Archive for the ‘Popular Culture’ Category

For the day, and times, that’s in it

11 November 2011

Here we go again. In more ways than one. Thinking about tonight’s match and the world that’s crumbling around us, my mind was immediately drawn to this: Dermot Bolger’s fictional account of following Ireland to the 1988 European Championships (or ‘Euro ’88’ in the vernacular) through the eyes of a migrant. The following scene takes place in Gelsenkirchen just after Wim Kieft has scored a late goal for the Netherlands to effectively knock Ireland out of the tournament.

I stood up amongst the silent men and women, their faces white, and I raised my hands.

“Ireland!” I screamed. “Ireland! Ireland!” I had six minutes of my old life to go. Six minutes more to cheat time. The crowd joined in with me. Every one of them. From Dublin to Cork. From London and all over Europe. And suddenly I knew this was the only country I still owned. Those eleven men in green shirts, half of whom were born abroad.

Shane and Mick stood firm at my right and left shoulders. I knew they were thinking too of the long train journeys ahead. The tunnel was being pulled out for the end of the match. Men gathering down on the touch-line. We lifted our voices in that wall of noise, one last time to urge the lads on.

Ireland! Ireland! Ireland!

(From: Dermot Bolger, In High Germany, New Island edition (Dublin, 1999), p. 52.)


Trinity Revamp

11 October 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

I had to share this picture that I took yesterday at Trinity, particularly for those of you who are not in and about the capital at the moment (or for those who weren’t quite sure what was going on). One of my recommendations this month was to visit Dublin Contemporary but I must admit it was not until yesterday morning when I arrived to get some work done in the library that I realised that Trinity is one of the venues for the exhibit. To advertise the venue at the Douglas Hyde Gallery this image has been added to the front of the University. One of the first aims of the exhibit is to reach ‘out to encompass the city’s lively public realm’. While I am not sure about charging 10 euro admission to the main exhibit at Earlsfort Terrace, I think this is a fantastic way of making some of their work accessible to those who may not be drawn inside. The exhibit at Douglas Hyde is by Alice Neal and is, however, free and worth a look. I love this image- I find it so striking!

Once I stepped inside to front square I spotted a large film crew. A friend on facebook later mentioned that  Bollywood has come to Dublin and filming for an Indian film is going on at venues across the city. Unfortunately when I went back for a look rain had forced much of the cast in doors so I don’t have an equally exciting image of Bollywood dancers on the cobblestones for you but I will keep my phone ready in case I spot any!

Strokestown Famine Museum Project

24 August 2011

Contributed by Joanne McEntee

‘Twas the black potatoes the scattered
our people
Facing the poorhouse or overseas
And in the mountain cemetery do they
in hundreds lie …’

The above verse, taken from Amhrán na bPrátaí Dubha (The Song of the Black Potatoes), starkly reveals the immense impact of the Great Famine 1845-50. While it is easy to get lost in figures with the 1851 census revealing how at a national level some 2,400,000 or more than a quarter of the population were lost through death or emigration, one can only imagine the effect of such losses at a local level.

Various museums exist across the country that exploring different aspects of the famine from a local perspective. From Doagh to Donaghmore, and from St. Mary’s Church, to the Jeanie Johnston to mention but a few, such local sites act as significant reminders in their vicinities and beyond of both the suffering and immense endurance of man. Although billed as the Irish national famine museum, the Strokestown Park museum, Roscommon appears to remain outside of the consciousness of many. Read more

Irish history and historians on Wikipedia

14 July 2011

By Juliana Adelman

A few years ago some historians of science decided that they ought to embrace Wikipedia.  Instead of worrying about whether it was accurate, they were going to use their expertise to try to make it as accurate as possible for topics within their expertise.  There is a special Wiki devoted to this process which you can see here.  If you are anything like me, you tend to use Wikipedia to look up things that you know nothing about.  They tend not to be topics associated with your research, but more things that you are curious about.  Wikipedia, used with a very large pinch of salt, can sometimes point the way to finding reliable sources.  If you do any teaching you quickly realise that students view it in a similar way. They use Wikipedia to look up things that they don’t know anything about.  The problem is, what they don’t know anything about is probably their essay topic.  It may sound radical, but I think it’s time that we embraced Wikipedia and just tried to improve it.  Maybe if we added appropriate references to books then people would go and look at them, too. Read More

Gulliver’s Marathon

2 July 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

During the Dublin Writer’s Festival I met the illustrator Chris Riddell, beloved children’s author, illustrator and political cartoonist. He was speaking with Paul Stewart to some school groups about how a children’s book is written and published. They had a fantastic way of engaging with their audience. It was only after the event while looking through his books that I realised he had illustrated a beautiful version of Gulliver’s Travels which I have on my shelf at home. I had purchased it to give it to a niece as a gift but it has never made its way out of my own collection, but considering the above cover who can blame me? The illustrations are really superb. Although I can’t make it I was delighted to hear that there is a marathon reading of Gulliver’s Travels being undertaken this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) for charity as part of the Trim Swift Festival. They are looking for readers, 5 euro allows you to read for 10 minutes with all proceeds going to Aware. They are looking for an audience too and readings take place in Suzuki Swift in Trim. It sounds like good fun!You can get more details here.

Top Five: Bob Dylan’s histories

1 June 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

I use the term ‘histories’ loosely. For, as any of you who have seen No Direction Home, read Dylan’s own brilliant Chronicles, Vol. 1, or had the urge to peruse any of the myriad biographies produced over the last forty years or so will know, Bob Dylan is a man well versed in the art of bending the truth. (And no stranger to others doing the same for him, as he recently commented: ‘I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.’) Since he turned 70 last week, and since we haven’t had a ‘Top Five’ in a while, I thought it would be fitting to have an American history as told by Bob Dylan list. All corrections, suggestions, contradictions and admonitions gratefully accepted via the comments box below.

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

The opening lines say it all: ‘William Zantzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll / With a cane that had twirled round his diamond-ringed finger / At a Baltimore hotel society gathering’. Here was Dylan at his storytelling best: basic history combined with active mind and a genius for storytelling, with a twist of racial injustice – Carroll was a black waitress – thrown in for good measure. Zantzinger, who served a six-month prison sentence for manslaughter, died in 2009 still bitter at what he viewed as Dylan’s distorted picture of the events.  Read More

Gulliver’s Travels at Smock Alley

14 January 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

I spotted this on the Smock Alley Facebook Page the other day and it is top of my list of things to do this weekend- The Wonderland production of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s travels at the Smock Alley Theatre.  Six actor/musicians undertake the central roles, while puppets are used for the Lilliputians and the audience are asked to use their imagination to conjure up the giants of Brobdingnag. The costumes and set look fantastic (see below for more pictures). The Irish Times review can be found here.

I love the idea of going to see a production of Gulliver’s Travels in a theatre which Jonathan Swift would have been familiar with. You can find a short history of the theatre and the restoration here.

Suitable for ages 7+ Running from 3rd Jan to 22nd Jan. Tuesday – Saturday 7pm; Saturday and Sunday 2pm, Children from €9.50; adults from €12; family of four from €44

See more pictures

Capturing ordinary life in extraordinary times

22 November 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Amid the deception, the outrage and the dark, dark humour of it all, last week’s events set me thinking about how we get to the history of the ordinary. In thirty years’ time, when historians – if they even wait that long – get to writing about the collapse of the Irish state, they will have no shortage of indignant voices to draw from. On Friday, the Irish Times carried ‘Two pages of your letters to the Editor’. On Saturday, the Financial Times devoted dozens of column inches to ‘Ireland on the Brink’. The front of this morning’s Metro Herald (or whatever it’s called these days) carries a photo of a hand-made paper sign posted at the entrance to the Department of an Taoiseach: ‘Traitors’.

It won’t stop there. The lucky few to access the RTÉ archives will get a glimpse and an earful of life after the horse has bolted. There will be a whole generation of emigrant stories to draw from, as the refugees of the ‘knowledge economy’ find their talents better valued elsewhere. And a raft of ‘new’ Irish, too, will find their voices and interpretations of life in post-Tiger Ireland.

I could go on. But what’s troubling me is not the process of documenting public outrage. It is simply to wonder, as we live through extraordinary times, how much of their crushing ‘ordinariness’ will be discarded or simply missed by future historians. I’m not claiming that people are uninterested in the manoeuvrings of the EU and the IMF and the massive impact they will have on their lives. However much his words were chosen in the interests of political points scoring, Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes’s comments on the government’s extraordinary ‘we’re fine’ line last week captured the mood of a nation: ‘it’s a pile of shit … and you don’t believe it’. Read More

Random history from my month of July

8 October 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

At the beginning of the summer, tired of trying to remember all those good things I’d seen/heard of and intended to include in our monthly recommendations, but just didn’t quite get around to, I had what I thought was a clever idea. I’d start a list, include everything that sparked my interest in the course of one month (July), recommendable or not, and come autumn I would have an interesting image of my media and reading habits, and how history crosses their paths over the course of four weeks.

Looking back over my hand-written notes, digital lists, and a number of bookmarked web pages, what I’ve collected strikes me as an interesting reflection of our interaction with the waves of media that wash over us. Some things stick, and not always the ones you might imagine. You might think that it would prove a very personal, and a very idiosyncratic list. And you’d be right. You might think that its voyage would be very difficult to track, would make quite an egocentric piece, and be of little interest to anyone else. And you’d be sort of right. But it’s now autumn and what I’ve collected feels like a Friday piece, so read on through my notes at your peril and I’ll let you be the judge.

  • Leadbelly’s false history. [Explanatory note: This was from an article in The Word detailing how the back-story of American blues musician Leadbelly was greatly exaggerated by marketing men in order to heighten his appeal among white audiences. Good ideas never grow old, etc.]
  • ‘Folk’ music as an invention of the Victorians. First reference to folk music not until 1843 and didn’t enter dictionary until late C19th. [From a podcasted interview with Rob Young, author of Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music (about 11.55 in). Young revealed that the term ‘folk music’ was, in fact, largely an invention of the Victorians. ‘Ploughmen are not sitting out there in the sixteenth century thinking about going to the folk club tonight.’]
  • Italian painter Caravaggio killed someone. How he was killed himself. Read More

Happy Birthday, Dublin Review!

9 September 2010

By Christina Morin

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of The Dublin Review, a self-described ‘quarterly magazine of essays, criticism, fiction and reportage’. Established in 2000 by Brendan Barrington, a New Yorker born to Irish parents, the magazine was intended to fill the gap Barrington perceived in the Irish literary marketplace when he first moved to Ireland in the 1990s. As reported in The Sunday Business Post in July 2002, Barrington said, ‘There was nothing that seemed to answer my idea of what a general Irish literary magazine should be, which is to say a combination of critical writing, creative writing and non-specialist, non-academic writing – magazines to which the same international writers contribute regularly’.

The magazine’s first issue appeared in 2001, with much assistance, financial and otherwise, from the Arts Council, and featured a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the Irish literary world; Terry Eagleton, Anne Enright, Medbh McGuckian, and Colm Tóibín all contributed. The second issue, appearing in Spring 2001, similarly boasted a strong line-up, with Terence Brown, Roy Foster, Seamus Heaney, Declan Kiberd, and Colm Tóibín, amongst others, supplying a fascinating collection of essays, poetry, and fiction. Subsequent issues have built on these auspicious beginnings, featuring pieces by prominent Irish writers, critics, and academics, as well as by newer, less-established voices in the Irish literary scene. Read more