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16 June 2012
A series of events is taking place across Dublin on Saturday to mark Bloomsday in honour of one of Ireland’s most famous writers, James Joyce.
The city celebrates Bloomsday every year on 16 June in tribute to Leopold Bloom, a fictional character in Joyce’s groundbreaking novel, Ulysses.
Every year James Joyce’s native city celebrates his seminal work, Ulysses
The story follows an ordinary day in the life of Leopold Bloom as he made his way across Dublin on 16 June 1904.
This is the first Bloomsday since Joyce’s work passed out of copyright.
The author died in Switzerland in 1941 and for many years his estate strictly enforced its control over the re-publication of his works.
At the launch of Saturday’s celebrations in Dublin, the Irish President, Michael D Higgins, paid a warm tribute to James Joyce as one of the greatest writers Ireland has ever produced.
He described Ulysses as “a groundbreaking piece of work” which introduced a “new style of narration” to the novel genre and forced the reader to become an “active participator in the process as opposed to a passive onlooker”.
“No longer would we have the traditional all-seeing, dependable narrator of old style fiction who would tell us all we needed to know, requiring little thought or input from us, the reader,” Mr Higgins said.
Ulysses is widely regarded as one of the most important literary works of the 20th Century but when it was first published, it was viewed as obscene and was banned in the United States.
Joyce left Ireland in 1904 with his wife Nora Barnacle and only made four return visits to his homeland, the last of those in 1912.
The president said Joyce was one his country’s “most famous exiles” who had gone to live abroad because he “foresaw that the writing he wished to do would be difficult in Ireland”.
Mr Higgins added that Joyce’s seminal work still has relevance in the author’s native country.
“Although it was written at the commencement of the last century, Ulysses is a novel that resounds, in many ways, with a particular significance for early 21st Century Ireland, a country going through seismic change and not a little upheaval.”
Bloomsday has also been marked by a series of programmes on BBC Radio 4.
April 06 2012
More than 3,500 people who died as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland are being honoured in Dublin.
For three hours the names of each victim of the Troubles will be read during a Good Friday ceremony in the Dublin Unitarian Church in St Stephen’s Green.
The annual act of commemoration – now in its 12th year – is the only religious service of its kind in Ireland.
Andy Pollak, of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, said the reading of names illustrates powerfully the terrible, random nature of death in war and civil conflict.
“All human life and death is in this mournful list,” he said.
British soldiers, IRA volunteers, loyalist paramilitaries, Ulster policemen and women, gardai, part-time UDR men, prison officers, civil rights marchers and judges are remembered, alongside the innocent victims of all ages killed in cities, towns and villages across Northern Ireland, the Irish republic and Britain.
The list starts alphabetically with Anthony Abbott, a soldier from Manchester shot dead by the IRA in Ardoyne in North Belfast in 1976.
It will finish with William and Letitia Younger, an elderly Protestant man and his daughter, who were beaten, stabbed and shot by intruders in their home in Ligoniel in 1980.
Chronologically, the sad litany begins in 1966 with John Patrick Scullion, a Catholic storeman shot by the UVF in Belfast.
The last victim, Catholic PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr, was murdered in a car bomb attack by dissidents in Omagh, County Tyrone, last April.
By Terry Fagan
North Inner City Folklore Project
5 Apr 2012
Unveiling a plaque to Captain Sean Heuston Irish Volunteers
The event will open Easter Monday 12 noon at Liberty Hall with a re-enactment of the hoisting of the Citizen Army flag hoisted there in 1916 by James Connolly and a young fourteen girl from Gardiner Street Molly O’Reilly
North Inner City Folklore Project, Dublin
85 Amiens Street, Dublin 1. Telephone 087-9210673
folklore at eircom dot net
April 9th 2012
THE North Inner City Folklore Project is honouring Local man Irish Volunteer Captain Sean Heuston who was born in 1891 at Lower Gloucester Street now (Sean McDermott Street). Heuston was executed by a British firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol on the 8 May 1916 at the age of twenty-five years.
The event will open Easter Monday 12 noon at Liberty Hall with a re-enactment of the hoisting of the Citizen Army flag hoisted there in 1916 by James Connolly and a young fourteen girl from Gardiner Street Molly O’Reilly.
This will be recreated Easter Monday by the grandson of James Connolly, James Connolly-Herron, and Molly O’Reilly niece Ciara Gallagher. A colour party in the period uniforms of the Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan will accompany them.
The crowd will then parade to Lower Sean McDermott Street led by pipers and people carrying photographs of the leaders of the Easter Rising.
At 1pm, at Lower Sean McDermott Street facing Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Constance Corcoran, daughter of Molly O’Reilly who’s, mother was a member of the City Hall garrison and Mrs Steenson, whose mother was a member of the GPO/Clery’s garrison will unveil the plaque to Sean Heuston.
Two children from area will lay a wreath’s at the spot.
After a lament by the pipers, there will be a 1916-1922 photographic exhibition, in a nearby community hall.
1 Apr 2012
The earliest set of police records in Ireland have been brought to life and digitised for a world wide audience.
Records dating back to 1724 from the parish of St John in Dublin have gone online with the Church of Ireland’s Representative Church Body (RCB) Library.
The two account books (1724-85) and seven registers (1765-80) reveal the names of constables and watchmen, when and where they were stationed, crimes committed in the area, and the justice administered.
Archivist Dr Susan Hood said the surviving watch records reveal local security measures across Ireland when policing happened at parish level before the Dublin Police Act, 1786.
“As the pages of each of these volumes are turned in the digital presentation, local society in 18th century Dublin and the activities of parish watch system, come to life,” she said.
“They chronicle the activities of the parish watch of this particular inner city parish – one of 21 parishes into which the city of Dublin was divided.”
To view the collection, digitised by the Garda Siochana Historical Society, visit www.ireland.anglican.org/library/archive. The originals can also be seen in the RCB Library in Breamor Park, Churchtown.
A Garda spokesman said: “An Garda Siochana are delighted to have collaborated in the online publishing of these rare documents which trace the origins of modern policing in Ireland.”
Dr Hood said the collection forms the oldest continuous set of Irish parish registers, vestry minutes, churchwardens’ accounts and local taxation records in existence.
“It includes the earliest surviving register of baptisms, marriages and burials, dating from 1619, and an even older vestry minute book, commencing in 1595,” she added.
By Julie Kirby, Dublin reporter
23 Mar 2012
Hundreds of thousands died in the Battle of Passchendaele from July to November 1917
People in the Irish Republic have been remembering their ancestors’ involvement in the Great War this week.
A call by the National Library in Ireland for family souvenirs of World War I has brought large numbers of people to Dublin.
The mementoes will form part of a european-wide project to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war in 1914.
Peg Coyle from County Mayo has a bag filled with items evoking precious memories of her father, Michael Staunton.
There are Christmas cards, medals, papers and even a helmet belonging to the soldier who fought in the Scottish Royal Field Artillery.
She said: “He died in 1964 and I used to always say to my mother I’d love to find out more, and she’d say ‘look let it go with him’, he never talked about it.
“When my brother and I were small we would question him about the war and his big brown eyes would fill with tears and he would say I hope you never live to see a war like it again.”
It was an emotional day for Peg, who says it is only in later years she has realised the greatness of what her father did.
Of course for many in the Irish Republic, to serve in the British Army in the last century was not considered something to celebrate.
That sentiment is changing, as evidenced by the hundreds upon hundreds of people who have turned up at Dublin’s National Library.
They have come to have their stories and mementoes saved for posterity.
The medals, photographs, diaries and many other items will all be logged and digitised as part of the Europeana project – the first ever Europe-wide online archive of private stories and documents to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.
Jonathan Purday is the project’s head of communications.
There have been roadshows in nine different countries so far, and the turnout in Ireland has far surpassed anything he has yet experienced.
“In a way I’m not surprised because people have an urge to tell that story – the forgotten story of a difficult decade in Irish life and it gives the opportunity to celebrate people who were stalwart and brave,” he said.
What is unique about the project is that it will record all shades of opinion, from dissenter to war hero, he said.
And those stories will be accessible to a new generation on new technologies such as phone apps, ensuring little is forgotten.
There to remember his grandfather was Paddy Reid from Dublin.
His grandfather was Patrick O’Neill who spent much of his life suffering because of injuries he suffered at the Battle of Passchendaele.
“I just want to honour his memory because it wasn’t honoured at the time, there was a sense of shame and guilt that they had fought in the wrong war, so to speak,” he said.
“I’m just proud we’re here now to honour those men, they’re long gone but not forgotten.”
Paddy had his grandfather’s discharge papers with him.
They said “surplus to requirements” – a cruel way, Paddy feels, to dismiss a young man who would suffer physically and emotionally for the rest of his life for his contribution to the Great War.
At least his story and all the others can now be told.
By Liam Clarke
Friday, 10 February 2012
The story of the Troubles can be seen as a growing understanding between the Irish and British states whose latest fruit was the Queen’s visit to the Republic.
In that time Britain moved, in the Irish psyche, from an ancient enemy still to be treated with suspicion to a neighbour with shared interests.
By 1989, when Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan were murdered at Jonesboro, the process was fairly advanced.
The Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin has heard that the officers died returning from an intelligence exchange with gardai where a joint operation against Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, chief of staff of the IRA, was planned. That showed progress.
Yet the fact that the officers’ movements were compromised led to suspicion that some in the gardai may have helped the IRA target them. At the tribunal, three retired officers all denied involvement.
It is pointless pre-judging the inquiry, but at the time security forces north and south dismissed collusion allegations.
Brian Fitzsimons, head of RUC Special Branch, told me he did not believe gardai were involved. He also denied claims that the IRA had taken Mr Breen’s notebook containing intelligence details: “We have the chief superintendent’s briefcase and papers,” he said.
He blamed a security lapse by Mr Buchanan, who used his own car instead of a pool vehicle and parked it in front of the Garda station.
Was Mr Fitzsimons telling me the truth? Or was he playing a larger game to keep the lid on things and help preserve cross-border relations?
At this stage, extradition of terrorist suspects, long impossible, was starting to happen. Was developing such co-operation of greater strategic importance than the satisfaction of pointing the finger for a single atrocity?
Did he intend to ‘turn a trick’, in Special Branch parlance, by getting information from a rogue garda with the help of his colleagues?
Certainly, the Irish state’s relationship to the IRA was murky and ambiguous when the conflict ignited.
Unable to directly help northern nationalists under pressure, it set up refugee centres, trained northern civilians in the use of arms and even offered guns and money to insurgent groups, much as Britain is threatening to do in Syria today.
John Kelly, an IRA man and later a Sinn Fein MLA, told me in 2005 of meetings with ministers: “Initially, our contacts were with the Irish government, as we understood it. We met Brian Lenihan and Paddy Hillary, Jack Lynch and Jim Gibbons [the defence minister] – there were others.”
Kelly added: “I said ‘There is no need for blankets or feeding bottles. We need arms to defend the people’. They accepted all that. It was open, transparent and above board. There was no subterfuge, no winking and nodding and no cute hoorism.”
In the subsequent trial, the men he named did not feature and everyone was acquitted, although, as John Kelly told me before his death, the plot was real enough.
It was an age away from official receptions for the Queen. Mr Justice Smithwick will have to decide what point in the spectrum had been reached in March 1989 when the IRA opened fire in Jonesboro.
5 January 2012
SINN Fein have tried to prevent a proposal to invite a representative from the Republic of Ireland for the first time to Belfast for Remembrance Sunday.
SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy proposed last night at the monthly meeting of Belfast City Council to invite a representative from the Irish government to Remembrance events.
The Irish government has never before been officially invited.
Mr McCarthy told the News Letter before the meeting that with other countries including Canada and Poland represented at the council’s Remembrance events, he felt it was time to ask Ulster’s closest neighbour.
Mr McCarthy proposed that, in consultation with the Royal British Legion, the council should “extend an invitation to the Republic of Ireland to participate from 2012 onwards in the commemoration to mark the Battle of the Somme and the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the cenotaph in Belfast”.
He told the meeting that he felt the time was right after the historic visit of the Queen to Dublin last year when she paid tribute to fallen republicans at Dublin’s garden of remembrance.
DUP councillor Christopher Stalford said he was happy to second the motion, describing it as a sign of how far the relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland had come.
And Alliance councillor Maire Hendron lent the backing of her party.
However, Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh said his party would not support the proposal, saying he and his colleagues believe it is “premature”, and “ill thought-out”.
SDLP councillor Tim Attwood challenged him on this, asking if the visit of Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny to the cenotaph during his Belfast trip last year was premature.
Mr McVeigh went on to say he had recently found out his grandmother’s brother had fought and died in the First World War and that he and his family plan to travel to France to lay a wreath in his memory.
In response, DUP councillor William Humphrey asked in that case why was he not comfortable inviting the Irish government to Remembrance events in Belfast.
Mr McVeigh said that while he respected the bravery of the men who fought in the First World War, as a republican and socialist he was opposed to that “imperialist war”.
DUP councillor Robin Newton said he was “absolutely confused” by Sinn Fein’s position.
Sinn Fein went on to propose an amendment to the motion, calling for the council to continue to work together with others – including the Irish government – over the coming decade.
This was defeated by 30 votes to 15, with only Sinn Fein councillors voting for it.
The original motion was then passed by 30 votes to none, with Sinn Fein councillors choosing to abstain.
Current Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile chose not to attend the Remembrance Sunday event last November.
2 December 2011
THE Secretary of State says he will ask the Republic of Ireland government to open its archives to satisfy unionist concerns about Dublin’s historic relationship with the Provisional IRA.
Owen Paterson made the commitment yesterday at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster in response to requests by Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson.
The news comes after a major review of allegations of Dublin-PIRA collusion in the News Letter last week. It highlighted unionist anger at what is perceived as an ongoing revision of history to portray them as the main villains of the Troubles.
In the reports, University of Ulster Professor of Politics Henry Patterson called on Dublin to open its archives for the Arms Trial of 1970 in which Dublin ministers were accused of buying arms for the IRA.
Yesterday Mr Paterson said he would raise the issue of collusion with Dublin, adding: “Obviously there will be some key material in the Republic of Ireland.”
David Simpson said the matter was key to “healing” for Northern Ireland.
However, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell strongly denied that Dublin had trained the IRA.
Mr Simpson opened the discussion on the topic of “successive Irish governments’ alleged failure to prevent terrorism along the border” and pressed Mr Paterson to ask the Irish government to make information on such historical matters available to unionists.
Secretary of State Mr Paterson said: “I think it is perfectly public knowledge that I am very interested in opening up archives and establishing opportunities for oral testimony and getting an oral archive. If there is to be a full history [of the Troubles] I think obviously we will have to discuss this with the Republic of Ireland to see how they would be making information available.”
Mr Simpson noted that the UK Prime Minister had previously come to the dispatch box and apologised for British state involvement in killing Catholics in Northern Ireland.
“Murder is murder and it is wrong but we have never had an opportunity where the Republic of Ireland has apologised for any wrongdoing or failure to prevent [terrorism],” he said.
After committing murders in Northern Ireland, the IRA often used the Republic of Ireland “as a safe haven, and used it to train the IRA”, he said.
The opening of state archives by Dublin “would go a long way if we are talking about healing in Northern Ireland and moving forward in Northern Ireland”.
He has been in touch with the Irish foreign minister on these issues and hopes to meet him soon, but he asked Mr Paterson to write in support of this meeting.
Mr Paterson said there was some interest among local parties and victims’ groups in just such a project but consensus on a way forward from local parties was key.
“If I am going to go down the archive route and the historian route obviously there will be some key material in the Republic of Ireland,” he said.
“Historians will want to have access so that will be something I will need to talk to the Republic of Ireland about.”
SDLP leader Mr McDonnell responded that “the Irish government did not train the Provisional IRA nor were they responsible for them and the record has to be corrected on that. Beyond that I welcome opening discussions on the past and any access that can be given.”