Gone to Amerikay: masterful, heart-tugging Irish immigrant graphic novel

Gone to Amerikay is a masterfully told tear-jerker of a graphic novel that tells the stories of multiple generations of Irish immigrants to New York, skilfully braided together. There's a storyline from 1870, the tale of Ciara O'Dwyer and her baby daughter who arrive in the Five Points slum ahead of Ciara's husband, who is meant to catch the next boat, but does not arrive. There's a storyline from 1960, in which a merchant seaman named Johnny McCormack jumps ship to become an actor, but instead ends up in folk-music-saturated Greenwich Village, discovering turbulent truths about his calling and his sexuality. Finally, there's a 2010 timeline in which a stratospherically wealthy Celtic Tiger CEO named Lewis Healy touches down in New York in his private jet so that his lover can give him a gift for the man who has everything: the secret history of a song that changed his life when he heard it as a child.

Writer Derek McColloch and illustrators Colleen Doran and Jose Villarrubia make this three-way narrative sing (literally, at times) by exploiting the unique visual storytelling capabilities of comics in ways rarely seen. Their masterful treatment boosts an already fine -- if sleight and sentimental -- tale into a higher orbit, giving it a velocity and a mass that makes the book both unstoppable and heart-tugging.

This is a sensitive treatment of race and class, sexuality and art, betrayal and gender, and above all, the immigrant experience in America. Like a great folk song, it is at once simple and complex, a paradoxical confection that could only have been rendered in graphic form.

Gone to Amerikay

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Shredding company's awesome logo


Snapped yesterday near my flat in east London, this Irish shredding company's logo on the back of their truck. Talk about "does what it says on the tin!"

Awesome logo on hard-drive-shredding service's lorry, Brunswick Place, Hackney, London, UK

Irish SOPA signed into law

The "Irish SOPA" law, which makes provision for arbitrary, ISP-level national censorship without court orders, has been signed -- despite the law's unpopularity and the widespread protests against it.

The Irish Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, is insisting that the final version of the bill is much more limited than earlier proposals, and that it took guidance from recent EU Court of Justice rulings that say ISPs shouldn't have to be proactive about blocking. That still means that copyright holders can petition to force ISPs to block all access to various websites, and as we've seen in other countries in Europe, you can bet that the major record labels and studios will be doing just that very soon (if they haven't already) -- though their track record on properly calling out infringement isn't very good.

Ireland Signs Controversial 'Irish SOPA' Into Law; Kicks Off New Censorship Regime

Irish journalist humiliates EuroBank technocrat who won't stop ducking hard questions

In this video from a European Central Bank press-conference in Ireland, journalist Vincent Browne demands that the ECB representative explain why the ECB required the Irish people to bail out a bank's uninsured creditors. The bureaucrat mouths bland reassurances, then asserts (despite all appearances to the contrary) that the question has been resolved. Browne doesn't let up. It's quite a stirring spectacle.

Vincent Browne v The ECB (Thanks, Lord Humongous!)

Letter to Santa from 1911, found in a Dublin chimney


This letter to Santa was written in 1911, and stashed in the chimney of a house in Dublin, from which it was recovered in 1992 by the house's current occupant, John Byrne. The letter, written by "A or H Howard" (a brother-sister team) survived remarkably well, and is very lovely.

“I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee.”

Dear Santa Letter sent 100 years ago found up chimney

(Photo: Eric Luke)