Just wanted to post a few interesting Irish quotations I came across today. There’s no end to these:
“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” – Yeats
“The nicest buttocks in the world are in Ireland. Irish women are always carrying water on their heads, and always carrying their husbands home from pubs. Such things are the greatest posture-builders in the world.” – Actor Peter O’Toole
“I loved Jack Ford. I got him in his later days, and he was a total tyrant and a total autocrat and an Irish drunk. But I had a great time.” – Actor Richard Widmark, describing John Ford, director of many famous westerns.
“Politics is the chloroform of the Irish people, or rather the hashish.” – Oliver St. John
“That’s what the holidays are for – for one person to tell the stories and another to dispute them. Isn’t that the Irish way?” – Lara Flynn Boyle
Having one of those police “boots” clamped onto your car wheel is a pretty severe punishment for parking illegally. But police in Dublin seem to be clamping themselves in the foot, in a manner of speaking. With over 60,000 vehicles being hit with a parking boot and an €80 fine every year, you would think the city government would be raking it in. Not so. It actually costs almost twice as much to put the blasted things on cars than the city gets back in fines. In fact, the city is now losing over €5 million a year on the program.
Under Brehon laws that governed Ireland as long ago as 600 AD, a man had the right to divorce his wife if she committed adultery, stole things from him or generally “made a mess of everything.” But rules of conduct in marriage were indeed complicated. Under some circumstances, it was legal for a man to hit his wife — as long as he did not leave a mark. If he did, his wife would be entitled to financial compensation from him for the blow. A woman could divorce her husband if he was either impotent or homosexual, and women had the right to own property independently within marriage. The power of Brehon laws rose and fell in Ireland for several centuries, competing the influence of both church and British laws. They governed parts of Ireland, however, all the way up until the 17th century.
Everybody knows 2009 was tough for the auto industry. American automakers saw their sales fall anywhere from 20% to 43% (with Chrysler faring the worst among U.S. manufacturers) from their sales levels of 2008. But Ireland had it even worse – much worse. RTE News reports that car sales in Ireland plunged a mind-numbing 62% in 2009 from the 2008 level. The Society of the Irish Motor Industry reports that less than 60,000 cars were bought in ’09, compared to more than 150,000 the previous year. Happily, RTE says, car dealers are now seeing “increased footfall” in their showrooms with the start of 2010.
I came across this interesting film from Pathe News, made in 1905, that portrayed people in the Irish countryside around the turn of the last century. The live footage has a haunting quality I think:
Just a few years ago ago, the Irish economy was so strong that people couldn’t seem to get their hands on enough luxuries. Vacation homes, Mercedes Benz’s and dinners at expensive restaurants all became par for the course as the Celtic Tiger roared. But things have changed. Irish folks who decided they were flush enough to “join the horsey set” have now been walloped by the recession, and it’s not just their families that are suffering. Their horses are feeling the brunt as well. A spokesman for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals tells The Irish Times that reports are coming in every day throughout the Irish countryside of horses are being abandonded, and left underfed on remote rural roads or fields. Owners, apparently, can no longer afford to pay the €100 or so it costs each week to feed a horse, or the attendant costs of grooming and medical care. The situation, he says, is the worst it’s been in almost 50 years.
Have a nice one, come snow or rain or sunshine, and enjoy this nice cover version of the Pogues “Fairytale of New York,” sung by Christy Moore. Let’s hope for lots of improvements in 2010!
Last year a poll was conducted in County Wicklow asked people who they feel is absolutely the greatest person in Ireland’s long history. The result: Anne Devlin. Anne who? Yes, Anne Devlin. She was a housekeeper in the employ of Robert Emmet, the great Irish revolutionary, in the 1800’s. Her real job, however, was to give a make Emmet’s home seem like a normal family abode when it was, in fact, a full-time meeting place for anti-British activists planning the famous uprising of 1803. Devlin was ultimately arrested by the British, tortured and thrown, along with her entire family, into Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, a prison that was so squalid that seven of her relatives died there. Emmet himself urged her to confess in order to secure her release, but she refused to give over the names of any Irish insurgents. After three years in solitary confinement, she was released from prison (where she had seen Emmet beheaded), only to die in extreme poverty. Devlin was herself from County Wicklow, which may explain her surprising status among the respondents of this particular poll.
OK, after a rather long process, here is a new trailer for my book. Let me know what y’all think. It’s me on guitar in the background, as well as that dreadful fiddle playing. I try. There’s some funny stuff as ever about Ireland and Irish culture.
An outstanding jeweler in Ireland named Leigh Maher just wrote an article for my website about her favorite jewelry shops on Grafton Street in Dublin. She knows her stuff! It gives inside tips on finding classic Celtic designs and more modern pieces, in a very wide price range. Great inside info if you want to get some great bargains on baubles next time you visit the fair city. Read it here