Monthly Archives: October 2010

Flann O’Brien

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in rural Ireland. My wife and daughter are in Italy, as I mentioned to Cymbeline; my son and his girlfriend are still in bed. I have not yet had breakfast but have almost finished a pot of coffee.

There are various things I could be doing. I need to finish editing a paper on schizophrenia. I need to rebuild part of a dry-stone wall that has collapsed. I must walk the dogs at some point. Later I shall watch Munster v. Toulon and Saracens v. Leinster – the Heineken Cup, important stuff.

I had intended to post an extract from Flann O’Brien’s novel The Third Policeman, but the text does not appear to be available online, and typing it out laboriously does not appeal to me just now, although I have done this with extracts from other books, including Ernie O’Malley’s. Continue reading

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Filed under Ireland, Literature

Mink menace

A few months ago, I noticed that the two dogs were barking madly at a car parked in front of our house. After they had been brought inside, a juvenile mink, which had taken refuge in the undercarriage, jumped down and ran away (it looked just like a black stoat). I have also seen adult mink near by.

Recently, some idiots released 5,000 mink from a fur farm in Co. Donegal; this has potentially catastrophic consequences for local wildlife. Mink are gradually colonizing the country … there are calls for their eradication, but this would be difficult and expensive (estimated at over €1 million for an area of just 800 km2). Continue reading

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Filed under Ireland, Wildlife

Medusa

[Previously posted on MyT]

He was sitting on a rock at the edge of the sand, playing with a piece of bladder-wrack he’d picked up – bursting the bladders, and thinking about this and that.

‘Medusa,’ she said, ‘had seaweed on her head. Instead of hair.’ He looked up and saw her – a slight, smiling, dark-haired girl, his own age or close, blocking the dim sun.

She sat down on the rock to the right of his, uninvited, and continued to speak in a strong country accent … probably a traveller, he thought as he inspected her, which he was free to do as she was looking out to sea. The wind blew back her ropes of hair and showed her face. Continue reading

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War in Ireland, 1921

This is another extract from On Another Man’s Wound, by Ernie O’Malley. I posted one here; a post dealing with similar themes appears here. This incident – the execution of three British officers in reprisal for the killing of prisoners – occurred in the same part of South Tipperary as this and this.

We walked into the closing-in darkness, riflemen in front and behind the trap, until we were at a distance from where the officers had been captured. I expected a big round-up in which the countryside would be combed by troops from Cahir and Clonmel – both strong military posts. They would probably converge in the triangular area of which Fethard was the apex.

We came to a farmhouse up in the fields some way off the main Clonmel road. Sentries were posted. The girls and women of the house got ready supper; they did not ask questions. A fire was lighted in the room where the officers were. After supper I went into the room. The blinds were drawn so that they could not look out. It was a large room. They were seated at a table. One had his head in his hands. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Ireland, Literature

The women of France

This is an extract from Patrick MacGill’s First World War memoir, The Red Horizon.

“… Oh! ‘ang it, Pat, they’re nothin’ to the French girls, them birds at ’ome.”

“What about that girl you knew at St. Albans?” I asked. “You remember how she slid down the banisters and made toffee.”

“She wasn’t no class, you know,” said Bill.

“She never answered the verse you sent from Givenchy, I suppose,” I remarked.

“It’s not that—-”

“Did she answer your letter saying she reciprocated your sentiments?” I asked.

“Reshiperate your grandmother, Pat!” roared Bill. “Nark that language, I say. Speak that I can understand you. Wait a minute till I reshiperate that,” he suddenly exclaimed pressing a charge into his rifle magazine and curving over the parapet. He sent five shots in the direction from which he supposed the sniper who had been potting at us all day, was firing. Then he returned to his argument.

“You’ve seen that bird at the farm in Mazingarbe?” he asked. Continue reading

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Rev. Nicholas Sheehy (1728–1766)

For Ireland, the legacy of the seventeenth-century wars was a volatile, fragmented society, as illustrated by this case.

Nicholas Sheehy was born in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, in 1728. He was educated in Spain, and ordained a priest in 1750. He became parish priest of small parishes in the Fethard/Clogheen area of South Tipperary (whence my own ancestors, on the male line, sprang, and which later saw this incident).

At the time, the poor Catholics of Ireland were very much oppressed by the ‘penal laws’ and a form of ‘government against the people’. An agrarian movement known as the Whiteboys was active in Counties Tipperary, Waterford, Limerick, Cork and Kilkenny – ‘part of an underground that had learned not only to separate the formal law from popular notions of legitimacy, but also how to impose an alternative discipline through intimidation’, as R.F. Foster puts it. Continue reading

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Filed under History, Ireland