Did you happen to catch Colbert’s broadcast from Vancouver the other night? He spent some time at Irish House, where he did a reading of James Joyces’ “Ulysses” that was so deadpan it seemed to actually get people upset. In fact, a fight actually broke out in the audience that appeared to be real. Colbert’s visit to Vancouver has been edgy in an interesting way.
The Canadians seem to love him to the point of being willing to put up with just about anything he says about them. So he’s really going for it. His repeated questions to Ujjal Dosanjh, an Indian-born Canadian politician, about which caste he was born into seemed to go just to the point where the guy was getting seriously pissed off.
Canadians seem to get Colbert’s inside joke – that most of the political commentators on Fox are basically entertainers. I’m not sure alot of Americans really get it, and I know the commentators on Fox don’t get it.
New York writer Quentin Crisp confronts an Irish concept of atheism:
“When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, “Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?”
The inhabitants of Coney Island, off the coast of County Sligo in Ireland’s northwest, claim that the New York neighborhood famous for its amusement park was named for their little outpost. Coney Island, Ireland, which you can walk to from the mainland at low tide, has a population of six. Legend says that a Sligo sea captain gave its name to the Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1700’s. Others argue that the American Coney Island was once known as Konijnen Eiland, or “Rabbit Island” by Dutch settlers, and that the word “coney” is simply the English translation of “konijnen,” the dutch word for “rabbit.” For what it’s worth, the American Coney Island was once an actual island, but is now connected to the mainland of Brooklyn.
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.
…because the ancient Celts had viewed it a an extremely powerful plant with amazing powers of healing. The Christians who came to dominance in Ireland after the Celts actually banned mistletoe for centuries because it was seen as such a potent symbol of paganism. It wasn’t until the Victorian “revival of Christmas” in the 19th century that mistletoe came back into wide use as a holiday decoration in Ireland.
Ireland’s travellers, formerly known as the “tinkers” carries on, but it’s a hard life indeed. A 2008 study found that there were still more than 20,000 itinerant people living on Ireland’s roadways. Today they live in motorized homes rather than the painted, horse-drawn carriages one saw on Irish roads right up to the mid 70’s. Travellers have only a one per cent chance of living beyond age 65, and are about eight times as likely to be unemployed as the general Irish population.