'Will You Taste Some Irishness?' II (2003)

Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 10:50 am
Oh. Tommy. How amazing, a mystery. That makes me want to know what happened to those stones ... and did someone write down the missing verses?? How utterly romantic! How Irish! I examined, at some length, a map showing Kanturk. It is near a place that I wanted to go, since I was told it was like my own hometown on Puget Sound, with fishing boats and all, except if it were hundreds of years older!

I found one place to stay nearby, but it seemed expensive for a B&B, 85-100 Irish pounds per night, each person. <gulp> Sounds like London prices! I think (I hope) it was particularly costly and not like most of Ireland. I would probably want to stay at a National Trust site, anyway.

Jjorge -- Nice, nice poem by Austin Clarke (My mother was of that name--but the Scottish branch, which are Camerons). The daughter of a tree planter sounds like an excellent occupation, doesn't it? ... though I've seen fir plantations in Wales that are horrible, being planted in tight rows. I'm imagining here an oak plantation and a beautiful girl with dark hair. I love that "she was the Sunday in every week."
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 01:33 pm
Piffka. No way is B & B that much. I often travel around the west and B & Bs will cost you at the outside 40 to 50 Euro and that is expensive. I think there must be a misprint. Look up the town/city you are going to visit. Most have a Website. Certainly Kanturk has. Check it out on Google if you have time.

Good Luck
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Reply Fri 21 Feb, 2003 02:17 pm
I did. I did... It was the only place listed for Kanturk, this is what I found:


It is a lovely place. I'm sure the less expensive ones just aren't advertising. But, no worries, I don't plan to come to Ireland until.... well, maybe next fall, if I'm lucky! We may not even get reservations but just follow our noses. That's fun.
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Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 01:02 am

That price is Euros, rather than pounds, but is still far too expensive - that's a per person price! Unless you have more money than you need, that is just ridiculous! Some castle stays are less than that! It's only a B7B, f'gudnessake!

Ireland is small enough that, even if that was absolutely the only accommodation in town, (and I'd guess it isn't), something in the next village will only be a few minutes away!
Compare with this one:

Not as flash - but much cheaper!

Just want you to be able to go sooner, rather than later! Smile

If you travel in the off season, e.g. gfall, you won't need reservations, except for Dublin, and perhaps your last night - if you need an early start. I've travelled in May and October without reservations and without problems, except for Dublin!

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Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 10:25 am
Thanks, Margo. Euros, eh? A slightly better rate! The B&B you found is more in keeping with what I would expect -- I think the other must be very very fancy. Nice to have a little of that, but I'm generally a cheap traveler and we always travel in the off-season... I don't like crowds. I do hope we get to see Ireland this time around!

Jjorge -- I am disappointed! Where is our next taste of Irishness? (I am a little worried that you knew people who were in that awful fire. Please accept my sympathies for that terrible tragedy. It was so sad to read about.)
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Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 12:24 pm
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Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 01:33 pm
Hi Piffka. I've said it before on another thread and I'll say again, if you landed in Ireland without a penny, you'd never be more than 3 miles from a bite and somewhere to kip. But it'll not go that far. Fair do's - I live in Ireland, but when my wife and I go for a break, we never book, no matter what time of the year. We just travel and when we decide to stop, we do. There are nearly as many B & B signs in Ireland as there are trees and you don't have to be on a main thoroughfare. And some of the best don't have 4* or 5* recommendations - so long as they have the Tourist Board (Bord Failte) sign that is good enough. There is a place in Kanturk run by a Mrs Grace (her brother is the local Undertaker - but there is no connection!!) and wait till I tell you, her breakfasts are exceptional, she's very motherly and great crack. By the way I am not employed by the Kanturk Community Tourist Board!!! But the West of Ireland for some reason is more hospitable (if that were possible) than the east - We always spend at least two long week-ends during the summer in the West.
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Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 02:41 pm
Jjorge! I am flying out the door but wanted to say how relieved I am that your daughter was not involved. Only four miles from you ?!? My God, so unbelievably close and so tragic and sad to think that many are not only dead, but unidentified. I heard that 1/3 of the audience died and most of the rest had injuries. It is too awful to contemplate the effect on the community. Is there anything to be done but wring our hands? Probably not.

Again, my condolences to you and your state. People everywhere are struck again with grief for folks they do not know.

Tommy -- You are my kind of guy! I like to make a few plans and leave the rest to Serendipity. It makes things so interesting! Ireland sounds wonderful. Jjorge was thinking of traveling there, did you know. And wouldn't that be a wonderful a2k get-together!
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Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 02:54 pm
The Faeries
Often people accept Faeries - and why not ? - at face value but no-one has ever asked where they come from. Well there are several schools of thought on the origin of faeries.

I believe that they were a conquered society; they were the Tuatha De Danaan; who were driven into hiding when the Celts invaded Ireland. The Pagan Gods who were skilled in magic went under the ground to live in the tunnels and spaces that they had built. Hidden from the sight of the Celts they grew smaller and faded from the Mind and imagination of man and turned into spirits.

Other cultures believe that they are the souls of the Dead who, because of the sins they committed in life, they are destined to spend millions of years in Purgatory or Limbo until the end of the World.

Their Abode is called the Middle Kingdom (i.e., between Heaven and Earth) and here is a poem of that Kingdom, a Place where souls suffer for a time after death on account of their sins. Here is their story.


We who are old yet fair of face,
Thousands of years this world did grace,
Beneath the Earth away from men,
Our Middle Kingdom it lies hid - den.

With sword in hand and our shields by our sides,
We march in Hordes, we will never subside.
Our De Danaan form has passed with time,
But we still love music and we still love wine.

We are of the Forest, we are of the Earth,
Our heads full of knowledge - our ways full of mirth.
We know all the answers to questions unasked,
We live in the Light with no fear of the dark.

It must be said we have dark evil breeds,
Who plague mankind with their mischievous deeds,
The Phooka, The Merrow, The Wailing Bean-shee,
Are hideous creatures, as dark as can be.

Avoid the lone thorn tree that grows in the field*
Don't cut it down with the axe that you wield.
It courses magic from branch to root
And woe to he who eats it fruit.

Of itself the tree did grow,
Fromn faerie magic cast long ago,
Therefore we bid you to let it stand*,
Ill-fortune to those who ignore our command.

SCREAMING: "We are old, we are revered,
Born of the Earth, immortal and feared".
In the dead of night see us dance on the hills,
On fiddles and flutes we play jigs and reels.

The sky is ablaze with a myriad of light,
Our Faerie Music is heard through the night.

We who are old, yet fair of face,
Thousands of years, this world did grace,
But modern man and his cynical ways,
Are bringing us to the end of our days.

*It is a fact that travelling through the Irish countryside you will notice hawthorn trees in the middle of fallow, ploughed or grassed field. They'll never be cut down.
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 11:08 am
Thanks for your comments re touring in Ireland. I hope to go there in late Sept. or early October for about ten days and every scrap of information will be helpful in the planning process.

Thanks for the information on Kanturk, B&B's etc. I'm grateful for any info. or opinions you may have re touring in Ireland. Thanks also for the fascinating post and poem on the Tuatha De Danaan.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could all meet in Ireland in the Fall!

Todays poem is by Pearse Hutchinson. Hope you all enjoy it:

'Gaeltacht' (1)

Bartley Costello, eighty years old,
sat in his silver-grey tweeds on a kitchen chair,
at his door in Carraroe, the sea only yards away,
smoking a pipe, with a pint of porter beside his boot:
'For the past twenty years I've eaten nothing only
periwinkles, my own hands got them off those rocks.
You're a quarter my age, if you'd stick to them winkles
you'd live as long as me, and keep as spry.'
In the Liverpool Bar, at the North Wall,
on his way to join his children over there,
an old man looked at me, then down at his pint
of rich Dublin stout. He pointed at the black glass:
'Is lú í an Ghaeilge ná an t-uisce sa ngloine sin.' (2)

Beartla Confhaola, prime of his manhood,
driving between the redweed and the rock-fields,
driving through the sunny treeless quartz glory of Carna,
answered the foreigner's glib pity, pointing at the
small black cows: 'You won't get finer anywhere
than those black porry cattle.' In a pub near there,
one of the locals finally spoke to the townie:
'Labhraim le stráinséirí. Creidim gur chóir bheith
ag labhairt le stráinséirí.'(3) Proud as a man who'd claim:
'I made an orchard of a rock-field,
bougainvillea clamber my turf-ricks.'

A Dublin tourist on a red-quarter strand
hunting firewood found the ruins of a boat,
started breaking the struts out-- an old man came,
he shook his head, and said:
'Aa, a mhac: ná bí ag briseadh báid.' (4)

The low walls of rock-fields in the west
are a beautiful clean white. There are chinks between
the neat white stones to let the wind through safe,
you can see the blue sun through them.
the walls grow higher, get grey:
an ugly grey. And the chinks disappear:
through those walls you can see nothing.

Then at last you come to the city,
beautiful with salmon basking becalmed black below
a bridge over the pale-green Corrib; and ugly
with many shopkeepers looking down on men like
Bartley Costello and Beartla Confhaola because they
speak in Irish, eat periwinkles, keep
small black porry cattle, and on us
because we are strangers.
(Pearse Hutchinson)

(1) An Irish-speaking area.

(2) "The Irish is less than the water in that glass."

(3) "I speak with strangers. I believe it's right to be speaking with strangers."

(4) "Ah, son: don't be breaking a boat."

For more on Pearse Hutchinson go to:


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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 01:13 pm
jjorge and all,

How captivating these contributions are from Irish lore and more.

It seems to me that Arthur Conan Doyle once investigated the claim of a couple that they had fairies on their property. Can anyone recall this history mystery?

I'm certain most of you here are familiar with "The Second Coming" by Yeats, but try as I might, I couldn't cut and paste it, sooooooooooo....

I simply know that it gives me chills every time I read it.

Good to see that Tommy is here once again.
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 01:21 pm
and here is a link that all of you who believe in fairies will appreciate. Razz

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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 06:47 pm
Hi Letty

Glad you're enjoying the thread, and thanks for the fairie link!
here's another little 'taste':


I built my house the wrong way round
with the outside in and the inside out.
I have been under the weather ever since,
hoping the world will make inverted sense.

The home of my dreams no longer seems likely
now the process of decay has started so quickly.
The carpet and curtains, though still quite new,
are perpetually soggy with berries and dew.

The bath and toilet can be seen from the gate,
in the upstairs bedrooms sparrows mate,
a chair from the lounge lies toppled on the lawn,
the floral wallpaper peels in the sun.

The formica is warped on the kitchen press
where a family of swallows has made its nest.
The windows are moulding, their frames are rotten,
the calendar is torn, the radio broken.

I built my house the wrong way round
and now the world seems inside out.
I convince myself that everything's clearer
when the heat goes in and the days cloud over.

Then I shelter from sudden squalls
in the room at the centre with pebble-dashed walls
and a ceiling of slates turned in from the sky
to a darkened space where no birds fly.
(Conor O'Callaghan)

For a brief biographical sketch of Conor O'Callaghan go to:
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 07:12 pm
Jjorge -- It would be fantastic to meet in Ireland, but alas I have no clue if we are really going to go and if so, when. It does appear that if we go, we'd be going in early to mid September.... I will surely keep you informed JUST IN CASE!!!

I adore the idea of fairies and have since I was very young. As a child I read (I devoured!) an old book my grandma had, Flower Fairy Fables by Louisa May Alcott. Wonderful... and I was so sure that if I could just look out the corner of my eyes, I'd be able to spot a fairy. Some day, however, I MAY tell you about the very odd old woman that we met in Scotland, hitchhiking late on an evening. I'm sure she was fey!

I have enjoyed the last poems a lot! The fairies, of course, but also the poem of Irish Talk. These difficulties of the Irish-speaking people... the prejudices seem so silly. I would love to be able to read/speak/understand Gaelic.

Here Letty... hope you don't mind if I cut and paste it for you. I think your excellent choice of poem deserves to be on this topic!

The Second Coming
first published 1922
William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
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Reply Mon 24 Feb, 2003 08:31 am
For today here are two poems with a darker side of rural life:

'A Small Farm'

All the perversions of the soul
I learnt on a small farm.
How to do the neighbors harm
by magic, how to hate.
I was abandoned to their tragedies,
minor but unhealing:
bitterness over boggy land,
casual stealing of crops,
venomous cardgames
across swearing tables,
a little music on the road,
a little peace in decrepit stables.
Here were rosarybeads,
a bleeding face,
the glinting doors
that did encase
their cutler needs,
their plates, their knives,
the cracked calendars
of their lives.
I was abandoned to their tragedies
and began to count the birds,
to deduce secrets in the kitchen cold
and to avoid among my nameless weeds
the civil war of that household.
(Michael Hartnett)

For more on Michael Hartnett go to:



I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided, who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffeys shouting "Damn your soul"
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel --
"Here is the march along these iron stones".
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Till Homer's ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.
(Patrick Kavanagh)

For more on Patrick Kavanagh go to:
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Reply Mon 24 Feb, 2003 03:26 pm
Belfast and the Linen Industry
You'll probably find this amusing (well I did Anyway!) But the life of a Doffer was anything but amusing. Children aged 7 and above were employed in the Industry and changed bobbins. A dangerous and unhealthy employment - never mind the age of the employee. But the doffers in this street song from Belfast were adults. Here goes.

"You Might easy know a Doffer
When she some into town
With her long yelllow hair
And her Pickers hanging down
With her rubber tied before her
and her scraper in her hand
You will easy know a Doffer
For she'll always get a man.

You might easy know a weaver
When she somes into town
with her oul' greasy hair
An' her scissors hanging down
With a shawl aroun; her shoulders
An' a shuttle in her hand
You will easy know a weaver
For she'll never get a man".

There was a class rivalry between various elements of the weaving trade.
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Reply Mon 24 Feb, 2003 11:35 pm

In the 19th century the mills in the U.S. employed young children too. They often worked 12 or more hours a day.
Because some of them got drowsy and dozed off at their machines some of the mills employed 'slappers' whose job it was to go up and down, back and forth slapping the sleepy children!

Eventually the child welfare movement and child labor laws put an end to those terrible practices.....in the West at least.
Exploitation and cruelty of this sort towards children apparently persists however in some third world countries.
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Reply Tue 25 Feb, 2003 01:13 am
Of course, their parents were called Luddites.
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Reply Tue 25 Feb, 2003 08:59 am
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Reply Tue 25 Feb, 2003 11:00 am
Good Morning Irish poetry fans. Here is a little 'taste' for today:

'Father and Son'

Only last week, walking the hushed fields
Of our most lovely Meath, now thinned by November,
I came to where the road from Laracor leads
To the Boyne river--that seems more lake than river,
Stretched in uneasy light and stript of reeds.
And walking longside an old weir
Of my people's, where nothing stirs--only the shadowed
Leaden flight of a heron up the lean air--
I went unmanly with grief, knowing how my father,
Happy though captive in years, walked last with me there.

Yes, happy in Meath with me for a day
He walked, taking stock of herds hid in their own breathing;
And naming colts, gusty as wind, once steered by his hand,
Lightnings winked in the eyes that were half shy in greeting
Old friends--the wild blades, when he gallivanted the land.

For that proud, wayward man now my heart breaks--
Breaks for that man whose mind was a secret eyrie,
Whose kind hand was sole signet of his race,
Who curbed me, scorned my green ways, yet increasingly loved me
Till Death drew its grey blind down his face.

And yet I am pleased that even my reckless ways
Are living shades of his rich calms and passions--
Witnesses for him and for those faint namesakes
With whom now he is one, under yew branches,
Yes, one in a graven silence no bird breaks.
(F R Higgins)

For more on F.R.Higgins go to:
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