Archive for the ‘Ireland & the U.K.’ Category

Big Brother bans hats in Yorkshire pubs

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

You can take our lives, but you can never take our silly British hats!!!

Eire to EU: No, nay, never

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Again with the Uprising, begob:

At the major ballot-counting center in Dublin, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan struggled to speak to reporters as anti-treaty activists jubilantly drowned him out with songs and chants of “No!” He eventually gave up and walked out, as one activist waved a sign reading “No to foreign rule” over his head.

Just rebel to the core, is all :}. OK here’s the deal ~ or rather, the No-deal (emphases added; and, Hat tip: sister-in-law Paddy Patty Ash :) ~~

Ireland’s voters have rejected the European Union reform treaty, a blueprint for modernizing the 27-nation bloc that cannot become law without Irish approval, electoral officials said Friday.

In a major blow to the EU, 53.4 percent of Irish voters said no to the treaty. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen now will join other EU leaders at a summit next week to try to negotiate a new way forward.

Anti-treaty groups from the far left and right mobilized “no” voters by claiming that the treaty would empower EU chiefs in Brussels, Belgium, to force Ireland to change core policies — including its low business tax rates, its military neutrality and its ban on abortion.

Among such “far left” groups was (naturally :) Sinn Féin (whose name is translatable to English as, appropriately enough, “Ourselves Alone” :). The treaty rejection is not only a blow to the EU’s grand plan :> but also a shillelagh upside the heads of the Republic’s mainstream political parties, all of which advocated a Yes vote ~ and perhaps especially a whack across the kneecaps of Fianna Fáil’s Brian Cowen, who has replaced the formerly unsinkable (and Always incomparable :) Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.

More after the break.


Noonan on Wright

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Peggy Noonan compares Jeremiah Wright to the Wolfe Tones. A must-read.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.)

U.K. church boycotts all weddings to protest ban on gay marriage ceremonies

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Here’s an interesting Newington story that has nothing to do with my hometown (though I did find it via my Google News Alert for "newington"). It’s from jolly old England:

Newington Green Unitarian Church, which the 18th century feminist Mary
Wollstonecraft once attended, has announced it will not hold marriages until it
is able to conduct civil partnerships for gay couples. …

At the moment, the law bans any religious service from taking place during a gay
civil partnership.

Minister Dr Andrew Pakula, who will only conduct services of blessing at
Newington Green until this is changed, said: "We will have no legal weddings
until we can conduct the same equal ceremonies for all couples – including
same-sex couples."

It’s pretty incredible to me that churches can be legally banned from doing as they please in this regard.  I, of course, completely agree with the council member who stated: "I wouldn’t advocate the law being changed to force churches to do gay marriages
but if they wanted to do it, then the law shouldn’t prevent it." Obviously. But I guess freedom of religion is "an American concept," too?

Éire PM Ahern to resign May 6

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

No more the Teflon Taoiseach: bid a long farewell to Bertie ~

April 2 (Bloomberg) — Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern will resign next month after presiding over the euro region’s fastest-growing economy for 10 years and helping broker peace in Northern Ireland. He quit under pressure from lawmakers over his failure to explain gifts and cash he got in the 1990s.

“I believe it’s in the best interests of the government, my party and the people of Ireland to set out a timetable for my departure,” Ahern, 56, told reporters in Dublin today.

A Dublin-based tribunal is investigating Ahern’s personal finances as part of a probe into illegal payments to politicians. The prime minister, leader of the Fianna Fail party, gave evidence for eight days at the tribunal and is scheduled to appear again next month.

…During Ahern’s time as premier, or taoiseach in Irish, the size of the economy more than doubled to $280 billion and the number of people with jobs increased 40 percent to a record 2.1 million. His government cut income, corporation and capital taxes and still ran budget surpluses in every year of his tenure except one.

…With then U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ahern helped bring about a Northern Ireland peace deal between unionists and republicans in the divided province. The climax came in May 2007, when Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley agreed to become first minister in a government with Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, signaling the end of more than three decades of conflict.

Once known as the “Teflon Taoiseach,” Ahern had previously escaped the taint of corruption scandals of the sort that destroyed the reputations of a number of Irish politicians, winning a third term in May 2007.

…“There’s still a huge amount of people in Ireland who 100 percent support Bertie,” said Nial Ring, 48, a pub owner from the Ballybough area of north Dublin, who was standing outside government buildings holding a banner saying “Ballybough Loves Bertie.”

Ahern’s announcement of his timetable for leaving office means he will still be able to take up an invitation to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington on April 30…

Something tells me that the Congress’s applause will be a cheering rousing chorus of appreciation for yer man notwithstanding any possible peccadilloes, and a grand Sendoff.

Captain Ed on “real” Irish music

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey (the guy who beat me for "Blogger of the Year" in 2005) and the Michelle Malkin-founded site Hot Air are usually good sources for right-wing political commentary — not Irish music nerdery. And yet Irish music nerdery is exactly what I found there, to my great delight, thanks to my Google News Alert for "’barra macneils’ | ‘liam clancy’ | ‘tommy makem’ | ‘clancy brothers’." Here what Ed wrote on the topic, they day before St. Paddy’s Day*:

“Danny Boy” is a beautiful, haunting song … the first thousand times you hear
After that, it gets pretty tiresome, and even more so to those in the Old
Country who tire of supplying renditions of it for American tourists. Irish
music consists of much more than “the pipes, the pipes are calling” and “I’ll
take you home again, Kathleen” — which owe more to America than Ireland. …

The Irish tolerate Danny Boy and the other “Irish songs” of America, but only
just. When my uncle visited Ireland almost 30 years ago, he asked one publican
where he could hear authentic Irish music. The Irishman asked, “Oh, you mean
like Danny Boy and I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen?” “Yes,” my uncle said.
“Nearest place I know is Boston,” came the reply. …

If you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some authentic Irish music, try
listening to The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Lunasa, The
Corrs, or even U2.

Hear, hear! (Morrissey later added the Pogues and The Dubliners to his list. I’d add the
Wolfe Tones, the Irish Rovers and, for a rather different but still related style,
Flogging Molly. And then you can branch out into Irish-inspired Atlantic Canadian bands like Great Big Sea, the Barra MacNeils, etc.)

I have to make a confession, though. For all my nodding in agreement with Captain Ed and making fun of the "sort of maudlin stuff that Bing Crosby sang," yesterday I totally cued up "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" on my iPod and, in unison with ol’ Bing, sang it to my shamrock-clad baby girl, in honor of St. Paddy’s Day. I feel so… dirty. :) But hey: she does have really beautiful Irish eyes. And when they’re smiling, they’ll steal your heart away!

Hey, sometimes it’s okay to be maudlin. :)

(Relevant background for those who haven’t read it: "Tommy Makem, 1932-2007 … and what he means to me." More here.)

*Or the day after St. Paddy’s Day, depending on your perspective.

And in brief tribute to that other madness of March…

Monday, March 17th, 2008

…a very blessed Saint Patrick‘s Day to one and All ~ and a reasonably ;> Enjoyable one as well.


Manhattan: Foley’s Pub bans “Danny Boy” for the whole month :)

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

And here you always thought March Madness consists merely of Basketball, Politics, and half-arsed-baked Recruitment Center Bombings in Times Square but OH No: now it’s Katie bar th’ Door to boot ~

It’s depressing, it’s not usually sung in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, and its lyrics were written by an Englishman who never set foot on Irish soil.

Those are only some of the reasons why a Manhattan pub owner is banning the song “Danny Boy” for the entire month of March.

“It’s overplayed, it’s been ranked among the 25 most depressing songs of all time and it’s more appropriate for a funeral than for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration,” said Shaun Clancy, who owns Foley’s Pub and Restaurant, across the street from the Empire State Building.

The 38-year-old Clancy, who started bartending when he was 12 at his father’s pub in County Cavan, Ireland, promised a free Guinness to patrons who sing any other traditional Irish song** at the pub’s pre-St. Patrick’s Day karaoke party on Tuesday.

…At least one patron at Foley’s was glad to hear the song was banned from the pub for the rest of the month.

The song is “all right, but I get fed up with hearing it — it’s like the elections,” Martin Gaffney, 73, said in a thick Irish brogue…


Belfast: judge acquits defendant in Omagh massacre

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Like Brendan’s below on the tiny Tunguska asteroid :), this story is a couple of days old but Here it is anyway.

A judge in Belfast Crown Court has ruled Sean Hoey, 38, an electrician from south County Armagh, not guilty in the hideous terrorist bombing in Omagh, County Tyrone, whereby the execrable RIRA (“Real Irish Republican Army”) slaughtered 29 innocent children, women and men in August of 1998.

Apparently the Northern Ireland police botched their evidence, and the prosecutors their presentation, so thoroughly that the charges were impossible to prove. The judge was reportedly scathing in his analysis of the authorities’ performance in the case.

None of which, quite obviously, provides any Justice to the families of the victims of the mass murder; nor can it ever tell us whether Mr. Hoey, in addition to being now legally Not Guilty, is or is not also factually Innocent of having functioned as the RIRA Bombmaker ~ which we can now only hope (as he of course claims) that he really, actually, truly did Not.

The BBC’s Kevin Connolly gives us a good overview, well worth reading in full, of the whole horrid business, including these telling passages:

…But more than anything, for the rest of us, it was the timing of the attack on Omagh which burned it into our memories.

It came just four months after Northern Ireland’s fractious political parties made a political deal which included Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA.

It tore apart a community in a province which was beginning to learn to hope after decades of despair – and it made people fear that the new dawn which had promised so much, would be quickly and cruelly extinguished.

Like the other bombings in the early part of 1998 in places like Lisburn and Banbridge, Omagh was a conscious attempt by republicans who disagreed with the political strategy of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, to destabilise Northern Ireland in that vulnerable moment of hope.

It failed – but there is a terrible irony to the way in which the campaign was halted only by the wave of revulsion triggered by the carnage at Omagh.

…The Omagh families were dignified in defeat, as they have been dignified at every stage of their fight for justice. Their campaigning will go on, but the prospect is surely receding now that anyone will ever be convicted of murdering their husbands and brothers and sisters and wives and children.

As this case fades from our memories it’s worth remembering the victims of all Northern Ireland’s atrocities for whom the pain is not fading even as the province heads into a more hopeful future.


Get the hell out… of England?

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

They say that in ‘artford, ‘ereford, and ‘ampshire, ‘urricanes ‘ardly hever ‘appen. However, in Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Essex, North Yorks and Lincs, they’re preparing for a wicked storm surge. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called an emergency Cobra meeting to address the situation, which could turn life-threatening. (Hat tip: Peter Evans.)

I’m a 6th generation Irish-American

Friday, September 14th, 2007

My mom has been doing some genealogical research, and has apparently found the answer to a question I’ve long wondered about: just how many generations ago did the Irish side of my family (the McNamaras) emigrate from the old country and come to America? It seems the answer is six. My dad is a fifth-generation American on the McNamara side, and I’m sixth-generation.

According to my mom’s research, my great-great-great-grandfather, John McNamara, was born in Ireland in 1822.  His wife Mary, my great-great-great-grandmother, was also born in Ireland, in 1828.  I don’t know when they got married, but it seems they had their first child in 1855 or thereabouts, in Connecticut. Their fifth child, born in 1863 (also in Connecticut), was Daniel, a second-generation American and my great-great-grandfather. Dan McNamara begat Joe McNamara, who begat Helen McNamara Loy, my paternal grandmother. And the rest, as they say, is history. (Though as Nana Loy would point out, "What the hell do they know? They’re a bunch of horse’s asses anyway." Or words to that effect. :)

My understanding is that the McNamaras always claimed that they had come over before the Great Potato Famine, but we’ve never been sure if that claim was accurate. It has been speculated that certain proud members of the family might have wanted to separate themselves from the riffraff, if you will, by pretending they weren’t forced to come here because of starvation, as so many other "shanty Irish" were. Well, now we finally have some dates, and let’s see: if we assume that John and Mary were married in Ireland, and that she was at least 18 when they got hitched, that would mean they left Ireland sometime between 1846 and ~1855.

The famine was from 1845 to 1849. Ahem. You do the math.

So my ancestors, it seems, were quite likely refugees of the Great Potato Famine. Interesting.

UPDATE: Belatedly, it occurs to me that my logic vis a vis the timetable may not be entirely airtight. All we know, I think, is that John and Mary were both born in Ireland; we don’t actually know that they emigrated together, as adults, as opposed to emigrating separately, as children, and then meeting and marrying in America. The latter is also possible, and it would not be at all surprising if two first-generation immigrants met in this country and married each other; immigrant communities were very tight-knit in those days. If that were the case, it would mean the McNamaras did indeed come over here before the famine.

Of course, the other thing that’s odd about this whole train of thought is that, although I talk about these great-great-great-grandparents as "the McNamaras" because they are the ones who carried the name McNamara, the reality is I’m really only talking about a small sliver of the Irish ancestry from the "McNamara side" of my grandparentage (i.e., from my Nana Loy). One-eighth of it, to be exact. John and Mary McNamara were Nana Loy’s great-grandparents; they represent a mere 12.5% of her bloodline. Yet she was 100% Irish. That means seven-eighths of Nana’s (and my) Irishness came from other ancestors, who may have emigrated at other times, under other circumstances.

Regardless, I find this sort of stuff fascinating. I wish I knew more about my ancestors; I’d love to read their life stories, if they were written down anywhere. Even little snippets of information, though, make me feel more connected to these long-ago ages past. For my Immigration Law class at Notre Dame last fall, we had to write a brief paper about our own "immigration history," and in the course of researching it (again mostly via my mom), I learned all sorts of stuff I’d never known before, like how the Loomers (my maternal grandfather’s side) are really a very old family in this country, dating back to the mid-1600s, as I recall. They didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but they weren’t that far removed from it either. … Alas, very very little is known about the Loys. We don’t even really know where they came from, or what the origin of the name is.

Makem funeral today

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Tommy Makem’s funeral is later today in Dover, New Hampshire. A large crowd of mourners is expected.

Rumor has it that my mom was planning to bring her guitar to the cabin in the Adirondacks where we’re meeting up tomorrow. If that happens, I suspect we may sing a few songs in Tommy’s honor.

P.S. Here is the Irish Echo article about Makem’s passing.

Makem wake, funeral next week

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Funeral arrangements for Tommy Makem have been announced:

Relatives and friends are invited to call Monday from 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., and Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., at the Tasker Funeral Home, 621 Central Ave., Dover. [Yes, but will there be booze at the wake? -ed.]

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Thursday at St. Mary Church, corner of Chestnut and Third Streets, with Rev. Fritz Cerullo, O.S.A. Pastor as celebrant. Burial will follow in St. Mary New Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, it is requested that memorials in his name be made to a fund being started in the name of Tommy & Mary Makem Fund, c/o Attorney William H. Shaheen, P.O. Box 977, Dover, NH 03821-0977.

Also, according to, “Condolences and Mass Cards can be sent to PO Box 336, Dover, NH 03821-0336.”

P.S. There will be a tribute to Makem on Sunday at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, OH. Makem was originally scheduled to appear at the festival.

I’m a Catholic, I’m not a Protestant

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

As long as I’m posting old Makem and Clancy clips… here’s a funny one from the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem about the whole Catholic-Protestant conflict. The joke the precedes that the song (told by the late great Tommy Makem, in fine form as usual) might be the best part, but the song (The Old Orange Flute) is pretty funny too.

source file

Life imitates

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Peter Evans, July 2: “‘Summer terror spectacular’? Is it a musical? Will the terrorists be holding a musical?”

AFP, August 2: “‘Jihad: The Musical,’ which features songs including ‘I wanna be like Osama’ and is described as ‘a madcap gallop through the wacky world of international terrorism,’ is on at the Edinburgh Fringe festival this month.”


UPDATE: There’s video!