautiful pack of huskies.

The road to 197 has been far from easy. Most of the time Ward traveled alone, funding his journey through his blog and a search engine optimization (SEO) company to keep himself from falling into the red. Apart from taking the leap to fund his travel while on the go, however, Ward has experienced everything from muggings to bribery in his ten years of exploration, but nothing would deter him from seeing as much of the world as he possibly could.  

“Watching a guy get shot in Angola, getting arrested in Ivory Coast, Ukraine, and India. Hospitals in Korea, Thailand, and Burkina Faso. Muggings, bribes, of course – 10 years of traveling, lots of stuff has happened!” Ward told IrishCentral, explaining that while concerned when he visited countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan, and Yemen, his family understood that it was his choice to explore. In total, he has been hospitalized 20 times, arrested twice and has spent time dealing with bribery, gunfire and civil war along the way.

“3/4 or more has been solo. When I was in the early years I had friends come and join, and a couple of crazy friends since then too. The majority has been alone though,” he said.

Ward was born in Galway and raised in Northern Ireland in a single-mother family. He graduated from a university in England in 2006 and traveled to the US to work in summer camps, followed by a stint teaching English in Thailand. Already showing his entrepreneurial spirit, Ward raised the money to venture on these trips by putting himself through medical research at an Irish hospital.

By 2009 he was working in sales in Australia and hating every minute of it, despite making good money.

He bought himself a one-way ticket to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and began receiving offers of money for advertising on his travel blog. After that he never looked back.

Read more: Irish lad makes $1 million visiting every country in the world (PHOTOS)

Ward set up an online media company called Step4Ward Media, which provides web services like creating content and managing SEO. Clocking up about 20 countries a year, Ward has used this site to follow his dreams, avoid the office 9 to 5 life, and make the world his own office.

He visited, on average, 20 countries a year, 33-year-old Ward now has a base in Thailand but is more than happy to return to any part of the world he’s visited. When asked whether there was a favorite country or place he would especially like to return to, Ward answered, “I'd honestly go back everywhere, there's beauty in every corner of the world.”

To reach the end of his quest, however, still came as a relief. “Wow, it was immense. Also, it was a relief. Ten years, to finally achieve my goal, it felt amazing,” he said, explaining that Norway was left until last because “it's safe, beautiful, easy to get to, logistically sound – and of course, the Arctic Circle, Northern Lights, huskies, snowmobiles etc. Pretty cool stuff to finish with.”

After his second last country, Yemen, which took him several attempts to enter before finally hitching a ride on a cement cargo ship to the island of Socotra last month, we can certainly see how going to Norway was a breeze.

While he doesn’t believe he will permanently return to Ireland in the future, Ward does have big plans for his next step now that all countries have been successfully ticked off his bucket list. Ward intends to focus on building his charity GiveBackGiveAway.com, which builds playgrounds for kids in impoverished areas twice a year. Other aims on his list include: traveling around the world in 80 days with no flights, traveling from Bangkok to Belfast in a tuk-tuk, and cycling from San Francisco to New York City.

H/T: Lonely Planet

Fighting for a sacred resting place for thousands of Famine dead on Staten Island

Though they lie buried now in mass graveyards all along the eastern seaboard from Grosse Île in Canada to Staten Island in New York, the Great Hunger dead are still with us. And so they should be.

That is especially true on Staten Island where a huge graveyard of men women and children including babies was discovered during excavation for a massive new building set to house law courts.

The Irish graves of those victims of the Great Famine were disinterred for examination and then reburied, but the story of what happened to those who died just as they had sight of the America still remains largely unknown by the wider Irish community.

By 1847, the darkest year of the calamity, 40 ships containing 14,000 Irish immigrants waited in a line that extended a full two miles down the St. Lawrence River in Canada. The scale of the horror was unprecedented.

100,000 desperate Irish arrived there that year alone, one in five of them dying of disease or starvation on or immediately after their voyage.

Thousands of immigrants arrive at Ellis Island.

About 650,000 Irish arrived in New York harbor through those dark years, passengers on barely seaworthy ships to New York that had to stop for medical inspection on Staten Island.

Passengers with fever were removed to the nearby quarantine station where they either recuperated or quickly succumbed to their illnesses. With no money or prospects – and exhausted by hunger and their long sea voyage – many who luckily survived decided to settle in the local area, the first of a long line of descendants that stretches right down to this day.

Read more: Thousands of Great Hunger victims died in Staten Island quarantine

Lynn Rogers is one of those Irish descendants. The Executive Director of Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries (FACSI), the nonprofit that now cares for thirteen abandoned graveyards on Staten Island, she was instrumental in ensuring that the final resting place of thousands of Irish immigrants who died between 1845 and 1858 on Staten Island was protected and commemorated.

Lynn Rogers, photographed by New York Times.

When New York State announced their intention to build a series of new law courts on the long forgotten Irish famine graveyard in 2000 Rogers group ensured they were made aware of the historical significance of the St. George site, located just a five-minute walk from the Staten Island ferry dock.

“We put the state on notice. This specific cemetery was cut just around the time of the mass emigration of the Famine Irish. It only operated during the massive emigration of the Irish, from about 1847 till about 1852 then it stops. Then they go back to burying the dead further up the hill because the volume wasn’t there. This specific cemetery was for the Irish.”

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries' commemorative headstone for Ireland's Great Hunger victims in the forgotten field.

New York State, anxious to begin construction on their multi-million-dollar courthouse project, insisted that the FACSI group had it all wrong, there was no graveyard. “That meant we had to reach out to the New York State Parks and Historical Preservation Department in Albany. We wanted an archeology survey,” Rogers says.

Boring was carried out on the soil in the early 2000’s and in every hole they dug they found human remains. “They discovered trenches they called sleeves. Eight infants would be buried there, one on top of the other. They would see the shrouds in rows and rows. These were mass graves. But it wasn’t one big pit and they throw you in, it was organized. In ordinary cemeteries it's usually two or three adults in one grave. Here there were three or four on top of each other side by side.”

Hasty as it was, it wasn’t disrespectful Rogers says.

After the corpses in what remained of the Famine plot were rediscovered they were gradually disinterred, and then the question became what to do with them?

Read more: Burying the Irish Famine dead in Staten Island

To tackle this the city set up hearing after hearing to discuss the case and Rogers and a small handful of other committed Irish Americans attended them all. “We would ask what they city planned to do with the graves? Would they exhume them all? What would happen then?”

“We had to wrangle with the State of New York who wanted to put them all in storage boxes in a warehouse in Brooklyn until they decided their fate. We had to fight that. We believed we would never see them again if we didn't watch out.”

To protect the remains and their history Rogers had to attend hearing after hearing in the city and calmly reiterate her suggestions for the site because she feared if the remains left Staten Island they would never be seen again.

Rogers attended many of these hearings with her fellow FACSI member Bill Reilly. “We would often be in a room with fifteen guys in suits from Albany. They would get sarcastic with us. They would say things to me like, “What are we going to do with the bodies, Miss Rogers? UPS them to your house?” They tried to belittle us but I was prepared before every meeting.”

For Rogers it was the principle that mattered most. “My family arrived on Staten Island because of the quarantine when the Irish came in. They stayed here and made a life, it’s as simple as that. We all believe we have family buried in that cemetery.”

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Quarantine Cemetary.

In Rogers view – and the historical records support it – the Staten Island site is as important to the history of the Great Hunger Irish as Montreal and Toronto. Currently the final resting place of the Irish dead is marked with a modest plaque and a small billboard funded by FACSI and a Dublin based Famine commemoration group, when what happened here cries out for a major memorial.

Last winter Rogers and students from the local high schools planted 2,100 spring bulbs that have flowered for the first time this month. Although the call went out for volunteers on the FACSI Facebook page, sadly not a single person from the wider Irish community showed up to participate.

 The tulips started to bloom at the Quarantine Cemetery.

Rogers is not discouraged though. “We’re having a commemorative event here on Sunday, May 21. The details are on our Facebook page. All are welcome to attend,” she adds.

The main goal, she says, has always been to protect the remains and legacy of her Irish ancestors and she has done that successfully, often single handedly. Fate or providence may very well have appointed her. She certainly proved herself equal to the task.

“It was the right thing to do,” she says firmly.

Now it’s finally time for the Irish community and our representatives in New York to acknowledge Rogers decades long commitment and stand beside her to properly commemorate the thousands of Irish whose tragic stories came to an end on this lonely spot. It was always the right thing to do.

The Woman Who Cares for Abandoned Cemeteries by Emily Siegel from Video Storytelling Marvelous on Vimeo.

The Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries have an upcoming memorial event on May 21:

John F. Kennedy branded de Valera a “lunatic” after 1945 visit to Ireland

A young John F. Kennedy called the then-Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland Eamon de Valera a lunatic after visiting his ancestral home in Co. Wexford in 1945.

JFK had recently left the United States Navy after World War II and had gotten a job as a reporter with the newspaper, Hearst, thanks to his father’s extensive connections. The 28-year-old was sent on a “fact-finding” mission in a Europe that been liberated mere months beforehand.

The diary that he kept is now up for auction and reveals that JFK stayed with David Gray, who was then serving as the United States’ Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Ireland (a de facto Ambassador). Gray was uncle to Eleanor Roosevelt by marriage and had frequently clashed with de Valera over his Government’s strict policy of neutrality during the war.

De Valera, for his part, cordially loathed FDR’s man in Dublin; he repeatedly lobbied the White House to remove Gray from his position and at one point he even compared him unfavorably to Hitler’s ambassador to Ireland.

Read more: What did a young John F Kennedy look like during World War II? (PHOTOS)

After controversially calling the German Embassy to express his condolences following the death of the Fuhrer, de Valera wrote, “During the whole of the war, Dr. Hempel’s conduct was irreproachable. He was always friendly and invariably correct - in marked contrast with Gray. I certainly was not going to add to [Hempel's] humiliation in the hour of defeat.”

Clearly, the end of the conflict had not made the relationship any warmer and JFK recorded in his diary, "Mr. Gray's opinion of de Valera was that he was sincere, incorruptible, also a paranoiac and a lunatic.

"His promise is that the partition of Ireland is indefensible. He kept strict neutrality even towards the simplest United States demand," he added.

JFK controversially continues, "Mr. Gray admits that Mr de Valera was not any more friendly to the Germans than he was to us. He does not think German submarines were aided from Ireland, at least with the knowledge of Mr de Valera, although there were many German sympathizers. [Gray] quoted the Cardinal in 1940 as having said 'he would take Germany as soon as England'.

"The Cardinal believes that Ireland was created by God - a single island and people - and partition is, therefore, an offense to God. Gray says the island was maintained by the British during the war - gasoline, shoes, and coal - all were British."

He adds that Gray believed Ireland’s brief but brutal Civil War in the 1920s was the result of de Valera’s “pride”.

Kennedy also weighs in on Ireland’s economy. Under the headline of ‘Finance’, he writes: "Many Irishmen feel that it is a great mistake to be so closely tied up with the sterling bloc.

Read more: Young JFK called Hitler "stuff of legends" in old diary

Eamonn de Valera

"It is bondage, they claim. England has many weapons with which she could strangle Ireland - a tariff on beef, shutting off her credit, as well as the use of force.

"England so far has done remarkably in practicing self-restraint, but Gray believes that on its previous form, it will probably make some serious error in the future."

He also speculates that de Valera’s recovery of the three Irish ports originally kept under British authority as part of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty was a major boost to the Fianna Fáil party going into the 1938 election.

"This has given de Valera ammunition, and has given some substance to his feeling that everything that has been gotten by Ireland from England has been given grudgingly and at the end of a long and bitter battle."

JFK later traveled on to Berlin where he wrote of the former Reich capital, "The stench - sickish and sweet from dead bodies - is overwhelming."

He also declared Hitler to be “the stuff of which legends are made" and thought that one day he “will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived.”

The diary is set to be auctioned on April 26 at RR Auction's Gallery in Boston.

H/T: The Irish Independent/International Business Times

Construction company behind deadly Berkeley balcony collapse has license revoked

The construction company responsible for the balcony that collapsed from a Berkeley apartment in June 2015 killing six Irish students and injuring seven others has lost its license almost two years after the tragic accident.

Although no formal charges were brought against Segue Construction, the general contractors on the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, California, it was found that the company's neglect to properly waterproof the materials used to construct the balcony led to dry-rot which weakened its structure.

The company has now had its license revoked having been accused of “wilfully disregarding” the building plans and "willfully departing from trade standards" in the construction of the apartments.

On June 16, 2015, Ireland and the Irish-American community were struck by tragedy as six young students lost their lives in the balcony collapse.

Olivia Burke, 21; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Lorcan Miller, 21; Niccolai Schuster, 21; Eimear Walsh, 21; and Irish-American Ashley Donohue, aged 22, were celebrating the birthday of fellow J-1 student Aoife Beary when the balcony they were standing on collapsed, flinging them from the fourth-floor apartment to the ground below.

Beary was also injured in the incident, along with a further six students: Hannah Waters, Clodagh Cogley, Niall Murray, Sean Fahey, Jack Halpin and Conor Flynn. Their injuries at the time included a brain injury, a severed spinal cord, shattered knees and elbows, broken limbs, cracked ribs and punctured lungs.

Read more: Ireland remembers the Berkeley balcony tragedy one year on

The six victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse.

Last Friday, the California Contractors State License Board announced an agreement had been reached with Segue Construction to revoke their license and the company is barred from reapplying for another license for the next five years.

While the company is not contesting the decision, they also acknowledge the accusation "involves disputed questions of fact and law".

Holding a contractor’s license in California since March 1992, Segue Construction entered a contract regarding the Library Garden complex in January 2005, completing the work by April 2007.

The California Contractors State License Board, however, found that the construction company did not adhere to the outlined specifications in the construction of the complex's balconies and the accident should not have occurred if they had followed these specifications during construction.

By not including pressure treated joints, using a flooring substance previously deemed unacceptable, and by failing to provide the balcony with adequate waterproofing, the company left the balcony structurally weaker than outlined in the building’s requirements and opened it up to further structural weather damage.

The settlement report deemed that if these requirements had been met, the balcony would have been able to withstand the weight of the students on the night of June 16, 2015.

Before Segue Constructions can ever apply for a further license, the settlement agreed that the company's CEO and Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) at the time of construction Kirk Alan Wallis must pay the Board $99,950 in investigative costs while the company's Officer and RMO at the time of the tragedy, David Michael Dunlop, must also reimburse the Board for investigative costs of up to $15,000.  

Inspection of the balcony a few days after the collapse.

Read more: Lawmakers approve bill in response to Berkeley balcony collapse

Following the accident and the revelation that dry-rot was the main cause of the balcony collapse, it also emerged that Segue Construction had faced previous convictions for poor workmanship which under the State of California law they were not required to disclose when undertaking a new job.

The victims’ and survivors’ families last year set about trying to change this law in the hopes of improving the construction standards in the state in the future, spearheaded by Jackie Donohue who lost bother her daughter Ashley and niece Olivia in the accident.

With thanks to the work of the families and the testimony of critically injured victim Aoife Beary, the state of California implemented legislation late last year that requires contractors to disclose to their regulator any convictions they’ve faced for poor workmanship and will also require state studies on the need to ensure balconies are safer in the future.

H/T: RTÉ

Timeline of Ireland’s 1916 Rising as it happened

In honor of 101 years this month since the 1916 Easter Rising took place, we provide a day by day guide to how the Rising played out. From its beginnings on Easter Monday, the rebellion destroyed the city of Dublin and led to the execution of its leaders after their surrender.   

The suppression of the rebellion sparked outrage among Irish citizens over the execution of the Rising's leaders, generated a nationalist surge leading to support for Sinn Féin and its separatist agenda that would lead to the War of Independence, the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that partitioned Ireland into north and south, and the eventual rejection of the free state's position as a dominion in the British Empire and its establishment as a fully independent republic in 1949.

Some may argue that it also acted as a forerunner to the violence seen during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, with Sinn Féin acting as inheritors of the ideals left behind by the passionate rebellion leaders.

On Easter Monday, 1916, Ireland's Easter Rising began:

Day One


In the days preceding the outbreak of the rebellion, there had been much confusion among the Irish Volunteers. The military action had previously been scheduled to get underway on Easter Sunday until Irish Volunteer leader Eoin MacNeill issued a countermanding order to all volunteers that armed insurrection would not take place.

MacNeill had never believed in the rebellion and had initially been kept in the dark, but on learning what was afoot several months previously, he was convinced to act by the promise of German support and a shipment of German arms that was to be delivered in Kerry by Roger Casement aboard the Aud.

However, when the Aud was intercepted on Good Friday, Casement captured and the shipment of arms lost as the British scuttled the boat, MacNeill ordered Volunteers to stay at home.

Two members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood military council were convinced that the Rising should go ahead and by overruling MacNeill’s order, Thomas Clarke, long thought to be the military mastermind behind the Rising, and socialist leader James Connolly, the founder of the Irish Citizen Army, insisted that the Rising go ahead one day behind schedule on Easter Monday.

Nonetheless, it being 1916 and not having the instant communication abilities we have now, the word about the rescheduled insurrection did not spread far, meaning that the vast majority of Irish Volunteers were still in their homes all around the country when on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, 1,250 members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army assembled across Dublin. 

Read more: 50 facts about the Easter Rising (PHOTOS)

Eoin MacNeill ordered a countermand in an attempt to stop the Rising as Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Volunteers.

Easter Monday 11 am: Around 1,250 members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army, including 200 women from Cumann na mBan, assembled across Dublin.

11:30 am - 12:30 am: Within the first hour of the rebellion, rebels stormed and occupied several of the capital city’s most important political and economic buildings: Jacob’s factory, the Four Courts, Stephen’s Green, the South Dublin Union (now St. James’s Hospital), Jameson Distillery, the Mendicity Institute, Boland’s Mills and Bakery, plus 25 Northumberland Road and Clanwilliam House.

The Volunteers' Dublin division had been divided into four battalions led Proclamation signatories Commandant Thomas MacDonagh and Commandant Éamonn Ceannt; future Irish Taoiseach and President, the New-York born Commandant Éamon de Valera; and Commandant Ned Daly.

The first battalion under Daly made up about 250 men. They occupied the Four Courts, apart from D Company, lead by Seán Heuston, whose 12 men would occupy the Mendicity Institution, across the river from the Four Courts.

The second battalion of 200 men was lead by MacDonagh and assembled in Stephen’s Green with orders to occupy Jacob’s biscuit factory.

De Valera was in charge of the 3rd battalion of 130 men and they would take Boland's Mills.

The fourth battalion, led by Éamonn Ceannt and numbering about 100 men, was to guard against British troops coming from their base in the Curragh Co. Kildare, by taking the South Dublin Union, which was near to the main rail line from the west and southwest.

At Liberty Hall, 400 volunteers under the command of Commandant James Connolly gathered in preparation for the day's action. From there, 100 men and women from the ICA, under Commandant Michael Mallin, were sent to Stephen’s Green just south of Grafton St.

Rebel and British troop locations around the city. Credit: WikiCommons.

At 12 pm, rebels attempted to seize weapons from the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park but, despite disarming the guards, they failed to obtain any arms.

Rebels also failed to take Trinity College Dublin, which was defended by a handful of Unionist students.

Most importantly, however, the General Post Office (GPO) on Sackville Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare (now known as O’Connell St), was stormed, seized and established as rebel headquarters. Customers and staff were expelled from the building and a number of British soldiers who were present were taken prisoner.

All remaining men not within the first four battalions were stationed here, including five members of the military council: draig Pearse, President and Commander-in-Chief, Tom Clarke, James Connolly, Seán Mac Diarmada and Joseph Plunkett

At 12.20 pm, the Tricolour was raised above the GPO, along with a green flag bearing the words “Irish Republic” as the rebels settled in for battle.

The forced entry into the buildings was not without incident, however, and it is believed that in Jacob’s and Stephen’s Green rebels shot civilians who attempted to break down their barriers or to attack them. In other stations, instead of shooting civilians, anyone who showed defiance to the rebels was hit with a rifle butt.

The first official fatality of the rebellion was a non-combatant, a nurse attempting to tend to the injured. Margaret Keough, the grand niece of US Cavalry Captain Myles Keogh, was shot by a British soldier as she responded to shots and attempted to save those injured.

One of two Irish flags flown of the GPO during the Rising.

12:45 pm: To a confused gathering of Dublin citizens, bemused by what they were witnessing, Pádraig Pearse emerged from the GPO to decree the independent Irish Republic for the first time, reading aloud the proclamation he himself had written on behalf of the “Provisional Government” of the new Irish republic.

Still applauded as a work of inspiration, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic set all citizens of Ireland on equal terms – men, women, and children – praising the work of Irish emigrants on behalf of the Irish cause, in particular, “her exiled children in America” without whom, some claim, the Rising may never have happened.

To the average Dublin citizen, the storming of the GPO and other buildings by the rebels was not a cause for celebration as they attempted to carry on with their normal lives, unhappy with the unrest and violence brought to their streets.

The Rubble on Sackville Street.

1:22 pm: On Easter Monday, many British soldiers in Ireland, in particular, those stationed in Dublin Castle, the center of British rule in Ireland, had gone to Fairyhouse racecourse to enjoy the Irish Grand National, leaving the city short of the troops when the Rising began.

The Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Ireland, General Lovick Friend, was on leave in England, Officer Commanding the Dublin Garrison, Colonel Kennard, could not be located and it was left to his adjutant, Col. H. V. Cowan to call for Marlborough Barracks to investigate the disturbance at the GPO. He also called Portobello Barracks, Richmond Barracks, the Royal Barracks, and the barracks in the Curragh to send reinforcements.

Despite the absence of troops at Dublin Castle, the rebels hesitated to take the building, a move that would have been a significant blow to the British and of vital importance to the rebels. The unit disarmed those in the guardroom and shot a police sentry but failed to press any further as those inside – alerted by the shots – began to close the castle gates. Instead, the small detachment of men allocated to the area under Captain Seán Connolly opted to take City Hall.

Michael Mallin, joined by Countess Markievicz, dug trenches in Stephen’s Green, commandeered passing vehicles in order to make a barrier, took buildings around the park including the Royal College of Surgeons.

The rebel Countess Markievicz.

1:38 pm: At the Four Courts along the Liffey a troop from the 5th and 12th Lancers was ambushed by Daly’s men, who were the first engage with British troops. The troop had been escorting an ammunition convoy along the North Quays when they were forced to take refuge in nearby buildings because of rebel fire.

Attempts were made by the British Army to gain access to the GPO by charging down Sackville St. They were repulsed, however, as they passed Nelson’s Pillar and the rebels opened fire, killing three cavalrymen and two horses and fatally wounding a fourth man.

In the center we see Nelson's Pillar. Rebel shooting started as the British troops marched past this point. Credit: WikiCommons.

4:45 pm: On Northumberland Road on the southside of the city, the elderly and unarmed Veteran Defence Force walked into a rebel ambush.

By the end of day one: Just a few hours into the Rising, and despite the poor coordination of the British Army response, the rebels were already losing ground, with those in the eastern end of the South Dublin Union surrendering. The Union complex as a whole remained in rebel hands, however.

Encountering an outpost of Ceannt’s force at the Union, men from the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (RIR), faced off with rebel’s under Section-Commander John Joyce.

Although they lost three men in the first volley and further men as they were repelled a number of times, eventually the superior numbers of the British Army succeeded and the small rebel force surrendered.

Additionally, on the first day of the Rising three unarmed members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police were shot dead causing their Commissioner to pull the police off the streets. The lack of police presence is blamed for the level of looting that took place throughout the city as buildings were torn apart during the week. In total, 425 people were arrested for looting after the Rising. - Frances Mulraney

Day Two

On the second day of the Rising, the Irish rebels fought to hold their positions, news – in addition to misinformation – began to spread throughout Ireland, looting erupted on Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), British General William Lowe arrived in Dublin to assume control of the British forces in Dublin, and Lord Lieutenant at the time, Lord Wimborne, declared martial law. While until this point the Irish Volunteers had seen relatively little confrontation from British forces, by the end of the second day of the Rising, almost 7,000 additional British soldiers had moved into Dublin from the Curragh in Co. Kildare and from Belfast.

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In fact, until this point, some of the rebel strongholds encountered the most resistance from disgruntled civilians. According to the testimony of a 15-year-old named Martin Walton, who joined the Volunteer Forces at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory, “When I arrived then at Jacob’s the place was surrounded by a howling mob roaring at the Volunteers inside, ‘Come out to France and fight, you lot of so-and-so slackers’. And then I remember the first blood I ever saw shed. There was a big, very, very big tall woman with something very heavy in her hand and she came across and lifted up her hand to make a bang at me. One of the Volunteers upstairs saw this and fired and I just remember seeing her face and head disappear as she went down like a sack. That was my baptism of fire, and I remember my knees nearly going out from under me. I would have sold my mother and father and the Pope just to get out of that bloody place.”

Jacob's Biscuit Factory

5:30 am: After sustaining gunfire from the roof of the Shelbourne Hotel, the rebels at St. Stephen’s green retreat towards the Royal College of Surgeons.

Mid-day: Irish rebel forces lose control of City Hall. As Debra Kelly recently recalled for IrishCentral, venerable actress and gunrunner Helena Molony was among the small group who tried to hold on to City Hall, even as British troops flooded in.

Helena Monoly

“As British troops advanced on the tenuous stronghold, and the mostly unarmed group surrendered, the prisoners were dealt with amidst the assumption that the women were only present as nurses and medical support, not as the front-line combatants that they were.” However, once the truth was revealed, Molony and her fellow female fighters were taken to Kilmainham with the rest of those captured.

4:10pm: Rebels at the GPO witness looting all along Sackville (now O’Connell) Street.

Francis Sheehy Skeffington.

Evening: In response to the reports of looting, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington went to the city center to attempt to organize a civilian police force. However, he was arrested at Portobello Bridge by members of the 11th East Surrey Regiment and fell into the hands of one of the Rising’s most notoriously vengeful British officers, Captain J.C. Bowen-Colthurst. Sheehy-Skeffington was then held hostage by an army raiding party and, per Bowen-Colthurst’s orders, executed the following day along with two pro-British journalists who had the misfortune to be in a shop the troop raided.

9:40pm: Martial law declared in Dublin by the British. - Sheila Langan 

Day Three

On the third day of the rebellion the tide began to turn. From 8am the gunboat Helga began shelling Liberty Hall. At the Mendicity Institute, near the Four Courts, the rebels surrender after ammunition finally runs out.

Liberty Hall surroundeded by ICA in 1914. Credit: Public Domain / WikiCommons.

For civilians conditions were deteriorating – the air was filled with smoke, food was running low and danger and possible death were everywhere.

British reinforcements arrive in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) and are welcomed by Dubliners, some giving them food, before they march toward the city. Many of the British soldiers were confused thinking they had been en route to France. Also many were inexperienced, some having only learned to operate their weapons on the docks.

The Battle at Mount Street Bridge is something of a small victory for the Irish rebels as the British army suffered their highest casualties of Easter Week. Sackville Street continues to suffer heavy bombardment and fires break out.

By the end of the third day General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell was dispatched from London to deal with the Rising. After “Martial Law” had been declared the previous day General Maxwell was to be judge and jury in Ireland upon his arrival.

6:20am - British reinforcements arrive by ship in Kingstown Harbour (now Dún Laoghaire). Many of the British soldiers were apparently confused as to why they are in Ireland and not France. The local Dubliners greeted the soldiers cordially, some bringing them food.

8:00am - Liberty Hall is shelled by the British. By midday the building, which spawned the insurrection, is pulverized by artillery fire.

9:00am - Jacob’s biscuit factory is under heavy machine gun fire from Dublin Castle. It is reported that many civilians are killed by the automatic fire as they venture out seeking food, which is running low, or to check on friends and relatives. Others are killed in their homes.

British troops in the Gresham Hotel, on Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), and Volunteers in the GPO engage in gun battle for hours.

Civilians sheltered in the Gresham Hotel. Credit: Photocall Ireland.

11:00am – At Stephen’s Green one of the most peculiar scenes of the Rising is witnessed – a brief ceasefire allows the caretaker to feed the ducks. The caretaker leaves his lodge, near Earlsfort Terrace, and walks to the duck pond. Both sides cease fire and are transfixed by his actions.

However, this peace did not last. James Stephens took a walk to Stephen’s Green that morning. Rebels sniped from the roof of the Royal College of Surgeons and machine guns were positioned on the roofs of Shelbourne Hotel, the United Service Club, and the Alexandra Club.

Stephens wrote, “Through the railings of the Green some rifles and bandoliers could be seen lying on the ground, and also the deserted trenches and snipers’ holes.”

“Small boys bolted in to see these sights and bolted out again with bullets quickening their feet. Small boys do not believe that people will really kill them, but small boys were killed.”

Meanwhile Sackville Street has turned into a warzone. From the river machine guns are firing and incendiary bullets have caused the remaining shops and canopies to set fire.

12:40pm – Rebels disperse between 25 Northumberland Road, the road’s schools and Clanwilliam House. Four battalions of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment arrive and are ambushed.

General William Lowe had ordered that the bridge at Mount Street be taken “at all costs” and the troops continued to attempt take the bridge. By the end of the third day the rebels had killed 240 soldiers, two-thirds of the British losses for Easter week.

1:45pm – The Dublin Fusiliers, the Irish infantry Regiment of the British Army, capture the Mendicity Institute (on Usher’s Island) and lay siege to the Four Courts, on the River Liffey.

Dublin's Four Courts during 1916.

2:00pm - The British set up a heavy machine gun position in Purcell’s Shop at the tip of Westmoreland Street’s junction with D’Olier Street and fire up Sackville Street.

3:50pm - Marrowbone Lane Distillery (Jamesons’) is under constant sniper fire from the Rialto direction.

4:00pm - The attack on the Four Courts by riflemen from the south continues. The Linenhall Barack, to the north, has been set a light and the air is filled with smoke.

5:00pm – On Northumberland Road a ceasefire allows doctors and nurses from Sir Patrick Dunne’s hospital to enter into the kill-zone. Fighting continues on Mount Street Bridge.

Shots continue to ring out on Sackville Street and the fire is increasing.

6:00pm – 25 Northumberland Road, held by rebels, is taken. The door was blown off and the British troops were met with a sea of fire.

6:15pm – At Church Street Bridge, by the Four Courts, two rebels undertook an act of suicidal bravery by rushing across the bridge setting fires and rushing back. The British troops retreat from the southern quays.

6:30pm – The Sherwood Foresters gain ground taking a second position on Northumberland Road, captured at the rear of the Parochial Hall.

6:40pm – Liberty Hall is now destroyed. It is stormed by infantry who find it empty.

7:00pm – The British continue to gain ground in bloody battle at Mount Street.

Clanwilliam House is shot to pieces by machine guns on Haddington Road.

8:00pm - Mount Street Bridge is in British hands and they have entered Clanwilliam House’s outer walls.

8:30pm - Clanwilliam House has fallen.

10:00pm - Boland’s Mill is under constant attack.

Thomas Walsh wrote about being inside the Mill. He said, “During the latter fight Paddy Doyle would say, ‘Boys, isn’t this a great day for Ireland?’ and little sentences like this. He was very proud to live to see such a day.

“After some time Paddy was not saying anything. Jim spoke to him and got no reply. He pulled him by the coat, and he fell over into his arms. He was shot through the head.”

On Sackville Street silence descended while snipers wait for any movement. - Kate Hickey

Volunteers from the 3rd Battalion marching down Grand Canal Street Lower under escort carrying their weapons and a flag after their surrender at Boland's Bakery.

Day Four

The Volunteers lose some crucial areas in Dublin on the Thursday of the Rising with constant heavy fire raining down on headquarters at the GPO. The Four Courts is experiencing heavy fire from machine guns. Capel St is taken by the British, but, despite numerous attacks, increasingly dangerous conditions in the GPO and a bad injury sustained by James Connolly, the Volunteers remain strong in defense of the building. 

8.40: Working overnight, the British had established “slit trenches” (or “defensive fighting positions” as they’re more commonly known) within Fairbrother’s Field to the back of the South Dublin Union, allowing British troops to open fire on Marrowbone Lane Distillery.

Despite their many attempts to take the building, the South Dublin Union continues to be a thorn in the side of the British as they struggle to bring down the Rising.

10.00: Rebel troops begin to reorganize with men and guns sent to those who are struggling to maintain control of their operational centers. The Volunteers in Westland Row train station are hard-pressed and, so, a sortie of rebels on bicycles speeds away from Jacob’s factory in the direction of St. Stephen’s Green to help out.

British troops during the Rising. Image: Pathe / YouTube.

10.35: Despite several advances, the British fail to take Marlborough Lane Distillery with homemade bombs being flung by rebels whenever troops reach the outer wall.

Those making their way on bikes to Westland Row encounter the Staffordshire battalions positioned around Merrion Square. Unable to break through, the supporting rebels retreat to Jacob’s leaving those in the train station to fend for themselves.

As they cycle back by Stephen’s Green on the way to the factory, a machine gun opens fire bringing down one of the cyclists. The other Volunteers stop to shoot back and are assisted by those holding the nearby Royal College of Surgeons.

11.35: The British attack continues and wave after wave of bullets strike the buildings still controlled by the rebels. Sackville St is pounded with artillery as the British try to bring down headquarters in the GPO. They succeed in capturing Capel Street Bridge and also attack the Four Courts, North King Street, and the South Dublin Union in an attempt to blast through a passageway for troops in a bid to provide access for an assault on the GPO.

At South Dublin Union second-in-command Cathal Brugha is badly injured. Not able to retreat from the Union when the order was given, Brugha was thought to be lost but, although still surrounded by enemy soldiers, he was found by Eamonn Ceannt singing “God Save Ireland” with his pistol still in his hand and brought to safety.

He would go on to fight in the War of Independence and in the Civil War, taking the anti-Treaty side. He would be killed during the Civil War despite his reluctance to take up arms against the pro-Treaty side, refusing to surrender after forcing his men to do so in 1922 when a severe bullet wound severed an artery in his leg. He died on July 7, 1922.

Cathal Brugha. Image: Public Domain / WikiCommons.

With the GPO coming under sustained fire, a nearby warehouse owned by the Irish Times was hit several times, eventually causing a fire which spread throughout the day.

13.15: The British appear to be planning something large at the Four Courts with sniper fire raining down from the roof of Jervis Street Hospital. Shellfire is increasing and the noise is deafening.

15.02: There are huge casualties reported on Sackville Street as a further assault by infantrymen is repelled just a short time after another failed attempt on Abbey St. Everything between Lower Abbey Street and Eden Quay is ablaze with rebels taking down any British who attempt to escape through a burning barricade. The infantrymen were left with only two choices: be shot by rebels trying to escape the blaze or take their chances in the fire.

16.35: The South Dublin Union is still holding out despite machine gun fire from the Royal Hospital and troops from the Sherwood Foresters’ and Royal Irish regiments going to ground to engage in close quarter combat.

16.42: Things are not looking so good for the rebels around Capel St and on Capel St Bridge as their forces are cut in two by the Sherwood Foresters. Wanting to ensure they can completely secure the area, the infantrymen are removing civilians from their homes.

20.00: Capel St is taken and secured by the British. This is extremely problematic for the rebels on the north side of the River Liffey as the British troops at Capel St can now act as a blockade between headquarters in the GPO and those Volunteers still fighting in the Four Courts.

20.25: It is at this time that rebel leader and Proclamation signatory James Connolly is first injured. Wounded in the forray on Middle Abbey St, he is brought back to the GPO where he is treated by a captured British Army doctor.

Connolly had first been injured by a gunshot to the shoulder outside the GPO and he sought first aid from a medic without drawing attention to his injury. Later, however, he took another bullet to the left ankle which left him unable to walk or stand. Although treated by a doctor he would spend the rest of the Rising on a makeshift stretcher unable to walk with the wound growing gangrenous through lack of proper treatment.

James Connolly was gravely injured on day four of the Rising.

22.00: On the opposite side of Sackville St., Hoyte’s Druggist and Oil Works has suffered heavy damage due to fire from British boat “The Helga” on the Liffey. The Oil Works explode in a ball of flames scattering debris over a wide area.

22.30: By the end of day four, with the continued bombardment from the British, rebels on O’Connell Bridge, south of the GPO on Sackville St, and those along Henry St., which runs just to the north of the building, begin to retreat to the rebel headquarters.

Things in the GPO were getting increasingly desperate. Small fires were breaking out on the roof and in the surrounding buildings while the rebels attempted to put out any they could. Between the buildings around the GPO, the Irish Times Warehouse, and the Oil Works, Dublin glowed red with fire by the time night fell.

Thankfully, changes in wind speed and direction offer some respite for the rebels. Across the street at Clery’s and the Imperial Hotel, however, such is the heat created from the burning interiors of the buildings that molten glass is now raining down on Sackville St.

Despite the damage in 1916, Clery's still stands on O'Connell St today. Image: WikiCommons.

Machine guns will continue to fire throughout the night. At the end of Thursday, James Connolly lies propped up on a mattress still trying to mastermind the Volunteers' defense. All members of the Provisional Government are now gathered at headquarters. - Frances Mulraney

Day Five

On day 5 of the Rising, the Volunteers are forced to abandon their headquarters in the GPO as conditions within the building became too dangerous. In other parts of the city, they hold onto Boland’s Mills bakery, the Royal College of Surgeons, Jacob’s Biscuit factory, the South Dublin Union and the Four Courts.

7.55: It’s been a long and brutal night for the Volunteers with no let up from British troops attacking Sackville St. The area is unrecognizable with human and animal corpses littering the street. The surrounding buildings are descending into piles of rubble.

10.00: Tension among the forces is mounting with a massacre of captured insurgents and civilians narrowly avoided with thanks to the last minute call from a British major. They are instead sent to the Custom House.

The college located on Bolton Street is thronged with refugees trying to escape the burning city.

The destruction in Dublin.

11.00: There is a respite taken by the Volunteers at Marrowbone Lane Distillery when they spot enemy soldiers burying their dead in shallow graves.

The Citizen Army located in Stephen’s Green is not only suffering from the threat of bullets but also from intense hunger, with snipers lying in waiting to shoot at the first sign of movement, which cuts off any potential food supply.

The ducks of the park, however, are still well fed with the park-keeper returning several times to ensure their welfare.

Although Boland’s Mills, the Royal College of Surgeons, Jacob’s, the South Dublin Union and the Four Courts are holding out, the intense pressure placed on the GPO by British troops is taking its toll – and there's no sign of any let-up.

The tension is rising in Boland’s Mills as well. The previous evening, a Volunteer fell to friendly fire, the result of the over-strained senses of an exhausted comrade.

12.00: The Volunteers succeed in preventing a detachment from the 2/6th Sherwood Foresters Regiment reaching the GPO. Lying in wait on Henry St until they are in close range, they ambush the detachment and the infantrymen retreat.

14.00: Another successful ambush by the Volunteers, this time near Bolton Street on the south side of the city.

That morning the 2/6th South Staffordshires had moved to their Bolton Street headquarters from where they began to launch an attack on North King Street. As they marched, however, the rifle fire began and the soldiers are forced to scramble through the side streets back to Bolton Street.

14.45: Casualties are suffered on both sides as Volunteers stationed on North Brunswick Street and Upper Church Street at Moore’s Coachworks and Clarke’s Diary are involved in a heavy sniper battle with the British soldiers.

A British armored truck.

15.00: British forces on North King Street have not yet given up and continue to fight inch for inch to reach the Volunteers based at Langan’s Pub. Fire from the Volunteers does not let up, even as the British begin to once again retreat.

Reilly’s pub, instead, becomes the main target for the British. Charging, retreating, regrouping and charging once more, the British continuously fail to break through with rifle fire coming at them from all directions.

Taking to the rooftops to try and outflank the Volunteer position at Langan’s Pub, the South Staffordshires leave themselves open to rebel fire from the Four Courts and Monk’s Bakery. Once again they are forced to retreat with increasing frustration and ever-growing hatred for the Volunteers.

In Father Mathew Hall, wounded from both sides lie shoulder to shoulder as they are treated by rebel nurses, any differences between them long forgotten.

15.30: On the North side, the British continue to build barricades that will cut the rebels off. They are now concentrating on a barricade on Moore Street.

The British are adapting to the street fighting being used by the rebels and learning that barricades are the best way to combat it.

16.00: Volunteers in the Four Courts are also holding strong with more guns and ammunition than they had on Easter Monday. Reinforcements from the Four Courts are making their way to Reilly’s Fort.

17.00: The ferocious fighting is still ongoing on North King Street with all rebel fire directed at an armored truck as it attempts to bring in further infantrymen. When the door of the truck is kicked open and a British soldier attempts to jump out, he is shot dead before his foot could touch the ground.

Civilians in this area are left hiding in their homes with no means of escape from the deafening noise and danger.

British police mount a roadblock to support a search during the Rising.

18.30: The roof of the GPO is caving in, but Volunteers still shoot from amid the building debris.

19.00: As the armored truck on North King Street continues to battle through the fire to bring in infantrymen, it suddenly stops. The driver and co-driver have been badly wounded.

19.30: Plans to evacuate the GPO are developed as the ceiling continues to cave in around the Volunteers' heads. A group of Volunteers leaves the building to establish which escape route to Moore Street would be best.

20.00: The Volunteers based at the Metropole Hotel retreat to a GPO that is now in complete chaos.

Not long after Volunteers abandon the Metropole, the whole hotel collapses.

20.30: The GPO is being given up as a lost cause and after a rousing speech from Pearse, Volunteers sprint desperately in small groups of two or three into Henry Street but apparently the way is barred by machine guns and Volunteers are at a loss as to where to go for shelter.

Volunteer captains McLoughlin and Michael Collins attempt to set up position on a building named The White House on Moore Street in an attempt to neutralize the British soldiers at the Rotunda hospital.

They succeed in placing a truck alongside an existing barricade to shelter themselves from the hospital and proceed to break into civilian buildings on Moore Street, making their way down the street building by building.

A temporary HQ is established in Cogan’s Shop, at the junction of Henry Place and Moore Street, and a barricade is built along the laneway outside.

What was rebel headquarters at 16 Moore Street.

21.50: The GPO is lost. Pearse is the last to leave the building with Connolly having been carried out earlier on a stretcher.

Moore Street is now a battlefield.

At Cogan’s a new Commandant is appointed - 20-year-old Seán McLoughlin. Connolly is too badly injured, Pearse and Plunket are exhausted and the remaining members of the emergency council of war do not have the military mind. This young man is the only person left they feel they can place their faith in.

22.30: Headquarters is relocated to 16 Moore Street while stalemate reigns over the other locations around the city. - Frances Mulraney.

Day Six

On Saturday, April 29, 1916, at 12 pm, rebel headquarters on Moore St surrender. Pearse issues the order to the Volunteers across the city but it is Sunday afternoon before all rebels have laid down arms.

6.30: Dublin awakes to a quieter city than it has seen in days with rebels laying low on Moore St. Plans are being put in place to divert the attention of British troops so as to allow the majority of the Volunteers to escape to the Four Courts, a rebel garrison that has been faring much better than their Sackville St counterparts.

Morale in Moore St is low, however, and Volunteers are just simply exhausted after the fight for the GPO. The new Commandant McLoughlin had earlier suggested a do or die assault on a British barricade blocking their route to the Four Courts but some of the men are in no position to launch such an attack.

North King Street is still a complete war zone and every inch of space is being fought for. Langan’s pub has now been abandoned by the Volunteers and the street is full of the bodies of those shot down as they attempted to escape. Reilly’s pub is still holding but is under increasing pressure.

Volunteers in the College of Surgeons and Stephen’s Green are not under as much immense pressure as those in Moore St but are starving. Groups are sent out from the college to attempt to search for food but return with slim pickings.

Conditions are much better in the South Dublin Union and a nearby distillery although the quiet that has descended on the city is disconcerting for those on the south side who have no idea how Volunteers on the northside are faring. Those in the Union are well rested and well fed and the rebels in the distillery are even planning celebrations of their success for the following evening, unaware that by that time the surrender order would reach them.

Sackville St.

8.00: Due to exhaustion and frustration on both sides of the fight, several civilians are accidently killed on Saturday morning while trying to move to safety. Even shadows are immediately shot at with questions asked later as to who exactly they are.

9.00: The cycle of British attack and retreat seems endless on North King St and wounded men on the street can no longer be tended to. They are not even in reach of the brave firemen, who have families on both sides of the divide and who have tended to the streets for the past number of days.

Father Mathew Hall, where the wounded are being tended, is packed with the injured and medical staff struggle to cope with the large number of patients.

10.00: The battle on North King Street seems to finally be coming to an end. The Volunteers decide to leave Reilly’s and tricking the British into thinking they are about to flood out the front door, they jump through the side windows and escape relatively unharmed.

12.00: A white flag emerges from 16 Moore St. The military council appear to have abandoned any hopes of breaking through the barricade to the Four Courts. Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell emerges from rebel HQ and approaches the British barricade.

Fighting continues through the city, Volunteers unaware that the Rising is nearing an end.

Destruction within the GPO.

14.30: Surrender negotiations are now underway on Moore St with O’Farrell emerging again from Moore St, accompanied this time by Pádraig Pearse. They meet with Brigadier General Lowe to discuss terms.

15.30: The surrender is official. Pearse is driven away by the British and it is O’Farrell who returns to headquarters to issue orders. Connolly is gravely injured and again has to be stretchered from HQ to meet the British.

19.00: As word of the surrender order makes its way to Volunteer positions, those in the Four Courts are stunned. When Commandant Daly initially delivers the order they refuse but eventually reluctantly comply.

The Volunteers on North Brunswick St have not yet been reached but a ceasefire is apparently worked out with the help of two priests and fighting stops there also.

19.45: Volunteers leave Moore St in silence, walking to Sackville St to surrender their weapons. They are detained on the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital. The odd gunshot still rings out across the city.

Sunday, April 29:

The order to surrender will finally reach De Valera at Boland’s Mill and those on Stephen’s Green and in Jacob’s factory by 10 am on Sunday, April 30.

De Valera, however, decides that he does not take orders from a prisoner and with Pearse now in captivity, he now takes order from Commandant MacDonagh. MacDonagh also states that the surrender order is invalid as Pearse is a prisoner although he agrees to meet with General Lowe to parley.

Although those on North Brunswick had agreed to a ceasefire yesterday, they would not yet believe that a surrender warrant had been issued. Two priests are allowed access to Pearse in order to acquire an official surrender statement.

MacDonagh meets with Lowe and a further surrender deal is reached with a truce in place until 3 pm.

An exhausted O’Farrell is now traveling around the city conveying MacDonagh’s new surrender order to the Volunteers. Some are angry with the order believing they should fight until the end.

Elizabeth O'Farrell.

The Irish Citizen Army at Stephen’s Green surrender around midday and 120 men and women march from the Green. At 3.30, Jacob’s Garrison also marches into the custody of the enemy.

It wouldn’t be until after 3 pm that the Volunteers in the South Dublin Union would also lay down their arms. Although they comply with the order, they are unhappy and unable to understand why the fight does not continue.

From 4.30pm, the Volunteers within the grounds of the Rotunda are marched to Inchicore and with Dublin citizens now emerging from their shelter to view the destruction of the city, the rebels are heckled as they make their way there. The opposite occurs as Vice-Commandant O’Connor leads the 3rd Battalion from Boland’s Bakery. Crowds cheer and offer their support for the rebels.

By 6 pm, the fighting has ended.

There were are least 485 deaths, 50 percent of whom were civilians. In total, 1,350 people lie dead or wounded and 3,430 men and 79 women have been arrested by the British.

Although initially angry at the rebels and their leaders for the week of heavy fighting and the civilian deaths, between May 3 and May 12, 15 of the Rising’s leaders would be executed in Kilmainham Gaol, including all seven signatories of the proclamation, and public opinion regarding the Rising would begin to soften.

Those executed at Kilmainham included Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Thomas J. Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, William Pearse, Edward Daly, Michael O'Hanrahan, John MacBride, Eamonn Ceannt, Michael Mallin, Sean Heuston, Conn Colbert, James Connolly and Sean MacDiarmada.

The British had to tie the severely injured Connolly to a chair in order to shoot him.

The execution of James Connolly.

The most prominent leaders to survive were Eamon de Valera, with thanks to his American birth, and Countess Markievicz, with thanks to her gender.

Sir Roger Casement was later executed in London, following his high-profile trial in which he was charged with high treason.

The other imprisoned men were sent to internment camps in England and in Wales and it was within these camps that the new leaders of the movement would begin to emerge, Michael Collins among them. The camps became known as “Universities of the Revolution”.

By the time of the general election in 1918, republican feeling is swaying the public away from the more moderate Irish Parliamentary Party and the belief that Home Rule will ever be delivered has all but run out.

The election is a landslide victory for the more radical Sinn Féin, who are mistakenly associated with the Rising, despite them technically having no official part in its planning.

The War of Independence is just beginning. - Frances Mulraney

H/T The Irish Times, Today in Irish History 

* Originally published in 2016.

What are the most beautiful buildings in Ireland?

The Emerald Isle is better known for its rugged coastlines and rolling, green hills, but the Irish have their fair share of impressive architectural triumphs, too! Here are our top choices.

Saint Mary’s Parish Church in Youghal, County Cork

Saint Mary’s Parish Church in Youghal, County Cork.

Now there are many old churches and monasteries of all denominations to be found across the is-land of Ireland, but St. Mary’s in Youghal is particularly interesting. From a historical point of view, it’s the oldest Catholic Church in the diocese, with the roof timbers carbon dated by Queen’s Uni-versity Belfast back as far as 1170.  It enjoyed a long and dynamic history, including being the Church in a town where famous English poet and New World explorer Sir Walter Raleigh was Mayor (in 1588).

A building of significant historical importance, the church is now a National Monument of Ireland but it also now houses a very modern addition; a wheelchair stair lift. Olympic Lifts fitted a Garaventa Artira providing access from street level to this architecturally impressive, still-functioning parish Church.

The Lanyon Building at Queen's University, Belfast

The Lanyon Building at Queen's University, Belfast.

As a general rule, old universities tend to be some of the most architecturally impressive and histor-ically significant sights anywhere, and Queen’s in Belfast is no exception. Founded in 1810 and one of the UK’s oldest universities, Queen’s University’s main structure “The Lanyon building” was de-signed by architect Sir Charles Lanyon.

Lanyon is also famed for his work on the nearby tourist attractions Crumlin Road Gaol and Castle Leslie in Monaghan. The building is renowned for its long Gothic Revival facade and Great Hall which underwent an extensive £2.5m renovation in 2002, restoring it to Lanyon’s original plans.

Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

Kylemore Abbey, County Galway.

Surrounded by mountains and valleys, lakes and streams, Benedictine monastery Kylemore Abbey rests in the heart of the romantic Connemara landscape. This impressive structure was built in 1868 as one of the great neo-Gothic castles of the time, designed to be a private home for wealthy Lon-don doctor Mitchell Henry. It took 100 men over four years to complete and housed 33 bedrooms.

After falling into disrepair, the abbey was purchased in 1920 by Benedictine Nuns who had fled Belgium during World War 1. It remains a Benedictine abbey run by the nuns to this day, who regularly provide tours around the church and large walled Victorian gardens which have been completely restored.

Victoria Square's dome, Belfast

Victoria Square's dome, Belfast.

At approximately 800,000 square feet, and costing some £400 million to build, Victoria Square is one of the biggest and most expensive property developments ever undertaken in the post-war capital of Northern Ireland.

Belfast’s premier shopping destination isn’t just known for its 70+ designer stores (and the fact that’s practically open-air) but instead the retail space has become one of the city’s iconic skyline land-marks thanks to its glass dome. Regular tours from the dome give visitors a unique 360-degree view of the city including Belfast Castle, the Harland & Wolff Cranes, City Hall and Parliament Buildings.

A joy for the modern architectural fans, the dome lights up blue at night like a beacon out across the River Lagan.

Trinity College, Dublin

Trinity College, Dublin.

Founded in 1592 and modelled after the famed Oxford and Cambridge universities, Trinity College Dublin is the oldest university in Ireland and best known for housing the intricately illustrated Book of Kells in its impressive Old Library. The Library is what’s known as a “legal deposit library” meaning it is legally entitled to a copy of every book published in Great Britain and Ireland and consequently receives over 100,000 new items every year.

However, the entire site has no shortage of beautiful buildings and green lawns. occupying some 47 acres of land, many of the buildings are arranged around quadrangles (known as “squares”) and encompasses two separate playing fields. The arrangement of the buildings all facing inwards, with few public entrances, give the college a tranquil feel amidst Ireland’s bustling capital city.

Saint Colman's Cathedral, Cobh

Saint Colman's Cathedral, Cobh.

Cobh is most often cited in the impressive tourist site lists primarily for the quirky rows of candy-colored homes that grace its waterfront. The historic final port of call for the doomed RMS Titanic, it is the towering Cathedral over the harbor that really deserves our attention.

Taking over 30 years to complete construction (in 1909) Saint Coleman’s is almost more famous for its sound than its sights. The cathedral contains the only church carillon which, with 49 bells, is one of the largest in Europe. An automated system strikes the hour and 15 minute intervals while it also rings the bells in appropriate form for Masses, funerals, weddings and events.

Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal

Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal.

As visitors travel far North in Ireland, leaving civilization behind, the main attraction on the peninsula end of the Wild Atlantic Way is Fanad Head Lighthouse. Following a tragedy at sea in 1811, the lighthouse was conceived to help guide ships and sailors safely to shore. 

Now being developed as a visitor’s center, the lighthouse - voted one of the most beautiful in the world - still stands on its rocky outcrop between Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay, 120 feet above sea level. It has 79 steps, with views out over a coastline regularly visited by whales, porpoises, and dolphins.

The Wonderful Barn, County Kildare

The Wonderful Barn, County Kildare.

The Wonderful Barn is a corkscrew-shaped barn built in 1743 on the edge of Castletown House Es-tate of the Conolly family, which borders Leixlip and Celbridge, Ireland. Built in the years immedi-ately following the famine in Ireland, a similar structure (known as the “Bottle Tower”) can be found in Dublin.

Aside from its unique and quirky design, with stairs built externally around it, one of the main attrac-tions to the barn is the intrigue surrounding its original purpose. Several ideas have been suggested such as a dovecote or a gamekeeper’s tower. But the generally accepted theory is that of a grana-ry, due to the central hole cut through each of the floors.

Lewis Glucksmann Gallery, Cork

Lewis Glucksmann Gallery, Cork.

Arguably one of Ireland’s most beautiful modern buildings, University College Cork’s art gallery has won numerous respected architectural awards. Opened to the public in 2004, the gallery is named for its benefactor - Wall Street financier and chairman of Lehman Brothers, Lewis Glucksman.

The gallery achieved notoriety in 2005 when it became the little-known underdog in the world-famous Stirling prize shortlist. The building occupies the site of two old, largely unused tennis courts, and proudly stated that not a single tree was moved or removed to make way for the gallery; it weaves between the nature instead.

* Laura Fulton wrote this article on behalf of olympiclifts.co.uk.

Freedom's Son: Patrick Pearse, Easter Rising leader executed in 1916

April 24 is the historic anniversary of the start of the Easter Rising, which took place over the course of five days in Dublin in 1916 and forever changed the course of Irish history. To commemorate this anniversary, writer and historian Dermot McEvoy has produced 16 profiles of the Irish Rebel leaders who were executed one hundred years ago and who, gradually, have come to be seen as heroes.

Between May 3 and 14, 1916 fifteen leaders of the Rising were court-martialed by the British Army under General John Maxwell and convicted. Over two weeks IrishCentral will look at the leaders from James Connolly to Joseph Mary Plunkett and share their stories.

Padraig Pearse

Patrick (Padraig) Pearse was born in 1879 at 27 Great Brunswick (now Pearse) Street. (The building is still there and has been repaired to the way it looked in Pearse’s youth.) His father James was English and his mother Margaret (née Brady) Irish. The father’s stonemason business, also at #27 Brunswick, specialized in ecclesiastic monuments. Pearse was baptized around the corner at St. Andrew’s and educated at the Christian Brothers School at Westland Row. He received his B.A. from Royal University and a law degree from the King’s Inn in 1901 (his law career consisted of one case, which he lost).

From all indications Pearse as a boy was a solitary figure—he prefers reading a book to playing with other children—with his brother Willie his closest friend. His reticence may have been caused by a cast in his right eye which was the reason he was almost always photographed in profile. This may also explain his extreme shyness where women were concerned.

His mother’s family were Irish speakers from County Meath and at 16 he joined the Gaelic League, eventually becoming the editor of its newspaper. According to Richard Ellmann, he was the Irish teacher to a young man by the name of James Joyce. (Imagine, in one room, Ireland’s ultimate ascetic and its greatest satyr!) Showing no interest in the law, Pearse, with his love of the Irish language, turned his attention to education. He was a critic of the education system in Ireland which he believed taught Irish children how to be good Englishmen (he called it “The Murder Machine”).

Thus he started Scoil Éanna (St. Enda’s School) in 1908, eventually settling at the Hermitage in Rathfarnham, which is today the location of the Pearse Museum. The school was a family affair—besides Thomas MacDonagh who served as assistant headmaster, the faculty included his brother Willie, his sisters Mary Brigid and Margaret, and his mother acted as housekeeper. It focused on a bilingual (Irish/English) curriculum and was a success academically, but put tremendous financial stress on Pearse. In 1914 this forced Pearse to go to America on a speaking tour to raise money. There he met John Devoy who he referred to as “the greatest of the Fenians.” The trip raised a much-needed £1,000 for St. Edna’s. He even got time to play tourist, visiting the just-opened Woolworth Building which was then the tallest building in the world.

Pearse’s early politics were moderate: he was in favor of the Irish Parliamentary Party and Home Rule. But the IPP’s failure to bring Home Rule home turned Pearse more militant. He joined the Irish Volunteers in November 1913. At first Tom Clarke—the puppeteer who was orchestrating this new Irish militancy—was initially suspicious of Pearse because of his previous moderate political views. Clarke needed a front man for the movement. He and Seán MacDiarmada, the two guys pushing the envelope, couldn’t be the face of the movement because of their jail records and their penchant for inciting havoc against the British. MacDiarmada urged Clarke to let Pearse give the oration at the Wolfe Tone Commemoration in 1913 and Clarke was so impressed with Pearse he exclaimed, “I never thought there was such stuff in Pearse!” Clarke had found his perfect front man.

Perhaps Pearse foresaw this future role in a poem he wrote called “The Rebel”:

 

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,

 

That have no treasure but hope,

 

No riches laid up but a memory

 

Of an Ancient glory.

 

My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,

 

I am of the blood of serfs;

 

The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,

 

Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,

 

And, though gentle, have served churls…

 

… And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,

 

Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,

 

Who shall take what ye would not give.

 

Did ye think to conquer the people,

 

Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?

 

We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,

 

Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!

Pearse shot into prominence with his oration at the grave of the old Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in Glasnevin Cemetery on August 1, 1915. Standing next to John MacBride and Tom Clarke—all three would be shot the first week of May 1916—he concluded his funeral oration with a warning to the British:

“…The defenders of this realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us, and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything. They think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”

In the months ahead Pearse would work with Clarke, MacDiarmada, Plunkett and Connolly in planning the Rising. By Easter Monday he was named President of the Provisional Government and as Commandant-General was Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Volunteers. At noon on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916 he stood in front of the GPO and read the Irish Declaration of Independence, which he had written:

POBLACHT NA hÉIREANN

THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC

TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN:

 

In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom…

 

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations…

 

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Ireland's Proclamation of Independence.

In the GPO Pease was his usual distant self and most of the military decision-making was left up to Connolly. He did interact with all the Volunteers and gave a few little speeches that lifted the spirits of the men and women. By Friday he left the blazing GPO for Moore Street with the rest of the leadership. It was there that he decided to surrender to General Lowe. In captivity in Richmond Barracks before being moved to Kilmainham for execution, Piaras Beaslai remembers how Pearse “sat on the floor, deep in his own thought, so full of them that he noticed nothing around him.” His distant demeanor recalled what Pearse had once written about himself: “I don’t like that gloomy Pearse. He gives me the shivers.”

Padraig Pearse surrenders.

At his court-martial Pearse stated: “My sole object in surrendering unconditionally was to save the slaughter of the civil population and to save the lives of our followers who had been led into this thing by us. It is my hope that the British Government who has shown its strength will also be magnanimous and spare the lives and give an amnesty to my followers, as I am one of the persons chiefly responsible, have acted as C-in-C and president of the provisional government, I am prepared to take the consequences of my act, but I should like my followers to receive an amnesty. I went down on my knees as a child and told God that I would work all my life to gain the freedom of Ireland. I have deemed it my duty as an Irishman to fight for the freedom of my country.”

He was the first of the 1916 rebels to be executed at 3:45 a.m. Fifteen more would follow.

~~~~~

 

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

* Originally published in 2016.

Million dollar Ashford Castle wedding for Rory McIlroy and American bride Erica Stoll

Rory McIlroy got hitched to American fiancee Erica Stoll at Ashford Castle on Saturday in a lavish ceremony. In attendance were Ed Sheeran, Jamie Dornan, Chris Martin and Niall Horan among other celebrities. Rory and Erica's wedding dance song was “Isn't She Lovely.”

Stevie Wonder and a 15 piece band performed for the happy couple and US Masters champion Sergio Garcia showed up as did many other golfers from the PGA ranks.

McIlroy, 27, who is worth an estimated $60 million, had the exclusive venue on lockdown throughout the weekend with media and locals kept far away from the festivities which are said to have cost a cool million.

Erica Stoll from upstate New York came into Rory McIlroy’s life almost by accident. A golf lover she became manager of Championship Volunteer Operations at the PGA of America. During the Ryder Cup in 2012, she noticed that McIlroy had not shown up as his tee time approached. She dashed to his hotel and discovered he had mistaken his tee off time. She got him to the course just on time.

Describing how the relationship blossomed from there, Rory McIlroy told Cool FM radio: "We were friends for a couple of years and we knew each other sort of from the golf circuit, and in summer 2014, towards the end of the summer, started to spend a bit more time together and it went from there."

Unlike Caroline Wozniacki the top tennis pro who was Rory’s previous fiancee she has little interest in a high publicity role and is almost anonymous following McIlroy around to his favorite tournaments.

Speaking about her, Rory stated: ”She is from America, which is why I like to spend time in Palm Beach. The past six or seven months have been really nice. That part of my life is going great."

In December last year, Rory popped the question in Paris, a moment which he later described as a “nice way to end the year.”

"She is a very low key person, not the kind to broadcast stuff, but that side of my life is really good just now. We are excited, our parents are excited so it is a really happy time,” he said.

"For me, Erica brings such a level of normality to everything. She has a calming presence, a sereneness and that’s not just on me; it is noticeable in any company. She never wants to be the center of attention and is always very comfortable in the background.

"She has been a great influence on me and has given such a great balance to my life - between who I am when people see me out here and who I am at home."

Now they are man and wife and clearly gloriously happy together.

 

Irish Nazi propagandist Lord Haw Haw born in Brooklyn in 1906

Irishman William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw Haw, was an Irish Nazi propagandist in WWII. The nickname "Lord Haw Haw" was coined by a British radio reviewer in 1939.

Born in the United States to British and Irish parents, Joyce was raised in Ireland and is alleged to have informed on the IRA to British soldiers during the War of Independence. It is believed that the IRA even dispatched a volunteer to assassinate Joyce such were his links to the Black and Tans. 

Moving to England once Ireland secured the Anglo-Irish Treaty, it was here that Joyce's decline into fascism truly began, joining the British Union of Fascists. Shortly before this, Joyce was attacked by Communists who he claimed were Jews as he left a Conservative Party meeting. The attack left a permanent scar on his cheek.   

Rising to Director of Propaganda in the BUF and then to the Deputy Leader, he was responsible for the BUF's policy shift from campaigning for economic revival through corporatism to a focus on antisemitism.

Joyce and his wife Margaret fled to Germany in 1939, shortly before the war began, and he became a citizen in 1940. 

Beginning with the words "Germany calling, Germany calling", Joyce first made radio broadcasts from Germany anonymously before bombing forced him on to Luxembourg and then Apen outside of Hamburg. His scripts were broadcast over a German-controlled network, some of which pretended to broadcast from within Britain. 

Read more: Adolf Hitler loved Irish folk music

A report by the BBC in 1940 tell us: "A typical nine o'clock BBC news bulletin is listened throughout by 16 million adults or over 50 percent of the listening public. If it is followed by a talk, this will be heard by nine million. Of the other seven million, six million switch over to Hamburg (Lord Haw Haw's show) ."

The BBC discovered that Joyce was more popular with wealthy listeners and males. The BBC said that a "less politically minded listener" was more likely to listen to his broadcasts.

Radio Hamburg was established by the Germans at the beginning of WWII, and it was used to demoralize British soldiers and its strained workforce.

The BBC eventually improved its service and used lighthearted comedy to draw listeners away from Lord Haw Haw's scaremongering.

Joyce was captured by British soldiers on the German/Danish border at the end of the war. He held a British passport and was tried for treason. Joyce was hanged in Wandsworth jail in January 1946.

Back in 2010, the BBC made 15 Lord Haw Haw podcasts available on its Internet archive. The BBC also made available 11 previously unreleased documents.

You can view the Lord Haw Haw archives here

** Originally published in 2010. 

Irish boy saying goodbye to his grandparents at the airport gets surprise of his life (VIDEO)

A 12-year-old Irish lad got a happy surprise when he took a ride to Shannon Airport to drop off his grandparents.

In a video posted on April 5, 2017, Sean McGrath stands outside his dad’s car with a bag of coins and prepares to say goodbye to his grandparents.

His dad, Colum, who is recording the scene, turns to Sean’s grandmother and asks her to give Sean her phone.

As she pulls her cell phone out, she asks her grandson, “Will you check the boarding passes for me there, Sean? Just to make sure I have it all right?”

Sean takes the phone and swipes around to find his grandparent’s flight info on an app.

“Check the boarding passes for going away,” Colum tells his son.

As Sean scrolls through each boarding pass, his dad reads the passenger’s name aloud.

“Jennifer McGrath. Now, swipe across. Anthony McGrath.” He tells his son to keep going and Sean finds a third boarding pass with his name on it.

Sean breaks down in tears once he figures out he’s going on a surprise trip to Spain with his grandparents. Even after his dad hands him a suitcase, Sean still can’t seem to believe he’s really going.

Watch the video for his reaction to the incredible surprise.

 

H/T LittleThings.com

My own top ten favorite places to visit in Ireland (PHOTOS)

I love Ireland any time of the year, but my favorite time to visit is in the off season. Sure, it’s a wee bit cooler in January than it is in June but it’s also less crowded and there are better deals to be had with the airlines during the off months.

Last year during the off season, I found myself driving through The Gap of Dunloe alone and there was not another car in sight. That made my ride through the Gap even more spectacular.

Here are my ten favorite places to visit in Ireland:

The Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe.

The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass located between MacGillycuddy's Reeks and Purple Mountain in County Kerry. It's almost seven miles from north to south. There are five lakes connected by the River Loe. Between the first two lakes, there is an old arch bridge called 'The Wishing Bridge.' It is said wishes made upon it are certain to come true.

Peak season the road through the gap can get quite crowded with jaunting cars and tour buses. You can also hike or ride your bike through. The scenery is completely breathtaking and there are many photo opportunities along the way. Yes, this is my all-time favorite place to visit in Ireland. A true hidden gem.

Slieve League

Slieve League.

Slieve League in County Donegal is three times higher than The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and much less crowded. These cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in Europe, and I felt as though I was standing on the top of the world. And the drive through Donegal to get to the cliffs isn't too shabby either.          

Howth

Howth village, just minutes away from Dublin city.

Howth is a small fishing village and outer suburb of Dublin. I love to take an early morning walk around the town and watch the fishing boats come in. If you’re vacationing without a car and staying in Dublin, the DART runs to Howth from Connolly Station in Dublin and it is a mere 20-minute train ride.

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol.

Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison in Dublin and much of Ireland’s history can be told here. Many Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, were imprisoned and executed in the prison by the British. If you are a history buff this is a must see. I found this to be a very emotional yet meaningful tour. Not too far away is Arbour Hill Cemetery the grave site of the Easter Rising leaders who are buried in a mass grave in the cemetery. The visit to both the jail and the cemetery was a very affecting experience.

The National Museum of Ireland

Inside the The National Museum of Ireland aka Collins Barracks.

The National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History, also known as Collins Barracks is a former military barracks in the Arbour Hill area of Dubin. Collins Barracks is named after Michael Collins, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Free State Army. The exhibits in this museum include Irish culture, heritage, and national history.

Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park.

Killarney National Park in County Kerry is 26,000 acres of spectacular natural beauty. I enjoyed a jaunting car ride through the park to Ross Castle. There is something for everyone here. You can walk, hike, take a jaunting car ride or take a boat ride on the lakes. You may even see the magnificent red deer along the way. Killarney is a great town and the national park is a treasure.

County Leitrim

Sun setting over Glencar Lake, in Leitrim.

County Leitrim just doesn't get enough love. I know many tourists don’t venture up to County Leitrim but you should if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, along with beautiful scenery.

There is no traffic here and remarkably, Leitrim got its first traffic light in 2003. While it is the 26th largest of the 32 counties in Ireland by area, it is the smallest in population and like no other county in terms of the friendliness of the people.

The Lough Rynn Castle Hotel in County Leitrim is a stunning hotel and fit for a queen. The grounds are regal and I enjoyed relaxing in the drawing room with a hot toddy.

From the hotel, you can take a short taxi ride to Creegan's Pub in Cloone for a few pints. This is an authentic Irish pub which has been in the same family for more than 100 years and just happens to be owned by my charming cousin, Tommy Creegan. County Leitrim is indeed off the beaten path and trust me, you’ll thank me after your visit. It's a favorite place of mine, for sure.

Glasnevin Cemetery

Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin is a large cemetery which opened in 1832. The cemetery contains the graves of many of Ireland's most prominent national figures. The grave of Michael Collins is beside the visitors' center. A truly beautiful cemetery.

Belfast

What better way to see the city...A double-decker bus ride through Belfast.

A double-decker bus ride through Belfast. This is a great way to get the layout of the land before venturing out on your own while in Belfast. It was fascinating seeing the working-class, predominantly loyalist, an area known as the Shankill and Falls Road, the republican community in the city from atop a double-decker bus.

Any pub in Westport

Any pub in Westport....Inside the famous Matt Molloy's.

Next up on my bucket list is a to visit The Donkey Sanctuary in County Cork. Every donkey taken into the Sanctuary is guaranteed a life of loving care. I fell in love with a couple of donkeys living on The Great Blasket Island a few years ago. Since then, I have a soft spot for them.

And, I've always wanted to attend a major sporting event in Ireland. So, Croke Park....here I come!

Read more: How magical Ireland healed my broken heart

Month’s Mind memorial mass for Martin McGuinness to be held at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral

It has been just over one month since the death of Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and those whom he led and those who admired his legacy are still feeling the impact of his loss, due to complications from amyloidosis.

This coming Monday, April 24, the 101st anniversary of the start of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising, a Month’s Mind memorial mass will be held in McGuinness’ honor at the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

Organized by the New York County division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the mass offers the Irish American community the chance to reflect and pay their respects. It will feature a eulogy by former Senator George Mitchell, who served as Special Advisor to President Clinton on Ireland, and from 1996 to 2000 as the Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks, which resulted in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Read More: Why Martin McGuinness will be remembered for hundreds of years to come

The Month’s Mind is a Catholic, and especially Irish Catholic, tradition in which the departed are remembered and reflected upon by family and friend with a special mass held one month after their death.

Northern Ireland’s Minister for Finance Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, a fellow member of McGuinness’ Sinn Féin party, was in New York this week and took a moment to speak with IrishCentral about McGuinness’ legacy for the Irish in America.

On Monday, prior to the mass, IrishCentral will be hosting a Facebook Live discussion about McGuinness, his life and legacy featuring Irish Senator (TD) Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Leader of Sinn Féin. Tune in via our Facebook page at 4pm EST to watch.

See event details about the memorial mass here.

The #WeAreIrish hashtag on Twitter just got very racist

A Twitter campaign extolling the racial diversity of modern Ireland took a dark turn after trolls attacked users for being Irish. Asian Irish woman Úna-Minh Caomhánach from Kerry started the hashtag to showcase the multiracial nature of Ireland but was swiftly hit by a backlash.

“The idea for #WeAreIrish came as a complete spur of the moment thing for me this week,” she told IrishCentral.

“I talk a fair bit about Ireland and the concept of Irishness (a lot of people don't accept me despite the fact that I've both an Irish passport and birth certificate). I wanted to create an image that shows how multicultural Ireland is these days. The image has a wide mix of people but with one thing in common: they're Irish.

“As a background to some of the people featured, they're Irish in different capacities. Some are adopted like me, some were born here, others have one Irish parent. I wanted to make a point that our color doesn't matter. Sprinkled into the collage too are people like RTÉ radio presenter Rick O'Shea, Comedian Tara Flynn and author Sarah Maria Griffin.”

But a simple image of non-white Irish citizens provoked a huge racist backlash.

 However, plenty of people weighed in supportively too.

The 2016 census found that 233,000 people living in Ireland came from non-white ethnic backgrounds with a further 124,000 declining to state their ethnicity.

 

H/T: CSO.ie

Ireland off the beaten track: Sights and sounds of a Shannon cruise

Visitors to Ireland usually tour the west coast, as well as going to Dublin in the east. I want to tell you about the Irish Midlands and particularly about the lovely places along the banks of the mighty River Shannon.

This beautiful majestic waterway flows down through the center of Ireland. I suggest that you hire a cruiser and take some time out from your busy life to travel along this peaceful scenic river. A few days into your holiday, I guarantee you will be as relaxed as the locals seem to be.


ATHLONE

Rugby player Robbie Henshaw sitting in Sean's Bar in Athlone. Credit: Jean Farrell

I’ve lived in Athlone all my life. It is in the very centre of Ireland. By Irish standards it is a big town, divided in two by the river Shannon.

Connaught is on one side of the bridge and Leinster on the other.

In the past, Athlone was of great strategic importance, as the enemy could approach the town by river. In the eleventh century, King John built a stone castle on the Connaught side of town. This big castle still stands today. A Visitors Center within tells the whole history of the area. There are plenty of mooring spaces in the town.

CLONMACNOISE

St Keiran's Cathedral in Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly. Credit: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Clonmacnoise lies a few miles south of Athlone. There is a jetty for boats nearby. I make a point of visiting this monastic site at least once every summer. It is a spiritual experience for me.

In the era when Ireland was known as ‘The Island of Saints and Scholars’ students came to Clonmacnoise from all over Europe. Founded by St Ciaran in the mid-6th century, it became a great center of religion and learning.

Visitors can see three high crosses, the remains of a cathedral, seven churches and two round towers. It gives visitors an authentic sense of the history of Ireland. To dig deeper into the fascinating history of Clonmacnoise, you can visit the on-site interpretive visitor center.

THE BOG

A bog body.  Credit: Jean Farrell

Mention ‘The Bog’ to any person, over fifty, who has grown up in the Irish midlands and they will groan, myself included!

The Gaelic for the word ‘soft’ is ‘bog.’ The midlands bogs are like a soft carpet of decayed vegetation, over 10,000 years old. Partially decomposed remains of dead plants form layer upon layer of soft soil, to a depth of 10 meters. As visitors travel south from Athlone by boat, they will see bog land on both sides of them.

Irish bogs provided the only source of fuel to Irish households for many generations. We called it ‘turf’, otherwise known as peat. There was a lot of hard work involved in ‘saving’ this turf and all the family had to help. And there was immense satisfaction in seeing your shed full of turf as the winter set in.

Many of my family live in housing estates in Dublin and Galway. When they come home to Athlone they always suggest that we go for a walk on the bog. A vast expanse of brown flat bog stretches into the distance, as far as the horizon.

There is a silence on the bog like nowhere else on earth. The soft soil absorbs all the sound. It is a magical place, with great folklore attached. Bodies have been found buried there, mummified in the soft peat. These are thousands of years old. Bogs are one of the few ancient landscapes that still look almost exactly the same as they did thousands of years ago. They are a bridge with our past.

Without bogs we would lose astonishing plants like sundews, sphagnum mosses and cotton grass; spectacular birds like hen harriers, and curlews. All this can be seen by those traveling by boat through the flat midlands of Ireland.

LOUGH DERG

Lough Derg. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

There are three lakes on the River Shannon and Lough Derg is the most southerly of them. Surrounded by hills and low mountains it is a beautiful lake with gorgeous little villages all along its shores.

Some years ago my husband and I decided to hire a boat in Scotland. As we had always wanted to see The Scottish Highlands we hired a cruiser that took us along The Caledonian Canal. Whilst the scenery was indeed spectacular, what we missed was people.

There were no villages along the way. Ireland is completely different in this regard. All along the banks of the Shannon are small Irish villages where tourists to our country get the chance to meet country men and women, in their little shops and pubs. This is another reason to take a trip to the lovely midlands of Ireland and give your mind, as well as your body, a real rest.

Enjoy Ireland’s majestic Midlands!

 

Young Irish country star Owen Mac releases adorable new music video

Ireland’s biggest, brightest and youngest new country music star Owen Mac proves he really has the voice of an angel in an adorable new music video released via his Facebook page. Having already clocked up over 100,000 views, Irish singer Owen Mac sounds better than ever as he pines after his “Little Grey Home in the West”.

He takes on the beautiful song with a professionalism beyond his years, showing off some of the prettiest little corners of the country as he does so. The song will be included on the young singer’s ten-track second album also featuring “Erin Tennessee” and “Cottage by the Sea”.

When we first met Owen Mac in January 2017, he already had a big following on both sides of the Atlantic with 100,000 Facebook likes and his first album under his belt. In just three short months, however, he’s well on his way to becoming an Irish country music star with almost 140,000 likes and a new CD “Heart & Soul” available for pre-order before its big release at the end of April.

The 14-year-old Coleraine, Co. Derry-born singer, lists his father as one of his biggest influences and it's obvious why as the pair perform here together in their living room with friends.

Read more: 13-year-old Irish lad could be the next big country star

While Owen may think that this little home in the west “is a corner of heaven itself”, we think you’ll agree that heaven is certainly wherever he is singing.

You can find out more about Owen Mac’s music here.

Who are your favorite Irish country singers? Would you go to see Owen Mac perform if he came to the US? Let us know in the comments section.

Irish dad's photos of his baby in "marginally dangerous" situations go viral

An Irish dad’s photos of his infant daughter Photoshopped into “marginally dangerous” situations has gone viral.

Stephen, a 32-year-old designer in Dublin, started creating the photos when 18-month-old Hannah came out of the hospital after receiving a bone transplant at 10 months, reports Independent.ie.

"She had a very rare immune disorder called HLH and spent six months of her first year in hospital, receiving chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, which is the only possible cure," Stephen told Huh Magazine.

Baby scales outside balcony railing above stairs. Credit: Steec/Imgur

"Of 27 million worldwide donors, 3 were deemed suitable, and an anonymous German lady donated. Because we missed out on so much normal stuff of the first year, we take tons of photos now that we're able to do normal things out of isolation."

Stephen hopes the popularity of the photos will help raise awareness for becoming a bone marrow donor.

He also wants the photos to make people pause and think, "Wait, did he...?"

Baby driving in dad's lap. Credit: Steec/Imgur

"I thought it would be fun to worry family by putting someone delicate in precarious situations," he said.

"Most of the reactions have been positive, with the odd person not getting the joke and commenting I 'should be shot.'"

For more information of becoming a bone marrow donor, go to giveblood.ie.

 

Visit to ancestral home marks 100 years of Ford cars in Ireland

William Clay Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of the company’s founder, Henry Ford, unveiled a plaque and bench in Ballinascarthy, Cork, earlier this week, to commemorate 100 years of Ford in the country.

The unveiling took place in the center of Ballinascarthy, a small village 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Cork city, from where Henry Ford’s father, William Ford, and his family emigrated to the United States in 1847. The family settled in Michigan, where Henry Ford was born in 1863.

“I am excited and honored to be coming home to Cork to celebrate 100 years of Ford in Ireland,” said Bill Ford.

“Ford has deep roots in Cork, not only through my family’s historical connection, but also through the impact that the Ford factory has had as an engine for prosperity for the area over many decades.”

During his visit, Ford will also participate in a civic reception at Cork City Hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cork City, at which the contribution of employees of Henry Ford & Son Limited during the past 100 years will be recognized. The event will be attended by 300 current and former employees.

Bill Ford and his family in Ireland.

Henry Ford remained conscious of his family’s heritage throughout his lifetime, choosing his ancestral home city of Cork as the site for the first purpose-built Ford Motor Company factory outside of North America. The Ford factory in Cork was established in April 1917.

As Henry Ford said in his own words: “My ancestors came from Cork, and that city, with its wonderful harbor, had an abundance of fine industrial sites. There was, it is true, some sentiment in it (the decision to establish the factory in Cork).”

The company that Henry Ford legally established in 1917 was entitled Henry Ford & Son Ltd., and that continues to be the legal name of Ford in Ireland to this day – the only Ford entity in the world to include the full name of the company’s founder in its title.

Bill Ford unveils an engraved bench dedicated to Ford at 100.

The Fordson tractor was initially the main product of the Cork plant, which by 1929 had become the largest tractor factory in the world. The factory also produced passenger cars including the iconic Model T. The last Model T ever produced by Ford anywhere in the world rolled off the Cork factory production line in December 1928.

The Model A, Model BF, Model Y, Prefect, Anglia, Escort, Cortina and Sierra models also were manufactured in Cork until the plant’s closure in 1984.

Ford today has the widest network of dealers of any automotive manufacturer in Ireland, with 52 dealerships providing direct and indirect employment to 1,000 people across the country.

Dublin still bears scars of 1916 Easter Rising battle over 100 years later

Over a century has passed since Ireland’s monumental 1916 Easter Uprising took place on the streets of Dublin, and yet, the city still bears many of the scars as a result of the fighting between the Irish and British.

Expertise from author and Irish military historian Paul O’Brien, and Dr. Joanna Brück, a reader in archaeology at the University of Bristol and former senior lecturer at UCD’s School of Archaeology, shows the physical scars left by the 1916 Rising in Dublin - the hub of the rebellion.

The uprising began on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916. It was on that day that seven Irishmen proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic, with themselves as its government, and attempted to break away from British rule.

Involved were the Irish Volunteers, led by Pádraig Pearse, the much smaller Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly, and members of Cumann na mBan.

The Irish force numbered around 1,600 people and occupied buildings around Dublin’s city center, buildings that still hold the physical proof of the fighting that is nearly a century passed.

The week-long uprising cost about 1,500 lives - mostly civilian - and left another 2,000 people wounded. It also left its mark upon many spots around Dublin which are still palpable today.

Scenes from the Easter Rising.

Mount Street bridge and Northumberland Road

O’Brien says that “One of the biggest battles of the rising happened on that road.

“25 Northumberland Road was occupied by Lt Michael Malone of the Irish Volunteers. The schoolhouse was occupied by another group of volunteers as well.”

The old schoolhouse is still standing today but has since been converted into The Schoolhouse hotel and restaurant.

The battle there occurred when members of the British 59th North Midlands Division ran into 17 volunteers who were positioned on that street. 214 British soldiers met their deaths.

“They had them in cross fire – the British didn’t know what direction they were coming from or what position the Irish had,” explained O’Brien. “That battlefield is still there bar one building that was burnt down and is now an office block.”


St. James Hospital

While most of the hospital in Dublin 8 today is new, the area around it was the site of “fierce battles,” according to O’Brien.

“It was known as the South Dublin Union. It was a workhouse for the impoverished people. A man called Eamonn Ceannt was one of the Irish Volunteers and occupied the workhouse.

“The battlefield and the majority of the buildings are still there within the modern complex. You can see the nurse’s home; the convent is still there,” said O’Brien.


The Four Courts Area

“A lot of it was damaged or destroyed in the civil war – in relation to 1916, many battles took place in streets and alleyways behind the Four Courts,” said O’Brien. The area now is mostly new and rebuilt.

“Urban combat was very new to the British Army, and they had to adapt very quickly to what was happening in Dublin,” said O’Brien.

"One of the biggest battles in the area happened at North King St and involved the Irish Volunteers and the British South Staffordshire regiment. The army suffered heavy casualties at that spot."

While many of the houses there were knocked down, some originals still remain. The Irish Volunteers occupied a public house at the junction of North King St called Reilly’s which is still standing but under a different name. Similarly, the Capuchin hall, where Comdt Edward Daly set up his headquarters, is also standing.

Also near the Four Courts was a medical mission, where a group of British lancers took shelter after being intercepted making their way up the quays. This building still stands today, but “The whole front of that building is peppered with bullet holes.”

The Four Courts Building on the River Liffey in Dublin as it stands now.

St. Stephen’s Green


Now a bustling hub for Dublin city, St. Stephen’s Green was used to dig trenches during 1916.

“The rebels dug trenches, probably at the four entranceways and other places – the written sources aren’t very specific about where they were.” Dr. Brück added that with it being a Victorian park, the Irish Citizens Army takeover of the area was quite symbolic.

“The rebels took St Stephen’s Green over on Easter Monday,” said Dr. Brück. “There has been debate over whether it was a strategically good location to take over or not. Some would say it was stupid to take over Stephen’s Green as it was looked over by different buildings and they didn’t have enough men to take control of buildings overlooking the green. Others would say there is a water source so that was good.”

"The rebels were led by Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz - there is a limestone bust of Markievicz in the park today. There, they dug trenches and put barricades up around entrances and smaller entrances in the park, and also commandeered passing vehicles to help them in their task," said Dr. Brück.

O’Brien added that “one photograph taken of the trenches for a newspaper at the time showed them facing straight down Dawson St.”

Today, you can see pock-marks and bullet holes on the Fusilier’s arch at the entrance to St Stephen’s Green.


Shelbourne Hotel



Still a popular spot in Dublin today, The Shelbourne Hotel became a takeover spot for British forces beginning on Easter Monday in 1916. At first light, they began shooting at the rebels from the windows of the hotel.

The soldiers barricaded downstairs in the Shelbourne, and some guests were wounded by fire from the rebels in the park. The guests were moved to the rear of the building to avoid more injury.

While the inside has since been refurbished, the outside of The Shelbourne remains the same as it was back then


Royal College of Surgeons


“The buildings they took over were very symbolic,” said Dr. Brück, "with this spot being no exception. Irish rebels retreated to here and remained there until they surrendered on the Sunday. The masonry outside the college today still bears the pockmarks of bullets exchanged between the Irish and British."

Members of the Irish Republican Army during the 1916 Easter Rising.


GPO (General Post Office)

This landmark on O’Connell Street, then called Sackville Street, served as headquarters for the Irish Volunteers during the Uprising. Though it was burned down during the week of rebellion, its remaining facade bears the scars of bullet holes still visible today.

GPO during the Easter Rising.

* Originally published October 2012.

H/T: TheJournal.ie

The truth about the Battle of Clontarf and Brian Boru

The events that took place at the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday, April 23, 1014, were the culmination of two centuries of strife, treachery, failed alliances and treaties between Irish kings and Vikings.

The battle was between the forces of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, and an alliance of the forces of Sigtrygg Silkbeard, King of Dublin; Máel Mórda mac Murchada, the King of Leinster; and a Viking contingent led by Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, and Brodir of the Isle of Man. It lasted from sunrise to sunset and ended in a rout of the Viking and Leinster forces. Brian was killed as were his son, Murchad, and his grandson, Toirdelbach.

These tales have been told and retold from medieval time to present day, in schools and communities, but what evidence do remains of the great, brave Brian Boru, the Viking’s influence and the Battle of Clontarf?

Ruth Johnson, Dublin City Archaeologist, employed by the city council, explained that there’s little evidence of the battle and, more importantly, that it didn’t take place where most presume.

She told IrishCentral, “There’s very little direct evidence of the actual battle itself. An antiquarian journal in the 18th century referenced the discovery of mass Viking graves with weaponry and human bones on Parnell Square. Potentially that is our only real link to the battle.

“Sadly, that’s lost to us because that was pre-archaeology and Georgians were the great developers. They cleared everything out to make way for their great squares and lay the houses out with cellars. Unfortunately, that tantalizing glimpse is all we have.”

So why, if the battle was won and lost at Parnell Square in today’s north Dublin City Center, is this heroic battle named for Clontarf, which is three miles north along the coast.

Where did Clontarf come into it?

“We don’t know exactly. We know is was somewhere on the north side of the River Liffey between the Liffey and the River Tolka estuary. Obviously, there’s so much sand reclamation in that area, the whole of Dublin Bay has changed even since the building of the Great south wall and the North Wall by Captain Bligh,” said Johnson.

“We’re not quite sure exactly where the battle took place, but we know it was within a few miles of Wood Quay and it had to have been a landing place because the Viking fleet from the Isle of Man and the northern and western sides of Scotland landed around Clontarf.”

She continued, “We know that Howth was set on fire in the run up to battle as well, which is interesting in itself. We also know that Brian’s troops were camped before the battle at Kilmainham, just to the west of Dublin, on high ground. It’s quite an extensive battlefield zone. We can image Brian Boru’s army marching from south to north across the city.

“Strategically, it wasn’t an ideal place for any of them to fight the battle. They were miles away from the city they were all fighting over. If you’re trying to capture a town the main event should take place at least near the town, but they never got close.”

While details of the location and strategy of the battle might be lost in the annals of history, thankfully, archaeological excavations in Dublin of the 11th-century town revealed a plethora of information about the forming of the city and its Viking and native inhabitants.

Johnson explained that the wealth of the discoveries made between the 1960s and 80s in Dublin, especially along Wood Quay by the River Liffey, was due to the nature of the soil.

She said, “The deposits were laid down very rapidly and they were waterlogged by the waters of the River Liffey, so that unique combination of rapid buildup and saturation with air meant an organic preservation, like bog almost. It meant that there was about four or five meters of archaeology discovered.

“There were a hundred Viking houses discovered in that one campaign alone. We know that the Viking town had urban defenses. It was the size of about two soccer pitches [fields]. It contains streets going crosswise, east to west, where Christchurch is now and, north-south where Fishamble Street is today.”

The archaeological finds also show use the breadth of the Vikings’ travels and how much they brought to Ireland’s shores.

PHOTOS - 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf and death of Brian Boru

Johnson continued, “It was an extremely wealthy place. The quality of the finds from Viking Dublin is extraordinary. We have so many exotic imports from the wars they fought. We had amber from the Balkans, silver from as far as Baghdad and you can imagine all the rest of the Viking world, Britain and Scotland, down the western seaboard of France and into Spain and North Africa.”

Often the Vikings are seen as nomadic rogues who attacked and pillaged Ireland and caused quite a ruckus. The truth is that by the late 10th century the Vikings had become very much a part of Ireland’s social and political scene.

“It was just a politically intermixed scene. If you think about Queen Gormflaith. She was a key player in the late 10th century. She was a remarkable woman and was married several times.

“The name of her first husband was Olaf Cuaran, the Viking King of Dublin, he was pure Viking and he was also King of York. She was a Leinster princess married to a Viking King.

“Then when he died and she married the King of Tara. So now she’s married to an Irish high king, and then later she married Brian Boru himself and later divorced him.”

It seems that parts of these histories become altered sometimes, often for dramatic effect.

The High King Brian Boru himself is one such example. It is claimed that the king died while praying in his tent, the leader of a great army of men going to battle. However, if you do the math, Brian Boru would have been about 73-years-old and it seems unlikely that such an elderly man would be charging into the battlefield in medieval Ireland.

“We think that one of his favorite sons was actually in charge of the army, but that Brian was close by in his tent and sending messages back and forth,” said Johnson.

Brian Boru could have become the stuff of legends, but his worship started during in his own time.

“He is a fantastic character. In his own lifetime, he was declared the Emperor of All Ireland in the Book of Armagh, which we still have that book on display in Ireland. Even in his lifetime, he had a hold on Ireland’s popular culture as Ireland’s greatest King,” explained Johnson.

“A lot of what we know about Brian Boru comes from the ‘Cogadh Gaedhil re Gallaibh,’ a propaganda document written by his ancestors, maybe two or three generations after him. It is very closely allied to the story of the Trojan War. It sets Brian Boru as the hero and probably has a lot of poetic licenses included.”

In the end, we must ask, can we take revisionism too far? Will we take the magic from these heroic tales of war if we dig too deep?

Johnson finished by saying, “I was at a lecture recently and this man stood up and said ‘I’m not going to let them take Brian Boru away from us with all this revisionism. To me, he’s like Richard the Lionheart of Ireland and we need our national heroes.’... I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

In May 2014, Johnson’s book “Viking Age of Dublin” will be available online. “Before and After the Battle of Clontarf” by Johnson and Howard B. Clarke is currently available from Four Courts Press.

A short video on the Battle of Clontarf from UCD:

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President of Ireland launches biggest redwood forest outside of California

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was in Offaly on Friday overseeing the planting of the biggest redwood forest outside of California.

Redwoods were once native to Ireland and the project says the return of the trees to Ireland symbolizes the hope that one day the Irish diaspora will return home too.

On their website, Crann - Trees for Ireland write, “These Giants with their height, great bulk, long life and deep root systems symbolize the giant place that the diaspora and their families hold in the hearts and minds of the Irish people, including Irish people living abroad with their roots in Ireland. This grove will be a lasting monument to our diaspora and has the potential to be a major tourist attraction for many years to come.”

President Michael D. Higgins plants the redwoods

On Friday President Higgins planted the first tree of the grove - named in his honor - just outside Birr Castle. The saplings have been nurtured by pupils from the nearby Gaelscoil na Laochra and Kildorrery National School in Cork.

Read More: Ireland planting the world's largest redwood forest outside of California

So far just under 90 trees have been purchased and named with buyers hailing from as far away as New Zealand and the US. Costing $535 each, the fee covers the cost of caring and maintaining the young forest as well as a certificate of dedication.

Lord Rosse, whose family have lived at Birr Castle for generations, said, “This launch was planned to draw attention to this project which is very much linked to Ireland’s Diaspora. We are deeply honored that President of Ireland Michael D Higgins is here today.

Can Ireland create a forest as spectacular as the California Redwoods?

“The return to Ireland of redwoods, which were native here before the geologically recent ice age, is a symbol of Ireland’s global concern for biodiversity enhancement and conservation, especially at the present time where climate change represents a threat to the long-term survival of redwoods in California.”

He added, “We are honored to have the President visit as this project is very close to my heart. Our grandchildren, their grandchildren, Birr, Ireland and the world will benefit from this magnificent forest grove. These will be the biggest trees in Ireland and the largest collection outside of California, fittingly here in Birr in a place which has the biggest treehouse in Ireland.”

Redwoods tend to grow 30 feet wide in diameter and 275 feet tall; their average lifespan is between 500 and 700 years but some have been known to reach live for two millenniums.

H/T: Redwoods.info

Rory McIlroy is getting married in an Irish castle this weekend

Golfing superstar Rory McIlroy is marrying his American fiancee at the ancient Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo this weekend.

McIlroy (27) was previously engaged to Caroline Wozniacki, a Danish tennis player, but the pair broke up in May 2014.

He first began dating wife-to-be Erica Stoll (29) in late 2014 and described himself as “very happy” to the Times of London a few months later.

He popped the question in Paris at the end of 2015 telling the Daily Telegraph, “I wouldn’t say I did it in the traditional way, no,” he recalled.

“We had planned to go to Paris since May; we were always going to go. Then what happened a few weeks before [the terror attacks] made us unsure. But when we got there it felt great.

"People were just getting on with things and I thought [the proposal] might make the trip even better. So we went out for dinner and that was that. It was a special way to end the year.”

The couple met on the golfing circuit and Stoll works for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America.

The marriage will take place amid high security at the Co. Mayo estate; five security guards are be hired to patrol the entrance to the castle alone and the 13th-century walls are so high residents of the small nearby village on the banks of Lough Corrib will see little if anything.

But that hasn’t dampened the hopes of locals that they might spot a celebrity out and about; “Ah, there is great excitement in the town really,” local man Jonathan Byrne told the Irish Times.

“All the locals have been coming into town in the hope of seeing a celebrity. I’ve heard no reports of any sightings and none of them have come in to me. I’ve just had reporters coming in annoying me.”

Another local, Gerry Collins who runs the town’s "Quiet Man" museum said the small village was used to celebrity weddings but hoped this one would boost its reputation even further.

"I think this is going to give Cong and the whole area an enormous boost," he said.

"There is already a great atmosphere around the village and even the tourists, who are here for the local beauty and 'The Quiet Man' sites, are asking about the big wedding.

"Of course Pierce Brosnan got married here in Cong as well so this is a special place for celebrity weddings.

"Hopefully, Rory McIlroy's decision to get married in Ashford Castle will persuade a few more A-listers to walk down the aisle here.”

Read more: Top 10 most fabulous celebrity weddings in Ireland (PHOTOS)

Rumored to be amongst the guests attending are musicians Ed Sheeran, Stevie Wonder, UFC star Conor McGregor and soccer player Ryan Giggs.

With such a storied array of millionaires on their way, the castle’s helipad has been put to regular use and a no-fly zone designated over the castle.

McIlroy and Stoll are thought to have hired the castle for the week and are estimated to have shelled out around half a million euro on their wedding; the castle’s presidential suite, named after President Reagan who stayed there, costs $4,279 a night alone.

And McIlroy was said to be “relaxed” by American tourists also staying at the castle.

“To be honest even when we heard Rory McIlroy was getting married we didn’t know who he was,” Pauline Baker from New Jersey said.

“We had to google him. Then we saw him at breakfast. To be honest he looked just like any other young guy sitting there having breakfast with his friends. He seemed really relaxed.”

As for where the happy couple will end up on honeymoon remains to be seen; McIlroy has said it will be “in the middle of nowhere” for ten days.

H/T: The Mirror/The Irish Times/ The Irish Independent

Happy Earth Day! Ireland sure looks gorgeous from outer space

If you need a reminder of the many reasons why we need to keep the Earth safe and healthy, here's a look at Ireland from outer space, looking absolutely stunning. Ireland’s spell of gorgeous weather in June 2014 brought clear skies and sunny days. For American astronaut Reid Wiseman, then 250 miles above Earth on board the International Space Station, it brought the rare chance to get an unobstructed view of Ireland from space.

“Hello Ireland, been waiting to see you,” Wiseman tweeted, accompanied by his photograph of Ireland. The coastlines, inlets, and rivers are all clearly visible, with just a few small clouds dotting the southwest of the country.

It was the first time in space for the 38-year-old US Navy Commander from Baltimore and his sense of wonder was palpable. “It is still impossible to wrap my head around the view. Just saw every place I’ve ever lived in 10 minutes,” he later said.

Earlier in the day, as Ireland moved into the ISS’ line of sight, Wiseman shared his excitement:

Ireland has previously been a favorite of astronauts on board the ISS, from Canadian Chris Hadfield, who built up a massive Irish following while in space, to American Cady Coleman, who brought with her two Irish flutes belonging to the Chieftains, to Douglas Wheelock, who sent a St. Patrick's Day greeting from the ISS this year.

Commander Wiseman’s mission was six months in duration, ending in November. With fellow astronauts Steve Swanson and Alexander Gerst, leading up to the World Cup he gave Earth-bound fans a lesson on how to play soccer in space:

* Originally published in June 2014.

Brexit shows Britain going backwards rather than looking ahead

The British contribution to Irish affairs has had a long history and, you may have heard at some point, not all of it has been entirely salubrious. Occasionally they have pursued paths that have had fateful consequences for our own little island.

It seems we are still not quite out of the woods in that regard yet.  Brexit, the name given to the U.K.’s latest lamentable episode of ill-considered chauvinism, will have profound implications for Ireland that voters in the U.K. have spectacularly failed to consider. Not for the first time, they have been content to let other nations pick up after them.

On the bright side, however, they have set an example that we in Ireland should take enormous care not to repeat. Let’s say a hearty ni maith liom to their anti-immigrant fever, to their catchy political sound bites over simple common sense, and to the ever-growing authoritarianism of their Conservative Party for a start.

Brexit has finally put paid to the notion that England is an outward looking, egalitarian society, a place where citizens trust their own political leadership to govern effectively, and where migrants are respected and welcome instead of menaced and scapegoated.

There’s no earthly reason now to believe a word of what you have been told, that Brexit was all about sovereignty or trade or standards or anything else. In reality it was an undeclared culture war between cosmopolitan London and the sour, insular shires further north that finally cleared their throats and told the capital exactly what they thought of it after decades of being overlooked or ignored.

Instead of the promised economic dynamism Brexit was supposed to unleash, we now see a panicked exodus of the financial sector on which much of the city depends, in favor of a sad return to the unquestioning conformity of the 1950s, to the boring pre-rock and roll era of deadly dull summer fetes of cold tea and boiled ham sandwiches and week-long coronations.

Recall that the moronic headline on The Sun’s front page on Brexit day was “Dover and Out,” a self-defeating battle cry that actually highlights that they’re busy painting themselves into a corner, not emerging from one.

Instead of marching confidently into the future, the U.K. is now a place where slippery used car salesmen types like former politician Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson can wrap themselves up in the Union Jack while selling fraudulent tickets to the past.

Brexit was also an undeclared class war too, to be honest. One where the leafy middle and upper class suburbs of the south (with the help and support of the ministers who were in their pockets) fought a losing battle against the faraway working class shires who had languished in poverty, unemployment and neglect for generations. Used to winning, the well heeled and the jet set were astonished to discover they had somehow lost.

Generational poverty, pit closures, the dead end of industrialization, the shrinking of the national economy, the rise of the metropolitan super rich and the fall of the great middle class all really got started under Margaret Thatcher, and Brexit was a logical conclusion.  Having run out of nations to invade and exploit, Blighty finally took its ball and went home.

To think that for generations many of our ancestors in Ireland bought the lie that Britain was any less atavistic or corrupt than our own fair isle? Now we now know that there’s not a hair’s breadth between us, and Brexit has been bracingly cold water to the face of our carefully nurtured post-colonial inferiority complex.

But while the British have been busy debating what makes England English, thanks to their successful series of invasions, we in Ireland have already had quite a head start on all this post-colonial navel gazing.

It will be interesting to see if the insatiable yearning for a lost Eden becomes an identifiable characteristic of the British, rather than an Irish, in years to come.

After our own lost Gaelic world was exploited and all but annihilated by their ruthless colonial machine, who would have thought that the people who would most end up yearning for a past that can never be attained again would be them and not us?

The Swede and the Finn who fought at the GPO in the 1916 Rising

On April 24, 1916, Patrick Pearse stood outside the General Post Office in Dublin and read a proclamation announcing the establishment of an Irish republic under a provisional government.

The Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army had taken up arms in an effort to secure a republic. While the vast majority of those who took part was Irish, there were two men who found themselves on the periphery of one of Ireland’s most monumental moments in history by accident.

The Volunteers had been infiltrated by members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, which had secretly fixed Easter Sunday as the date for the Rising. One of the most remarkable tales is that of two seamen who just happened to be in the capital when the Rising erupted. These two ‘Irish rebels’ were unusual because of where they were from – Sweden and Finland.

One of the men called out to Captain Liam Tannam, who was in charge of some of the ground floor windows at the General Post Office. He recalled the chance encounter:

“There were two strange looking men outside and I went to the window and I saw two obviously foreign men. Judging by the appearance of their faces I took them to be seamen. I asked what they wanted.

"The smaller of the two spoke. He said: 'I am from Sweden, my friend from Finland. We want to fight. May we come in?' I asked him why a Swede and Finn would want to fight against the British.

"I asked him how he had arrived. He said he had come in on a ship, they were part of a crew, that his friend, the Finn, had no English and that he would explain.

"So I said: 'Tell me why you want to come in here and fight against England.' He said: 'Finland, a small country, Russia eat her up.' Then he said: 'Sweden, another small country, Russia eat her up too. Russia with the British, therefore, we against.'

"I said: 'Can you fight. Do you know how to use a weapon?' He said: 'I can use a rifle. My friend - no. He can use what you shoot fowl with.' I said: 'A shotgun.'  

"I decided to admit them. I took them in and got the Swede a rifle, the Finn a shotgun. I put them at my own windows."

Read more: A “litany of mishaps and disasters” lead up to the 1916 Easter Rising

This is how two foreign strangers became a part of the Irish identity, written into history.  However, the Finn’s inexperience with firearms quickly began to show. Everyone stood too when an alarm was raised at the barricades. The crisis passed, but as the Finn stepped back from the window his shotgun banged off the floor and went off. The blast hit the ceiling and sent a shower of plaster down on the men manning the windows. One of the volunteers, Joe Plunkett, was unimpressed, and gave the Finn a piece of his mind.

Tannam continues: "The Finn looked at him [Plunkett], looked at me, at everyone. Joe said: 'Can you not talk, man?' The Swede spoke up and said: 'No. He has no English.' 'Who are you?', Joe said.  I intervened then and I explained to Joe. Joe looked at me and said: 'Amazing, but obviously that man there is a danger,' pointing to the Finn. 'We will have to get him another place out at the back of the Main Hall.'"

James Connolly said, “The man who fires a shot like that will himself be shot.” It was decided that the Finn should go back from the barricade to help with the filling of fruit tins with explosives and pieces of metal. The Swede insisted he accompany his friend. Both men stayed for the week, and were there until the surrender.

According to Liam Tannam, the Finn’s name was Tony Makapaltis, but that of the Swede was unrecorded. This incredible tale is among the many hidden secrets of what really happened during the 1916 rising.

This story is credited to witness Statements of Liam Tannam, Charles Donnelly and Robert Holland. You can read more about such tales at KnowThyPlace.

*Originally published in January 2014. 

Bill O'Reilly as Mr. Nasty -- you will never forget this

Love him or hate him, it seems we may have seen the last of Irish American Bill O’Reilly on our TV screens following his dismissal from Fox News earlier this week.  The outspoken cable news veteran finally received the heave-ho in April following the backlash Fox News received after the revelation of their covering up of the sexual harassment charges brought against O’Reilly over his past decades with the station.

While even President Donald Trump came to his fellow old white man’s defense, it wasn’t enough to save O’Reilly from a permanent vacation from the station. The former presenter of “The O’Reilly Factor” will now set sail into the sunset with an estimated $25 million payout and although we may not have those millions to keep us warm at night, at least we have this video to remind us of O’Reilly as “Mr. Nasty.”

Whether it makes you praise the Lord that he’s finally off your screens or makes you pine for the good old days where he could shout down any guest’s reasoned argument without his sexual exploits getting in the way.

This old clip was revived by the internet in 2010 and has been doing the rounds since but with O’Reilly’s unsightly departure, it has become viral once again. All springing from O’Reilly’s misunderstanding of “to play us out”, the video shows the anchorman losing the rag with his staff and pulling a hissy fit while alternating between glitzy, charming showman when he has his working hat on.

The clip was even made fun of by hit TV show Family Guy as the character Stewie Griffin reenacts the debacle word for word.

Read more: Bill O’Reilly is turning into Bill Cosby before our eyes

And this is far from the only time that O’Reilly lost his cool while on the air. Really, we could probably find one a week at least but here is a run through of some of the best (or worst) as we bid farewell to the notorious host.

When he said “so what?” about the US’s slavery legacy

Aside from his attempts the two female contributors on his show against each other, this clip is particularly horrifying in that O’Reilly appears to completely dismiss the history of slavery in the US and denies that there is any kind of racism in the country. Even after being told to give up her “derisive snort”, Kirsten Powers is incredulous at O’Reilly’s attempts to completely dismiss her comments on racism.

Pretends not to hear his guest’s answer

In this clip, O’Reilly asks liberal commentator Alan Colmes to name him one program President Obama has talked about cutting to reduce the national debt. Colmes names one. O’Reilly pretends he doesn’t and goes on a tirade.

A politician refuses to sink to his level

We have to hand it to Congressman Barney Frank, it must be pretty hard not to shout back at O’Reilly when you can’t get a word in edgeways but Frank calls the host out on his tactic to make his guests look angry and defensive.

Read more: Bill O’Reilly on Black people, being Irish and women

He descends into a screaming match Jerry Springer would be proud of

We can’t be the only ones have expecting security to come on stage and keep the two apart while watching this video. O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera descend into a shouting match where you really don’t learn anything about anything only that O’Reilly really doesn’t like undocumented immigrants.

Happy or sad to see O'Reilly leaving? What are your thoughts on his opinions above? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. 

H/T: PopCrush

All aboard! Campaign to save “The Quiet Man” train station

To the legions of fans of “The Quiet Man,” John Wayne will always be looking out the carriage window as the train pulls into the station.

In real life, of course, Wayne – Sean Thornton in the 1952 screen classic – has departed the stage.

But that station is still in place.

And in real life it goes by the name of Ballyglunin Railway Station.

But, as with real life, time can take its toll and Ballyglunin is showing its age.

The station, which is in County Galway, is no longer active but could be again someday if plans for bringing back mothballed rails lines in the West of Ireland eventually come to fruition.

But for now, Ballyglunin is a quiet place.

Though not a deserted one.

It draws visitors from near and far and in the case of Paschal Cassidy it was the setting for his wedding last year.

“I fell in love with the station when myself and my wife Grace got married there last September,” said Paschal.

It was the first wedding ever to take place in the station, but likely not the last.

Assuming the unfolding effort to preserve it proves to be a success.

Read More: Why do people love The Quiet Man so much?

“We both have a huge fondness for the place and became involved with the local committee to help them restore it and keep it standing,” said Paschal.

“The station has been under the care of the committee for over ten years and they have done huge work to keep the station in good condition.  

“We have been fundraising for the last few years to keep the place standing and in use for the local community.  

“This year, we have to replace the roof on the station as it is in a really bad state of disrepair and is in danger of collapsing.”

The committee is planning to launch a crowd-funding campaign next month, Cassidy said.

Read More: Restoration of Quiet Man cottage to begin as dispute is settled

“The station gets many visitors from far and wide every year and ‘The Quiet Man’ has a huge resonance with both Irish and foreign audiences. It would be a shame to let this piece of history fall to ruins,” he added.

The station is on the Limerick to Claremorris line and was originally opened in 1860 by the Waterford, Limerick and Western Railway.

It later became part of the Great Southern and Western Railway.

Ballyglunin was still in business 65 years ago when “The Quiet Man” was filmed, but fell victim to rail “rationalization” in the 1960s and 70s.

In more recent times, plans have been drawn up to reopen the Limerick-Claremorris line under the rather less than romantic title of the “Western Railway Corridor.”

Read More: The Quiet Man jaunting cart finds permanent home at the John Wayne Museum in the US

The crash put paid to that idea, though the plan still exists and could begin rolling at a future point when finances become available.

More at www.ballyglunin.com

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This story appears courtesy of the Irish Echo. For more stories, visit their website here

Eric Trump's trip to Ireland cost taxpayers thousands

A trip by Eric Trump to Ireland earlier last week cost US taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Official documents show taxpayers shelled out $4,029.85 on limousines and a further $11,261 in hotel fees for the Secret Service. No details are given as to whether agents stayed in (and were billed to stay in) Trump’s hotel itself.

And as the figure don’t include meals or airfares for the Secret Service, the true cost is likely to be much higher.

During his two-day visit to the Doonbeg Hotel and golf course in Co. Clare Trump held a number of business meetings at the property, played a round of golf and took time out to speak to the media.

“My father loves this country, loves this hotel. He loves this place, loves everything this symbolizes. I would love him to see this and everything we have accomplished... If he is able to make it here, it would be great to have him,” he told an Irish Times journalist. “From a big picture standpoint, Ireland will have no better ally in the world than America, it has always been that way, but even more so.”

And when asked whether he’d like to expand his father’s business empire in Ireland, Trump was emphatic.

Read More: Trump "couldn't care less" about his Irish golf course

“In a heartbeat… I would love another property if the right one came around. It would have to be top 10. It would have to be of this this standard at Doonbeg. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t dilute this [Doonbeg] by doing another one [in Ireland]. It would really have to be one of the big boys.”

The 33-year-old’s life has been turned on its head by his father’s political career and his life is about to change even more drastically again soon.

“Sure, your father is commander-in-chief of the United States of America; it changes [your life]. I have secret service everywhere I go; it changes. Your movements are a little bit more calculated than they were.

“I have a son on the way [in September]. That’s my first. You have the biggest microscope on you but that’s fine. So yeah, it’s changed. At the same time, it has stayed very consistent and I get to focus on the projects I love, which very much include this one.”

Read More: Playing a round at Trump's golf course in Ireland

Trump’s two older sons have attracted criticism from left-wing commentators for their frequent international trips, which have thus far cost nearly $200,000. Congressman Elijah Cummings hit out at the pair, claiming taxpayers couldn’t afford to protect them.

“The Trump family’s frequent travel to international destinations purely to promote the Trump family business is burning through taxpayer dollars at an unprecedented rate and stretching the Secret Service increasingly thin,” he said.

But not everyone has been so critical; former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow told Fox News late last year,  “You put a price tag on anything around the president, then you’re putting a price tag on his life and that is priceless.”

H/T: The Irish Times/CBS News/Sunshine State News

40-story building in Cork will be Ireland's tallest

A head-tiltingly high 40-story building is planned for Cork City. Kerryman and New York construction tycoon Kevin O’Sullivan is behind the project and says it “will put Cork on an international map, and bring jobs to the city”.

O’Sullivan and his brother left the town of Ballinskelligs on the Wild Atlantic Way in 1986 and since then have been involved in numerous high profile projects in the Big Apple; his firm Times Square Construction have overseen renovations to Grand Central, built the 9/11 memorial and Apple’s flagship store on 5th Av.

Now he’s looking to take on his first big Irish project and with a budget of $107 million it’s set to be the biggest building in Ireland by quite some margin; currently Dublin’s Liberty Hall at only 17 stories is half the size of the proposed new building. 

Once completed the building will likely house a hotel, offices and potentially apartments as well.

“[Over 30 years] I’ve seen the ups and downs of the US economy; this has to happen now for Cork, the city doesn’t want to miss out on another cycle,” O’Sullivan told the Irish Examiner.

Kerryman and New York construction tycoon Kevin O’Sullivan.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney (and potentially Ireland’s next Prime Minister) cautiously welcomed the plan; the ambitious nature of the proposal “will blow people away, they will create a real ‘wow’ factor and it will prove a real draw to the city and a catalyst and a center piece for dockland development,” he said.

However, he added, the final go ahead would depend on an Environmental Impact Statement and planning permission which would give city residents the right to object.

H/T: IrishAmerica.com.

Irish priest to be set on path to sainthood in Dublin

A Jesuit priest will be put on the pathway to sainthood next month when a ceremony in Dublin will see him “blessed.”

Fr John Sullivan was born into a wealthy Dublin family in 1861. His Protestant father was an attorney who would go onto to become the Lord Chancellor of Ireland (then the country’s highest ranking attorney). His mother was Catholic from a landed family in West Cork and, as was the tradition at that time, the sons in a mixed marriage were raised in their father’s religion and the daughters in their mother’s.

Sullivan had a traditional upbringing for a middle class Protestant Dubliner of the time; he attended the prestigious Portora Royal School in Fermanagh and then Trinity College in Dublin.

After graduation he moved to London to become a lawyer and it was there his life took an unusual path. In 1896 he converted to Catholicism and 11 years later was ordained a Jesuit priest. He joined the staff of Clongowes College in Kildare and it was there he spent the rest of his life.

Fr John Sullivan.

As a priest he gained a reputation for his commitment to the ill. He would jump on his bicycle at any hour to visit the dying and locals became convinced of the power of his prayers to cure them.

In 2014 Pope Francis declared him ‘Venerable’ and after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concluded his prayers had cured a Dublin woman of cancer, the Vatican announced his beatification.

Only one more miracle is needed before he can become a saint.

The beatification ceremony will take place in Dublin – the first of its kind of take place in Ireland’s capital city – and will be attended by representatives from both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Church.

“The holiness of John Sullivan was the fruit of his education in both Catholic and Church of Ireland traditions,” Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said in a statement.

His Anglican counterpart, Michael Jackson, also thought Fr Sullivan’s personality had been molded by his Church of Ireland upbringing: “[His]holiness has a strong ecumenical feel to it, as he never rejected the influence of the Anglican tradition on his spiritual flourishing”, he reflected.

Read more: Travel Ireland in the footsteps of the Irish saints

Here's a documentary about Sullivan's life:

H/T: Irish Times.

Amazing video shows 550,000 folks from all backgrounds capturing the new Ireland

This past Easter Monday, April 17, more than half a million people turned out for free events around Ireland as part of a new, large-scale public festival that celebrates the culture and creativity of modern Irish society. In this amazing video that captured some of the Dublin events, we get a glimpse of the inclusive spirit of the nation.

Red hair, pale skin, and freckles with a traditional instrument in their hand may be what first comes to mind when you’re asked to imagine an Irish person, but in the increasingly diverse society that is modern Ireland, many members of the Irish population are far-removed from this stereotypical image.

Lauded as the new national day of creativity, Cruinniú na Cásca (“the Easter meeting”) saw events take place in all 32 counties of Ireland with four centers opened in Dublin city alone. The event was presented by Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ, along with Creative Ireland, a program set up by the Irish Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to promote Irish arts at home and abroad. It is seen as a follow-up to the runaway success of 2013's The Gathering and last year's 100th Anniversary of  Easter 1916.

Read more: Massive turn out for Ireland’s first nationwide Easter cultural celebrations

“I think it’s a really good way of introducing our culture to our kids,” said one attendee. “My partner’s not from Dublin, so he’s really interested to see all these Irish crafts and Irish music. So it’s for us but also great for visitors as well, I think.”

With musicians, artists, filmmakers, illustrators, performers, dancers and many more entertaining the 550,000 people who attended one of the 50 events nationwide, inclusivity was clearly on show as all walks of like took advantage of the Easter activities.

While the video shows off the traditional Irish crafts, there's also plenty of dancers and dances from other cultures, as well as newer crafts that are steadily growing in modern-day Ireland.

“We're dancing using candles, balancing,” explains a dancer of the traditional Filipino dance.

“When we thought about what it might entail, we kept coming back to the idea of inclusivity, that this should be a festival for everybody,” said Lorelei Harris, Head of Arts and Cultural Strategy in RTÉ.

Taoiseach (Ireland's Prime Minister) Enda Kenny said: “It’s a cruinniú and that means, not just a meeting, it’s a gathering. It’s about people. It’s about ourselves. It’s about who we are.

“It’s about Ireland not being afraid to express ourselves the world over. We are a global people and we’re about to prove it over the next number of years.”

And Taoiseach Kenny seemed to more than enjoy the event, spotted swinging through a few sets of céilí dancing and trying out the brush dance routine.

The release of the video comes the same week an Irish woman sparked a #WeAreIrish movement online from those who want their voices heard as Irish people who may not look like the norm. Proud Kerry woman and Gaeilgeoir Úna-Ming Kavanagh was raised in Ireland from a very young age but is tired of not being represented as a non-white person in the Irish media and being told she’s not as Irish as somebody else simply because she doesn’t fit the traditional stereotype.

It appeared she was far from alone as Irish people of various ethnicities and backgrounds joined her call to declare themselves proudly Irish, despite not fitting into others' set mold of what an Irish person should look like.

Did you attend Cruinniú na Cásca? Let us know what you thought of the events in the comments section. 

ProdiJIG’s Revolution of Irish dance is back

The innovative Irish dance troupe, ProdiJIG, is returning to the stage this June as part of an exciting new collaboration between Cork Opera House and Cork Midsummer Festival.

Celebrating a new era in Irish dance, ProdiJIG: The Revolution is led by Cork-born world champion Irish dancer, Alan Kenefick and directed by acclaimed theatre director Wayne Jordan. It features some of the best Irish dancers in the world, along with music from trailblazing trad group MOXIE and Peter Power.

“ProdiJIG: The Revolution has been inspired by my life as a dancer including the highs and the lows, and a dream to make a change,” Kenefick previously told IrishCentral, “to show the world that we as Irish dancers and as a culture are still evolving …This is our Revolution.”

ProdiJIG’s Revolution of Irish dance is back

Irish Dance is undergoing a revolution! Cork Opera House and Cork Midsummer Festival’s collaboration brings PRODIJIG: The Revolution back on stage. Read more here: http://irsh.us/2oQNAOx

Posted by IrishCentral.com on Friday, April 21, 2017


Ahead of the show back in 2016 the director, Jordan, said “I can’t wait for opening night and to invite the world to join in ProdiJIG’s revolution. It’s gonna be a riot!

"ProdiJIG: The Revolution"

“Alan’s boundless creativity and his ambition for the show and for the future of Irish dance is an inspiration and his trailblazing energy is infectious. The Opera House have introduced me to a brilliant cast of collaborators and performers from Cork and around the country.”

After last year’s sell-out run, Cork Opera House’s hit production, ProdiJIG: The Revolution, is back at the theater from June 14-25. The ground-breaking show is the first arts event officially announced for the eagerly-anticipated 2017 Cork Midsummer Festival, running June 16-25.

"ProdiJIG: The Revolution"

Speaking on the new collaboration with Cork Midsummer Festival, CEO of Cork Opera House, Eibhlín Gleeson said, “Our partnership with Cork Midsummer Festival on ProdiJIG: The Revolution is a perfect fit. The production, which is about freedom of expression in art and in life, was such an inspiring and exciting show to produce and present last year. What better way to bring it back than with Cork Midsummer Festival.”

Cork Midsummer Festival Executive Director Lorraine Maye added “We are delighted to be partnering with them to bring it back for another electrifying run in Cork. A flagship event for our 2017 program, it is sure to wow a whole new audience in June.”

The full line-up of the exciting events planned for Cork’s largest annual multi-disciplinary arts festi-val will be revealed in early May. For more information visit www.corkmidsummer.com.

Saoirse Ronan gave Ed Sheeran a tattoo that was SUPPOSED TO say Galway Girl...

It’s a good job that Ed Sheeran had an otherwise memorable time last week when he visited Ireland to film the video for his next single “Galway Girl,” because the lasting memento he had inked on his body to remember it by was pranked in a way any leprechaun would be proud of by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.

Ronan is believed to be playing the role of the “Galway Girl” in question in the upcoming video, but in the spirit of the fun-loving, joking girl that the song is about, when Sheeran asked for the New-York born actress to write Galway Girl down so he could get a tattoo in her handwriting on his upper arm, the jokester wrote “Galway Grill” instead. English singer-songwriter Sheeran never copped on until it was way too late and the joke was already nicely planted on his skin.

“She really took the piss out of me with this one,” Sheeran told the crowd at his tour stop in Scotland.

“I’m actually kind of proud of her. It’s the kind of thing that I would do.”

There’s been no inkling from Ronan yet as to whether she’s anxious about any retaliation, but the joke appears to have been taken in good spirits.

It’s lucky that the “Shape of You” singer is OK with a relatively permanent practical joke being played out on his skin, but he’s already the owner of enough tattoos that it must be hard to keep up anyway. The singer already has an Irish-language tattoo that reads: “nuair is gá dom fháil bhaile, is tú mo réalt eolais” (when I need to get home, you’re my guiding light).

This tattoo is mentioned in the chart-topping Irish traditional song when the Galway girl/Saoirse Ronan says to him “what does it mean, the Gaelic ink on your arm?”

The singer, whose grandparents hail from Ireland, included two songs influenced by Irish traditional music on his third studio album “Divide” and brought on board the Belfast-based group Beoga to help him. Beoga joined Sheeran on stage during his two sold out shows in Dublin last week where they performed the “Galway Girl” tune sung by Mundy and Sharon Shannon before launching into Sheeran’s song of the same title.

The second song, “Nancy Mulligan,” tells the story of Sheeran’s grandparents who were Protestant and Catholic but ignored the difficulties and the family backlash to marry. Sheeran has spent a lot of time in Co. Wexford where his granny has now returned and often stays there when he has shows in Ireland.

The singer previously spent time busking on the streets of Galway before he reached such international stardom but returned last week to film part of the “Galway Girl” video at the same spot.

The flame-haired musician almost brought Co. Galway to a standstill as word spread that he was filming around the county and the crowds turned out to try to catch a glimpse. He was more than happy to see them, however, posting a thank you to Instagram before racing back to Dublin for his night-time show.

Read more: Ireland goes wild as Ed Sheeran films Galway Girl music video in Galway

Thank you to Galway and all the wonderful people in it for helping us shoot a music video yesterday x

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

H/T: Jezebel

Britain, Spain and the US are Irish air travelers' favorite destinations

Britain, Spain and the United States were Irish travelers’ favorite destinations to jet off in 2016. Statistics released by the Central Statistics Office show that over 33 million passengers passed through Irish airports in 2016 with the vast majority leaving or destined for Dublin Airport.

The number one flight destination or country of origin was the United Kingdom; 12,785,422 people flew to or from Ireland’s next door neighbor with England taking the lion’s share with 11,354,042 flights.

The figures come as no surprise with the London Heathrow-Dublin route consistently ranked as the world’s second most popular air corridor in the world.

Next up was the popular vacation destination of Spain. The sun drenched Mediterranean country accounted for 3,941,733 flights with almost exactly as many arrivals from the country, 1,970,894, as departures to, 1,970,839.

Taking bronze medal was the United States with 2,819,372 flights to and from Ireland. The figure of 2.8 million was well ahead of the next nearest destinations - EU powerhouses Germany and France with 1,990,645 and 1,941,426.

In total 87.3% of all flights were to and from fellow EU countries with that figure due to plummet in 2019 when Britain is due to exit the bloc.

Unsurprisingly summer and early autumn were the most popular time to either visit or take a vacation away from Ireland with over 3 million people using Irish airports in June, July, August and September. Numbers drop off steeply in January and February with under 2 million traveling but remained consistently over the 2 million mark for all other months.

Overall, the figures suggest that the Irish are increasingly traveling internationally and tourists are flocking to the Emerald Isle in ever greater numbers - the overall number of flights increased in 2016 by a massive 10.3% on the previous year.


Hero Irish firefighter carried unconscious runner to Boston Marathon finish line

A Northern Irish firefighter is being hailed as a hero for having carried a struggling fellow runner to the finish line of the Boston Marathon, letting her complete the challenge herself.

Crew Commander Terry Canning, from Omagh Station in Country Tyrone, completed the renowned 26-mile course in three hours and 34 minutes, a finishing time he could have improved upon had he not taken time to help a New Jersey runner, Julianne Bowe (28), who was overcome by heat and physical exhaustion.

This was Bowe’s second attempt at completing the Boston Marathon and she returned to the 121st race determined. She told NJ.com “I was so close to the end… It never occurred to me that anything would happen.”

With just half a mile (2,600 feet) of the race remaining Bowe collapsed. The race, from Hopkinton to Boston, took place on a warm day with temperatures reaching up to 79F. As Bowe’s legs buckled under her Canning, along with Mario Vargas from Chile, scooped the woman up and carried her to the finish line. He then let her finish the marathon under her own steam.

The poignant clip of Canning and Vargas’ selfless act has been viewed close to a million times.

Bowe added, “They put me down right before the finish line, and I crossed.

“I must have passed out again right after that."

She still recorded a time of just 3:33:20.

The New Jersey marathon runner said “I just want to thank them for being so selfless.

"They could have gotten a faster time, but instead they chose to help a complete stranger. That takes a special kind of person."

A spokesman from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said, "Well done to our Crew Commander Terry Canning from Omagh Fire Station.

"Terry your actions truly epitomize the essence of Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. You are a real hero at home and away. We are all so very proud of your selfless act. Congratulations on a fantastic finishing time too."

Canning was running in support of the Enda Dolan Foundation, a charitable foundation launched in the memory of an 18-year-old who was killed, during his first term at Queens University, when he was struck by a van in October 2014.

Read more: How she did it: the heroic Irish historian who broke the Tuam baby home scandal

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