Irish beekeeper's Covid Lego Beehive is fully functional, and houses 30,000 bees

Ruairi O Leocháin of Athlone Wildlife Apiaries decided to make a lego beehive "just for a bit of craic"

A beekeeper in Ireland put their coronavirus quarantine time to good use by crafting an elaborate, fully functioning beehive out of LEGOs. Read the rest

The Cork City Dump is a haunted graveyard of your childhood

Irish radio DJ Elaine Howley posted this on Twitter the other day:

Which lead me to discover that, yes, this stuffed animal display like a terrifying hybrid of Toy Story and It is, in fact, a thing. As The Irish Times reported in September 2019:

As char­i­ties stopped ac­cept­ing toys they ar­rived in droves to the dump. But in­stead of dis­card­ing the on­celoved ted­dies, work­ers have placed them art­fully — and hu­mor­ously — around the en­trance to Cork’s Civic Amenity Site just off the South City Link Road.

[…]

"We used to do­nate the toys to char­i­ties, but health and safety reg­u­la­tions stopped that," [said site man­ager Derek Cam­bridge.]

"Ted­dies come in daily. Some ar­rive brand new. We thought chil­dren would take them so we left them out by the en­trance. But they didn’t, so we put them up here in­stead.

"It seemed a shame to just dump them."

I quite like Cork. Last time I was there, I enjoyed some great craft beer as I laughed at all the graffiti boasting that, "Cork is daycent." But a stuffed animal trash pile might be an even more beautiful metaphor for that fine city. Read the rest

Irish repay a 170-year-old favor to Native Americans affected by COVID-19

My Irish ancestors all came to America between 1847 and 1849 — during the time of An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, when the British Empire hoarded all the food they were producing on colonized Irish land and left the native people with nothing but diseased potatoes to survive. This plight resonated with the Choctaw Nation, who lived in and around modern-day Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and of course had had their own experiences with a systematic genocide at the hands of a land-greedy colonizing force just a decade earlier. So the Choctaw rallied their resources, and sent $170 over the Atlantic to the starving people in Ireland — the equivalent of either $5,000 or $20,000 dollars today, depending on your calculations.

To commemorate this generous act, a statue was erected in Midleton, County Cork in 2017.

But solidarity is even better than a statue. Which is why, as Native Americans have disproportionately suffered from the impacts of COVID-19, Irish people rallied to the cause, raising more than a million dollars for the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund on GoFundMe in just a few days. The effort was largely spearheaded — or at least publicized — by Irish journalist Naomi O'Leary, who also spoke about the historical relationship and the legacy of colonialism on the Irish Passport podcast:

Read the rest

Sheep farmer in Dublin gives himself haircut in COVID-19 lockdown the Irish way

“Lighten the load.” Read the rest

Elf-shooting is a disease from which cows suffer.

From a 1938 school book transcribed by the Dúchas Project, the digital archives of the National Folklore Project at UC Dublin:

Elf-shooting is a disease from which cows suffer. They are supposed to have been hit by a piece of flint thrown by a fairy.

The cow lies down moaning. Her eyes get swollen and water runs from her mouth.

A person who has the cure for "Elf shooting" is sent for. He proceeds to make the cure. He first measure her from the tail to between the horns using his arm from the elbow to tips of his fingers as a measure. He then cuts the tops of her horns and pieces from her cleats. He takes a sod from the roof of the byre, he lights it and when burning well it is passed three times round the cow's body. Then the pieces of horns and cleats with some hair from the cow are burned under her head the smoke going round her head. Soon she begins to get lively and in a short time is able to take a drink. Then she is all-right.

Seems legitimate. Gotta watch out for those flying faery flints.

Elf-Shooting [Urbal Scoil / Dúchas Project]

Image: Public Domain via Pexels Read the rest

Webcam proof: Irish pubs in Dublin shuttered up, streets are empty, on St. Patrick's Day 

Sláinte! I took this EarthCam screengrab of Irish pubs in Dublin just before 11 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day! What's wrong with this picture?

See more empty streets from around the world over at Reddit. Read the rest

Coronavirus in Ireland: Leo Varadkar’s St Patrick’s Day broadcast (video, full text)

• Taoiseach addresses Ireland on St Patrick's Day to warn of coming hardship • Today: 354 cases confirmed in Ireland • Predicted: 15,000 Covid-19 cases in Ireland within 2 weeks

On what he called “A St. Patrick’s Day like no other,” Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned the nation that the expanding “crisis will last months and cause enormous economic damage.”

From Ireland's RTÉ News:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the coronavirus emergency is likely to go on well beyond 29 March and could go on for months into the summer. In a special Ministerial Briefing broadcast, he said that "this is the calm before the storm and the surge will come".

His address comes after 69 new cases were confirmed in the Republic, bringing the overall number to 292.

A further ten cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total there to 62. Overall there are 354 cases on the island of Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said it is believed that there could be 15,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in this country by the end of the month.

Here are the Irish leader's remarks in full, and video. Read the rest

A free short story about Irish history to read while you're quarantined over St. Patrick's Day

I wrote An Baile na mBan: a story of mothers, monsters, and war a few years ago for an anthology called Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. Originally published by Crossed Genres Publishing, the anthology focused on sci-fi/fantasy stories of adolescent protagonists from historically marginalized communities from before the 1920s. This story was loosely inspired by the tragic discovery of a mass grave at an Irish nunnery for single mothers, and thus involves pretty much all of the horrible things that might relate to that:

Set during the Irish War of Independence, An Baile na mBan tells the story of 16-year-old Caoimhe, a Traveller girl who has been paying off her debts to the Catholic Church by working at the nunnery that took her in while she was with child—and by stealing their supplies and selling them on streets. When one of her black market customers takes an interest in Aisling, the young Protestant girl who recently arrived at the home, he offers Caoimhe a chance to reunite with her daughter in exchange for a favor. But the club-footed man isn't all that he seems, and neither are his plans for Aisling's child. Or his stake in the war that rages through the land.

In case you aren't familiar with Travellers, they're a distinct ethnic group in Ireland, with their own language and culture that goes back hundreds of years. Unfortunately, they still deal with a lot of discrimination today, because the ladder of oppression is always ugly and complicated. Read the rest

Irish people have a very strange understanding of "pizza"

I've been a fan of Blindboy Boatclub since I first discovered "Horse Outside," his hit(?) song with the Rubberbandits (and later, by complete happenstance, ended up staying at the same hotel that's featured in the video). His podcast consistently delivers a random, rambling ménage à trois of weird knowledge, cultural connections, empathy, and utter hilarity, and his delightful short story collections take the traditions of Samuel Beckett and Flann O'Brien and thrust them erotically into the social media sphere.

Or, if you want a perfect microcosmic metaphor for his career, there's this Twitter thread, where Blindboy talks about his  misconceptions of pizza while growing up in Limerick, which goes from silly childhood observation to profoundly resonant insight about cross-cultural communications in a post-colonial edge. And Ninja Turtles.

Blindboy was not alone in this strange experience, as the replies swiftly reveal:

Read the rest

Examining the generational loss of ancient Halloween traditions

Halloween, like many modern American holidays, is a kind of mashup of different cultural traditional traditions rooted in the autumnal harvest, and some kind of celebration or connection with the spirit world. You see it in Mexico with Dia de los Muertos; and in pre-Christian Ireland, it was Oíche Shamhna ("Shamna" being the genitive form of "Samhain," which is pronounced kind of like "SOW-un," and actually just means "November").

An episode of The Irish Passport podcast takes a close look at the roots of those Gaelic traditions, and the kind of generation loss that happened when it was exported to the United States, and then re-imported back to Ireland. The result is kind of fun-house-mirror reflection of itself—modern Irish imitating a mutated American imitation of older Irish traditions. You'll also get to learn a bit about how the faeryfolk in Ireland, the Aos Sídhe, still play an active role in modern real estate development in the Republic (yes really).

Just below the surface of modern Ireland, a parallel world exists with its roots in pre-Christian belief. Irish fairies aren’t like Tinkerbell—they’re more like a supernatural mafia. So be careful what you say, because as the story goes, they’re probably listening. Tim talks to one of Ireland’s last seanchaí or story-teller historians, who once managed to get a highway diverted to prevent the felling of a fairy bush. We also hear about modern traditions from the streets of Galway as the Celtic New Year Samhain festival is underway.

You can download the mp3, or find the episode on iTunes/Stitcher/Google Play/Spotify/etc. Read the rest

The colonialism behind fantasy's vaguely Irish Elves

Motherfoclóir is a delightful podcast about language and linguistics as they relate to Ireland ("foclóir" being the Irish word for "dictionary," and thus completely unrelated to that homophonic English-language word you're surely thinking of, c'mon). While that might seem like a niche topic outside of the Emerald Isle herself, a recent episode tackled something that's surely on everyone's mind: those fantastical pointy-eared aristocrats known only as elves.

Specifically, it's a conversation with Irish writer Orla Ní Dhúill, whose blog about elves, Irishness, and colonialism gained a lot of traction among fantasy fans across the globe.

Growing up as a nerdy Irish-American kid, I always understood there to be something vaguely Gael-ish about elves. Even though I didn't know why. Even though I knew it didn't make sense. Even though I knew that Tolkien himself was not particularly fond of the Irish (the language, at least, if not the people). Was it because they used an cló gaelach, the insular font so often associated with Irish Gaelic? Even in my later adolescence, as I wasted my measly weekend job wages on Warhammer 40K, I couldn't help but notice the inherent Irishness in the names and terms of the mystical Eldar alien race who are basically space elves anyway (spoiler: it turns out the Eldar language is, in fact, mostly just bastardized lines from Irish Gaelic proverbs).

The podcast episode is full of insightful exchanges on language and colonialism between Ní Dhúill and host Peader Kavanagh. You can listen below, or on your preferred podcasting platform. Read the rest

Congrats to the winners of the 2019 Hugo! Kowal, Wells, Cho, Harrow, Chambers, AO3, Liu, Dozois, Wolfe, and more!

The 2019 World Science Fiction Convention is being held in Dublin, and tonight, the con presented the annual Hugo Awards, voted on by the attendees and supporters of this year's con. Read the rest

The traditional music of the world would die without risk-takers like Martin Hayes

Damn near every region in the world has a well of traditional music that they're able to draw cultural water from. Some musical traditions are better known than others. Most folks have likely heard Tuvan throat singing, but aren't able to put a name to it. I can't count the number of subway stations, markets and streets that I've walked through where buskers were filling the air with Sanjuanito. Where such tunes are played and songs are sung, a snippet of cultural history is passed along. Sadly, in a world that all too often favors the new over what has brought joy in the past, the music that once defined a people, even when played often and well, can easily pass into irrelevance. While it's important to maintain the sound of traditional music as a part of our shared cultural history, it's just as vital to find new ways to interpret the melodies of the past in a way that lends it an immediacy to modern listeners. Martin Hayes, one of the finest fiddlers to have come out of Ireland in the past 100 years, seems to understand this.

I've talked about Hayes' work here in the past: his moody style of playing is just as much the result of his upbringing in County Clare at the feet of his father, famed fiddler P.J. Hayes, as it is his own genius. In 2015, Hayes's band, The Gloaming, won the Meteor Choice Music Prize for Album of the Year, beating the tar out acts like U2, Hozier and Damien Rice in the process. Read the rest

Stefan Murphy's Dry Cider rings on about the sort of days I hope I had

I have a hard time remembering my younger years, but I want to believe that I had days like the one that Stefan Murphy (AKA The Mighty Stef and, from time to time, Count Vaseline) describes in Dry Cider. If you dig this song as much as I do, help a fella out by giving it a buy over at Bandcamp. Read the rest

Airbnb guest uses network sniffer to find hidden webcam, Airbnb finds no wrongdoing

Airbnb has a hidden camera problem: Airbnb hosts keep getting caught using hidden webcams to spy on people staying in their unlicensed hotel-rooms, and while the company proclaims a zero tolerance policy for the practice, the reality is that the company tacitly tolerates Airbnb hosts who engage in this creepy, voyeuristic behavior. Read the rest

2019 Hugo Award finalists announced

The 2019 Hugo Award nominees have been announced; the Hugos will be presented this summer at the 2019 World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland. Read the rest

'Heartbreak' is a towering work of art

Heartbreak, written and performed by poet and playwright Emmet Kirwan, is a spoken word masterpiece. Full of passion, rage and love, heartbreak tells the story of a young Irish woman, raised in an oppressive patriarchy and poverty, who scrambles to survive before finally coming to thrive. Read the rest

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