Monday, 28 October 2013

Belfast Girl's Face Planted into Land in the Name of Art

From the ground, it looks like any other ploughed field, boggy in parts from recent rain.  But viewed from the air and you can truly appreciate this masterpiece titled "Wish".  It shows the face of an anonymous six year old Belfast girl, supposedly, "making a wish for the future ".  Although how you can tell by looking into the face of this starlet I'm unsure.  I was always under the assumption that you had to close your eyes to make a wish :D
Joking aside, it is an impressive piece of artwork by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada.  Made up from 2,000 metric tons of sand, 2,000 metric tons of soil & approximately 30,000 wooden pegs, it stretches out across 11 acres of vacant land right next to the Titanic Belfast Museum in the Titanic Quarter of the city.
"WISH" by artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada
Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Northern Ireland

"Wish" land art viewed from above
[Photo Credit Business Insider]
Land Art - "Wish"
[Photo Credit: Business Insider]
Belfast does not have an abundance of structures high enough from which to see this artwork but those that are available provide only an oblique view. One of those viewing platforms would surely be from atop the gigantic yellow Harland & Wolff cranes which can be seen from just about everywhere you go in Belfast City.   However, visitors flying in and out of George Best Belfast City Airport can also get a free bird’s eye view of the artwork, clear skies permitting.

Land Art by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada with Harland & Wolff Crane in the background
[Photo Credit: ArrestedMotion] 
"Wish" was commissioned for the The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival which runs each year during October, but will be hopefully remain in place (weather permitting) until December 2013.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Seamus Heaney 1939 - 2013

Photo credit:
Ireland & the world are mourning the loss of a literary giant.  Seamus Heaney, acclaimed by many as the best Irish poet since Yeats, has died aged 74.

Born on a farm in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland in 1939, he was the eldest of nine children in a Catholic family.  He embarked on a teaching career which lead him to Queen's University in Belfast as well as Harvard & Oxford.  He became most notable however, as a distinguished Poet, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.

I'm almost ashamed to say that I was only introduced to Seamus Heaney less than 3 months ago.  During my schooling in New Zealand, I remember the likes of W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Patrick Kavanagh, Jonathan Swift, & many others, but there was no Seamus Heaney.  Understandable perhaps, given he was in the early years of publishing his poetry at the time.   I quell my quilt with the belief that it is better to be introduced to him late than not at all & have Hibernia College, Dublin to thank for familiarizing me with this Literary giant during their recent 8 week Exploring Irish Identity MOOC.  

I don't feel I know this brilliant man well enough to carry on here & instead will leave  it to another to explain the influence this respected & much loved Irish poet has had on them. 
Born in Northern Ireland, Yvonne Watterson identifies strongly with Heaney's Poems & her moving & thoughtful tribute is well worth reading.  It can be found on her 'Considering the Lillies' blog & is titled Back to Anahorish ~ Heaney’s "first hill in the world" 

Finally, you can listen to Seamus Heaney deliver his 1995 Nobel lecture Crediting Poetry or read the lecture notes which accompany the audio. 

His poems have certainly resonated with me & there's no doubt, his 'voice' will leave you feeling nourished.  May he Rest in Peace.


Mid-Term Break


Blackberry Picking

Death of a Naturalist

St Kevin & the Blackbird

When All The Others Were Away At Mass



The Road Derry

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A Eulogy to the Irish Pub

Here's a wee taster of a documentary film, titled 'The Irish Pub" which will begin screening in early October.

Presented by Atom Films in association with Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB), this 80 min Feature film is Directed & Produced by Alex Fegan.

In their own words, it is a "eulogy" to that well-know institution - the 'Irish Pub" and the "characters that own them". 

We've all heard the clichés about the Irish Pubs but the truth of the matter is that authentic pubs in Ireland are much more than just a drinking place - it's where families celebrate births, deaths, birthdays & christenings and where sports fans come to cheer on their teams.   They are still the centre of social life in many communities throughout Ireland - they are the 'living rooms' where people come together.  

The Irish Pub has experienced hard times in recent years post Celtic Tiger & many have closed their doors.  And despite some suggestions that Ireland's young are finding the old world charm of the Irish Pub wearing thin, as they increasing bypass the pubs & head straight for the clubs, they are still an important fabric of local communities & continue to hold a fascination with tourists from around the world looking to experience the 'Irishness' & theatre of a trad session, a poetry reading, the laments of a storyteller & to enjoy the 'craic'.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

As Gaeilge Music Video Goes Viral - Avicii vs Lurgan

In just 24 hours of being posted on You Tube, this beautifully produced music video went viral.  It features talented & not un-handsome musician Stiofán Ó Fearail [Stephen Farrell] & fellow group members of Seo Linn [a Cover Band who perform the majority of their songs As Gaeilge], with students & staff from Coláisete Lurgan singing As Gaeilge [Irish] Avicii's "Wake Me Up"
Whoever produced this has struck Gold.   There's no doubt this addictive video will raise the profile of the Irish Language & I suspect be useful for Tourism Ireland promotions too.

Coláisete Lurgan is an independent Irish Language Summer School, just outside of Galway in the Connemara Gaeltacht, West Ireland, where students can only enrol if they refrain from conversing in English for the duration of the course.   Total immersion in the language during the course is mandatory. 

And according to Lurgan, "learning & singing along  to the lyrics of popular songs is a very effective way of improving your Gaeilge".   After watching this video, it's not hard to see why.

Released 09 August 2013 

Irish Lyrics with English Translation

Fáinne fí i gcoim na hoíche.
Vicious circle in the middle of the night.
(Níl) 'tada riamh nach mbíonn thart.
There is nothing ever without an end.
Diabhail fhios a'm cá bhfuil deireadh mo scéil.
I have no clue where the end of my story lies.
Ach táim ar an mbealach ceart.
But I am on the right way.

Deir siad liom gan a dhul sa tseans.
They tell me not to take risks.
Nach dtagann ciall roimh aois.
That wisdom does not come to the young.
Bhuel 'sé m'aistear é, Ní léir cén fhad a mhairfidh sé.
Well 'it is my journey, who knows how long it’ll last.
'Sé togha ar aon chaoi.
It is brilliant anyway.


So Lig mé saor ón suan 'tá orm.
So free me from this slumber of mine.
(Tai)speáin dom bóthar éasca cothrom.
Show me the fair and easy road.
Bainfidh mé ceann scríbe amach. 'Sí m'aidhm,
I’ll reach my final destination. That’s my goal.
Cíbe treo átá i ndán.
Whichever way is meant for me.

 (Tá) mé ag iompar úalach mór an tsaoil.
I'm carrying a heavy burden of life.
Ach níl a'm ach péire lámh.
But I only have two hands.
Súile troma is an ghrian a' dul faoi.
My eyes are heavy as the sun is going down.
Ach ní chodlaíonn mé go sámh.
But I don’t sleep peacefully.

Bris amach agus tú fós sach óg.
Break out while you’re still young enough.
Chinnigh mé le dul in aghaidh.
 I’ve decided not to follow.
Seo mo ré. Seasfaidh mé an fód.
This is my time. I will stand my ground.
'S leanfaidh mé ar aghaidh.
And I will go ahead

Lyric Translation by Tuigim


"A country without a language is a country without a soul.” ― Pádraig Pearse
"Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam"

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Video of an Irish Holiday

I love promoting Ireland as you know & today I came across a really fantastic amateur video on Vimeo, taken by Canadian, Stephen Parker.  It is one of the best amateur tourist vids I've seen of Ireland & for me, was a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

It's 20 mins long & if you're Irish & living away from home or have been on a holiday to Ireland or are about to go, then sit back & take a look at this clever piece of holiday footage. 

Click here to view --> A Fortnight Plus Half - An Ireland Adventure - By Stephen Parker

I've watched it three times already & I only found it an hour ago!

Many of the locations featured in the video are places I visited last year on my 30 days Around Ireland.  Here below are my own photos of some of those places.



Thursday, 18 July 2013

iSLE Magazine - Have You Checked It Out Yet?

My favourite magazine out of Ireland has just posted its third Issue.   Have you checked it out yet?

Again Lisa McGee, Founder & Creative Director of iSLE Magazine, has excelled in bringing to us the vibrancy of Ireland, beautifully brought to life in this colourful, easy to read quarterly lifestyle magazine.
If you're a resident of Ireland & love getting out & about discovering new places to visit, trying out Irish made products & home-grown produce, then you'll love this magazine. 
For those of us who sadly, can only dream of Ireland from afar, but hope to one day get back there, then these magazines are full of wonderful tempting treats that await us on our next visit.
There's Blogger Reviews & Book Reviews, Recipes, interesting Feature stories & much, much more.
This magazine is a page turner & the only magazine I ever read from cover to cover.  So go make yourself a cuppa, sit yourself down & check it out for yourselves:

And if you missed the first two issues, then here they are :
NB: Cover photos displayed are the property of iSLE magazine  

Monday, 15 July 2013

There's So Much To Learn About Ireland

We're now into Week 7 of the 8 Week online course on 'Exploring Irish Identity' run by Hibernia College in Dublin & I can say without a doubt that it has been a fascinating journey. 

As I've mention in a previous blog, this course is FREE & remains online until the end of August. 

Each week we have had a different aspects to explore & discuss regarding their relationship to the formation of an Irish Identity.  The 8 Sessions in the course have included:





Each has had a fascinating influence on the changing notion of the Irish Identity. 

It is not too late to sign on to the course however.  My advice if you do want to do this 8 week course in the remaining 5 - 6 weeks that it is online, would be to concentrate on watching the Course video presentations, reading the feedback provided by the participants in your forum group [an aspect of the course, I have probably learnt the most from] & then save the suggested web links & videos provided for reading or viewing at a later date if you're unable to get it all accomplished in the remaining timeframe. 

For those who join now & have plenty of time on their hands, you will be able to complete this course in the remainder of the time it is available without any problem.

There is a short multi-choice quiz at the end of each session, with all the answers having been alluded to in the video presentations provided, as well, there are 4 'Tasks' for you to complete as, when & if you want.

You're level of commitment to the course is your choice, posting course tasks [mini assignments] is optional.  There are no demands for you to complete every aspect of the course however, even at a most basic level, you will not fail to learn far more about Ireland than you know already.  That has certainly been my experience anyway.

As of this week, there are a massive 3338 students from around the world, including Ireland, who have signed up to this course - they don't call it a MOOC [Massive Online Open Course] for nothing. 

So, if you are reading this and are tempted, go on, sign up now & give it a crack, you've got nothing to lose.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Blog Awards Ireland 2013

It's that time of year again folks!  Blog Awards Ireland 2013 is a forum for celebrating the best of Irish bloggers, those blogging from within & outside of Ireland & includes business & personal blogs. 

Please go check them out & then go to the Blog Awards Ireland 2013 website & nominate your favourite Blogger(s).

Image Credit:  Blog Awards Ireland 2013

Nominations for the Blog Awards Ireland are now open until 31st July and this year, bloggers from abroad (with Irish roots) can enter as well, which I guess, means me too :) 

So, if you want to nominate anyone [say, me for instance], here is what you do:

1.  Select Category best suited to the Blog you're nominating e.g. 
Best Blog From The Irish Diaspora 
[This category is open to any blogger who has Irish roots & lives overseas]

2.  Email of Blog nominated

3.  Name of your nominated Blog

4.  Web Address of Blog nominated

5.  From which County in Ireland does the Blogger hail from

You are then required to state why you are nominating this blog for this category.

There are so many great blogs out there from Ireland, about Ireland or promoting Ireland & I'm sure you'll have your favourites.  So please reward them with a nomination before the closing date 31 July 2013.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

National Identity - Is it still strong in Ireland?

Over the course of 8 weeks, I've embarked on a fascinating journey of discovery through the Hibernia College's MOOC on Exploring Irish Identity (explained in previous blog).

In the first week of the course, we were introduced to Irish History & its impact on Irish Identity.

It is true that key events in Irish History have help to shape Irish consciousness & naturally and nationally Irish people connect with these events in history.  These events have included but are not confined to the invasions & assimilation of Celtic, Viking, Norman & English people, the influences of Christianity introduced by St Patrick, the consequences of the plantation policy, the catastrophic events of the Great Famine, the impact of the Anglo-Irish Treaty & Ireland's long history of emigration.

Migration is a phenomenon of our time & has always been a strong feature of life for Ireland due to the huge numbers who have emigrated away from the country.  But with the ease in which today's technology & communication allows us to connect like never before, we are now able to be engaged in the country where we live but also stay closely connected to our home country. 

Image Credit:  Unknown origin source

When Ireland was an isolated rural island, cut-off to a large extent from the rest of the world and its influences, it was easy to maintain a sense of Irish-ness and Irish identity, that was rooted in its turbulent history. However, it has been suggested that today's Ireland is being influence by popular culture &  global trends. 
What is new for Ireland is that, it is becoming a more multicultural society.  The stereotypical notions of being Irish as one who is Catholic, plays hurling, listens to trad. music, melancholic and proud, drinks Guinness, speaks a bit of Irish, loves the craic and has red hair is becoming more dilute.  This is however, a one dimensional idea of Irish-ness & among the young Irish of today, may no longer be valid. National Identity it has been argued, is something much deeper than stereotypes and enforced notions of what it means to be Irish; it is a personal sense of belonging.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins speaking on the theme of Identities & transformation insists that  “Culture is fundamental to any considerations of Identity & that our notions of Identity should always be open to discovery, amplification, revision, adaptation and that it should never be monolithic, one dimensional or static”
It is fair to say that the more exposure we have to different ideas, people & situations, the more complex our definition of national identity will become.











Saturday, 4 May 2013

Exploring Irish Identity - A Free Online Course

After completing my Degree some years ago now, I vowed & declared I’d not be doing any more study that involved long assignments & stressful exams.  However, this week my new Irish friend Em, posted a blog on her website Emeralds that caught my attention.

Hibernia College, Dublin in association with The Gathering initiative is launching an 8 week  MOOC [short for ‘massive open online course] exploring the theme of Irish Identity.  Participants will be provided with a broad overview of Irish History, Literature, Culture, Traditions, Art, Film, Theatre, Sport, Music & Dance , Language, Poetry, Religion, Geography & Landscape.  
The course will be delivered entirely online, completely free of charge & accessible from anywhere in the world at anytime, day or night.

Why not I thought!  It’s a great opportunity to learn with people all around the world who share a common interest in their Irish Identity.  So without giving too much more thought to it, I signed up.
It starts on May 27 & I already have a 'study buddy' because Em has signed up too.      
So, go on, why don’t you join us?

If you need a little more convincing, check out this promotional video
To enrol, submit your e-address here before May 27th

As mentioned above, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course & was first introduced as a way of learning, around 2008.   It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people sign up to this form of online learning EACH WEEK! & in the not too distant future, could possibly transform the way we learn.
Not knowing very much about what MOOC’s were all about, I found two easy to understand videos on You Tube, written & narrated by Dave Cormier, the guy who actually coined the term MOOC's.

A short video by Dave Cormier answers my burning question... What is a MOOC?

One of the key points about MOOC’s is that they are "an EVENT, around which people who care about a topic, can get together & work & talk about it in a structured way”

In this next video Dave Cormier talks about the  5 steps that will help us to succeed in a MOOC

For those of us who have never participated in the learning environment of a MOOC before, there's no doubting, we're in for a treat.

This new method of learning is going to be a learning curve for me, but over the next few months, I hope to post occasional reflections, share resources & conversations which relate to the course.

Please feel free to leave a comment if, like me, you've decided to give this MOOC on "Exploring Irish Identity, a go... the more study buddies we have, the better.