Lá Fhéile Bríd Shona
St. Brigid's Day, or the Celtic festival of Imbolc if you like, was Monday February 1st, historically considered to be the first day of Spring. So welcome to Sligo Heritage agus Lá Fhéile Bríd/Imbolc shona gach duine, Happy St. BrigidsDay/Imbolc every one.
Imbolc has been celebrated since ancient times. It is a Cross Quarter Day,
midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It can fall anywhere
between the 2nd & 7th of February. This year it falls on the 3rd of February. For more go HERE
January 23rd 2010
What does the European Parliament mean to Sligo?
'Very little', the man or woman on the street would respond immediately! And with good reason. What do we really know about the workings of the European Parliament? Yes, you're right, very little! Except when there's an election. Then we're flooded with invitations from candidates to vote for them promising us a Nirvana down the road if we would just put our X after their name.
We do, and then they disappear off into the wild blue yonder. We don't hear from them again until we have to vote on legislation such as the Lisbon Treaty. 'Lisbon Treaty' we echo! What's that? And where have you been? We look for our stay-at-home politicians up in Dail Eireann for an explanation and they're scratching their heads too. Why, even Charlie McCreevy our European Commissioner, one of the disappeared, tells us he has better things to do than be reading that sort of stuff!
Are we surprised? No!
Marian Harkin: Independent Member of the European Parliament for North West constituency
Dear Reader, help is at hand. Sligoman Larry Mullin recently went on an informational trip to the European capital sponsored by our MEP Marion Harkin. She is allowed two such sponsored trips per year:
Larry Mullin: Our man in Strasbourg
"On a damp and misty morning recently a group of enthusiasts gathered at Dublin Airport for a flight to Frankfurt. They numbered fifty all told and were availing of the trip to visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg and also a brief sojourn in Heidelberg and Baden Baden. The trip was arranged by the local MEP, Marian Harkin, who, with all other MEPs has facilities for two trips a year to take constituents to visit one of the EU institutions.
The EU Parliament, made up of 736 MEPs from the 27 member states, meets in Strasbourg on the last week of every month and holds its plenary sessions there. This is a huge and costly logistic exercise but is a very welcome event for the citizens of Strasbourg whose hotels and guesthouses are filled to overflowing for that week. For this reason we were quartered in Baden Baden for the first two nights. This is a charming town of about 55,000 citizens located in the heart of the Black Forest region. It is renowned for its hot springs since Roman times and during the 19th century the royalty of Europe, including Queen Victoria, Wilhelm 1, and Napoleon 111 paid regular visits there as well as the Russian writers Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. After a drive in the Black Forest we had the good fortune to relax for a couple of hours in the hot springs just like the royalty of other days!
Sligonians meet Marian Harkin, Pat the Cope and Sean Kelly
Next day we rose early for the journey to Strasbourg. At first we had a guided bus and walking tour of the city and were able to gaze in wonder at the great medieval Cathedral described by Victor Hugo as “a great and delicate marvel”. In the afternoon it was on to the European Parliament – the goal of our trip. The Parliament is housed in a spectacular new building, opened in 1998, with a 750 seat chamber and myriads of offices and meeting rooms. Marian Harkin met us there, gave us a background on the workings of the parliament and outlined her work on behalf of Ireland. She is working hard at present to secure EU funding for flooding in Galway, Athlone ,Cork, etc. and also some enhanced redundancy money for the many Irish workers laid off during the recession. She was later joined by her colleagues Pat “the Cope” Gallagher, and Sean Kelly (former GAA President). It became clear to us that all Irish MEPs, North and South, work together for the good of Irish citizens and collectively punch well above their weight for our good.
European Union HQ, Strasbourg
We were then brought to visit the Assembly in session in the great hall. It is several times the size of our Dail Chamber but members speeches are much more controlled.. Each member is given 1 -1.20 minutes to make his/her contribution, so speeches have to be concise and to the point. While we were there two items were down for discussions – violence against women and piracy off the coast of Somalia. There is a huge and complex translation service in operation there as each of the member states is entitled to use its own language. There is an Irish translation service operating when Irish MEPs are speaking and many of them make use of it. The evening we visited the Parliament it was sitting till midnight and I understand this is quite common. Our visit was enormously interesting and our group was very impressed to see the workings of the EU and its members at first hand.
Sligo group in Heidelberg
Later that evening we were taken to our hotel in Heidelberg. This is an ancient and historic city which fortunately escaped the ravages of the Second World War and was chosed by General Patton as his headquarters when the US Army arrived. The oldest University in Germany is located here (founded in 1386) and the great Medieval Castle overlooks the city. We spent a very interesting morning visiting the Castle which provides spectacular views of the city and contains the biggest wine vat in the world.. Sigmund Romberg’s “Student Prince” was centred around here and as we explored the scene we could almost feel serenaded by the dulcet tones of Mario Lanza’s “Gaudeamus Igitur”. Unfortunately the great vat had no wine!
Section of Strasbourg travel group. Larry Mullin (back row 4th from right) with Marion Harkin (front row 2nd from right)
However this was remedied on the final evening in Heidelberg when we were guests of Marian in an exclusive restaurant and where we wined and dined and caroused late into the night.. In keeping with good political practice the restaurant Marian chose was owned by a Donegal woman who is married to a Greek. We were able to sample the best of Irish and Greek cuisine but refrained from discussing our common financial problems.
The next morning, after some free time for shopping, we bade farewell to Heidelberg and headed for Frankfurt Airport to catch our flight home. The trip was a wonderful experience – enlightening, entertaining and educational. The tour operator and guide, John, was most gracious and understanding and Marian was enthusiastic and efficient. The trip enhanced our knowledge of the EU and its workings and helped us to appreciate the work our MEPs do on our behalf. The second vote on the Lisbon Treaty was well worthwhile.
Sure don’t we all know well that an Irishman’s “no” means “ask me again”.
January 12 2010
Mountbatten assassination; thirty year secret revelations!
BRITISH diplomats complained bitterly in private about the lack of security provided by the Irish authorities for Lord Mountbatten following his assassination by the IRA, it was disclosed recently. Mountbatten, a distinguished Second World War military leader and an uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, was killed on August 27, 1979, when the IRA detonated a bomb on his boat near his holiday villa in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo. Three other people died in the explosion.
Ambush at Mullaghmore
|Lord Mountbatten, uncle to Duke of Edinburgh
In a telegram to Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington -- released by the British National Archives at Kew under the 30-year rule -- the British ambassador in Dublin, Robin Haydon, said there was a widespread belief the attack on Lord Mountbatten could have been prevented. He said the concerns about the level of security provided by the Garda Siochana were shared by local people who had "greatly liked and respected" the peer: "For those men and women the horror of what happened was and still is very real and their shame is genuine. The more so because they must share the doubts which we in this embassy have that, had the Garda Siochana been more vigilant and conscientious, the murders might not have happened," he added.
Mr Haydon said he had been told by Lord Mountbatten's daughter, Lady Pamela Hicks, that it was the first year when the boat did not have a police guard on it during the day. "In the absence of an official report, it would be unwise to go into detail, but I must say I find it extraordinary that the boat was apparently not searched by the garda before it sailed. It is even more extraordinary that, to my knowledge, no questions have been asked by the Irish media about the level and adequacy of garda security for the Mountbatten family."
Mr Haydon also strongly criticised the "apathetic reaction" of Irish prime minister Jack Lynch, who refused to break from his holiday to Portugal to deal with the crisis. "The Taoiseach's explanation, that he kept in close touch with the situation and issued instructions from Portugal. . . showed remarkable insensitivity to the need for a political leader in a crisis not only to take action but to be seen to be taking it."
It is difficult to understand why the ambassador construes that 'local people' might feel any shame as expressed above. After all it hasn't ever been shown that anyone in Sligo had any hand act or part in the assassination. So why should they be ashamed? Perhaps it would be more conducive to a reconciliation of the bad history that exists between Ireland and England if Ambassador Haydon was to feel some shame about how English families came to 'acquire' so much land and property in Ireland: Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle included.
Winter's grip on Sligo and Ireland
For three weeks now Sligo, as well as the rest of Ireland, has been in the grip of the worst winter
weather for the past thirty years.
The weather station at Markree Castle, Collooney, Co Sligo, recorded one of the lowest temperatures in Ireland on Saturday 9th last at -11.5 degrees Celsius — and on that day the temperature never rose above -1.4 degrees. The record was set on January 16, 1881, when the mercury dropped to -19.1.
The North West’s local authorities are urging the public to conserve water in their homes. The warning comes as the beginning of a thaw in the Big Freeze is causing major problems to water supplies across the region. The thaw in the on-going ground freeze is causing bursts in some areas while the continuing low temperatures is leading to frozen pipes in others. Contributing to the problem is the habit of homeowners leaving their taps running at night in an effort to keep attic plumbing from freezing.
Senior Water Engineer with Sligo County Council, Donal Harrison said water problems in Sligo have now spread county-wide, crews are working to rectify the problems and disruptions can be expected in the coming days.
Our neighbouring Co. Leitrim has been hardest hit and the Defence Forces are still at work there. Twenty troops from Finner Camp have been gritting footpaths and rural roads since last Saturday after Leitrim County Council called in their assistance. Personnel will be at work in Carrick-On-Shannon, Drumshanbo, Ballinamore and Manorhamilton today. Press officer with the 4th Western Brigade, Commandant Rory McCorley, said troops also hope to go to Kinlough also to carry out gritting work there.
Acting the Maggot
A twenty-three year old man who jumped out in front of a Garda patrol car responding to an urgent call, forcing the driver to take evasive action, was fined €300 by Judge Kevin Kilraine at Sligo District Court. Thomas Meldrum, Rathedmond, was said to have been drunk at the time. He apologised for his actions and stated that he had been "acting the maggot" with others at John Street on August 18th last. He was represented by Mr. Tom MacSharry, solicitor.
Outlining the background to the incident, Inspector Sean McGinty said that Gardai had been responding urgently to a call at 10.15 pm and had the blue lights and siren activated. Meldrum had been observed by Garda Lisa Sewell jumping out in front of the car, waving his arms and trying to stop the vehicle. Garda Sewell had to take evasive action to avoid hitting him and when the patrol car stopped, Meldrum started laughing.
A great country says the judge!
Defendant told the court that he wished to apologise for his actions on the night and now realised that Gardai were responding to an urgent call. "A few of us were acting the maggot jumping out in front of cars. I didn't realise at the time that they were responding to a call and I am sorry," he said. Responding to comments from Judge Kilraine, Meldrum said he had learned a lesson from the incident. He was unemployed and said he had spent his dole on drink.
"It's a great country. You live at home and get looked after and drink your dole. This action was totally uncalled for," said Judge Kilraine, who ruled as stated on a summons of obstruction. He struck out a summons of Meldrum being intoxicated in public.
' Fireside Poets' Christmas/New Year feature for 2009/2010 moved HERE
I have come across this only lately. For students of the Northern Ireland conflict, euphemistically named the 'Troubles', it is well worth a look: 1968 Retrospective - Bernadette's answer
December 8th 2009
Winter Solstice at Newgrange
As the Irish Government cuts spending in an effort to get the nations finances back on track, the Winter Solstice illumination at Newgrange will not be streamed live on the internet this year. An archive video of the 2007 solstice
illumination (pic left) is available HERE , the full video is 1 hour, a short compilation by Victor Reijs is also available.
Access to the chamber at Newgrange for the solstice illumination has been decided by lottery, however all are welcome to gather outside the entrance
to the mound on each of the mornings from December 18th to December 23rd inclusive, Sunrise is at 8.58am.
Food and alcohol tops NI shopping list
Shopping across the border in Northern Ireland continues apace. Almost half of householders along the border have taken trips to Northern Ireland for their shopping in the past year. According to figures released recently by the Central Statistics Office, 41 per cent of all households in the border region have taken at least one trip to the North. One in five households have admitted to taking six trips in the last twelve months with 11% taking 13 or more shopping trips across the border.
Their report further states that between June 2008 and June 2009, people from Republic spent 435 million euro in Northern Ireland stores with groceries accounting for the biggest spend. 80% of those surveyed said they crossed the border for their food shopping while 44% chose to spend their cash on alcohol.
Because we're Irish?
The figures come as retailers here urge consumers to shop locally. 'Retail Ireland', an organisation representing the retail sector, claim that one job is lost here for every 150 shoppers who go across the border. Following their commercial message on radio and TV urging shoppers to buy with them, Dunnes Stores ad includes the phrase 'Because we're Irish'.
Given that most Irish people's patriotism is no deeper than their pocket, perhap their message would be better received if it said: 'Because we're cheaper'!
Bishop expresses ‘horror’ at child abuse report
Bishop Christy Jones
THE Bishop of Elphin has expressed his “horror and revulsion” at the findings of the Murphy Report.
Bishop Christoper Jones told parishioners in Sligo Cathedral that he reiterated his “sincere sorrow” to clerical sex abuse victims. The Sligo church leader also expressed sorrow to all those who found the Church’s response to be lacking in any way. He added that he felt the publication of the Murphy Report was important and necessary in bringing the painful truth of the past. into “full light”.
Bishop Jones said those abused had been let down by their Church. The weeks that have passed since the publication of the Ryan Report has been a time of “unprecedented shock, despondency and soul-searching”.
The bishop said the diocese is committed to proving a safe environment to children and in conclusion, asked every parish in the Diocese of Elphin to pray for victims of abuse and that the Church may be strengthened in their determination to put children first, now and in the future.
Many of the country’s other bishops yesterday made statements on the Murphy report to their congregations. The report, published last week, found that hundreds of cases of abuse were covered up by the Archdiocese and other church and state authorities. The Murphy report also criticised the garda response to some of the complaints.
Apparitions at Knock, Co. Mayo
Coleman's claims of supernatural phenomenon at Knock. Believe it or not in the past two months he has gathered huge crowds to the tiny Mayo village some of whom have claimed variously, to see the sun dancing or to see the image of the Blessed Virgin or the sacred chalice in the sun. Others have had nothing more for their trouble than a trip to the eye doctor for damage to their retina. The country has in turn been amused, bemused and plain unbelieving of Dublin man Joe
Now it seems that the interest in the alleged apparitions in Knock may have run its course. Last Saturday where, for the third time, Dublin based clairvoyant Joe Coleman predicted the Virgin Mary would appear to him the crowd was significantly less than before. The numbers were in the hundreds rather than the thousands, it rained most of the time and there was a general air of disappointment about the place. There were no reports this time of the sun dancing in the sky. However Joe himself claimed he had received a message from the Blessed Virgin and a 12 year old claimed the she had seen an image of Mary.
Tuesday November 10th
Canadian Ambasador Patrick Binns visits County Sligo
Canadian Ambassador Patrick Binns paid a visit to Sligo on last Monday November 2nd. County Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee representative Larry Mullin met the Ambassador. Presenting Ambassador Binns with an illustrated book on the history and heritage of Sligo Mr Mullin made the following remarks:
|L to R: Denis Feehily, Larry Mullin presenting books to Ambassador Binns on behalf of County Sligo Famine Memorial Committee
Carrick of Whitehaven
"The County Sligo Famine Memorial Committee is honoured to be gven the opportunity to meet H.E. Ambassador Pat Binns and to make a presentation to him on behalf of our Committee. We first had contact with the Ambassador early this summer when our Chairman, Joe McGowan, received word that the wreck of a famine ship,believed to be “The Carrick of White Haven”, had surfaced in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. This ship had huge resonances with the people of North Sligo area as it was the famine ship chartered by Lord Palmerstown of Classiebawn in March 1847 to take his tenants to Canada (also known as “shovelling out” or “enforced emigration”). This ship was wrecked in a storm in the Gulf of St.Lawrence and most of the passengers were drowned. Our hope was to take back to Sligo a portion of the wreck and erect it in Mullaghmore as a memorial to these sad times.
As it transpired the Canadian authorities proved that it was not the wreck of the “Carrick”at all
but some other ship of a later date. But I have to say that the prompt action taken by the Ambassador in this matter and the interest he showed in our efforts were greatly appreciated and we want to thank him most sincerely for this. We also thank Deputy John Perry who took up our cause so vigorously.
Famine Emigration from County Sligo
The extent of Famine emigration from Sligo Port is difficult to quantify exactly but best estimates place it at over 34,000 and of these the majority went to Canada. As well as the aforementioned “Carrick of White Haven” there were several other ships such as “Lord Ashburton”, “Aeolus” and “ Dromahair” who plied the Atlantic regularly to carry thousands of starving emigrants to the Canadian ports of Quebec, St.Johns, New Foundland, ports in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Is,(where the Ambassador was Premier) as well as the quarantine centre at Grosse Isle.
Many of the emigrants arrived without money, food or clothing and sick with fever. Even worse, let us consider this: In Nov. 1847 the “Aeolus”sailing from Sligo arrived at New Brunswick with a cargo of young families, widows, decrepit old women and men riddled with disease. The St.Lawrence river was icebound, the streets of Quebec were covered with snow and the passengers were in a state of semi-nakedness. The city of St.John’s had to take them into care and outraged sent a scathing letter to Lord Palmerston expressing regret and fury that the agents 'should have exposed such a numerous and distressed portion of his tenantry to the severity and privation of a New Brunswick winter – unprovided with the common means of support and almost in a state of semi-nudity – without regard to humanity or even common decency.' Many more such horrific records and reports abound but this is not the occasion to elaborate further."
Mr. Mullin concluded his address by reciting a poem composed by a local man, Martin Gormally,following a visit to Grosse Isle.
For background to the Carrick of Whitehaven incident mentioned above go HERE and scroll down
Tuesday October 27th
As millions of children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween on the night of October 31st, few will be aware of its ancient Celtic roots in the Samhain festival. In Celtic Ireland about 2000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At Samhain the division between this world and the Otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.
Read more HERE
Wednesday October 7th 2009
Paul Burns has been reading A Bitter Wind and shares these very interesting insights with us:
'Joe: I was just reading in your book about the export of dog skins from Ireland in medieval times and how dogs were eaten “once upon a time.” Actually, the practice continues elsewhere. If you Google “dog stew” you will find several recipes.
A few years ago while researching our American explorers Lewis and Clark, I found it interesting that one of the principal items of diet for that expedition was dogs. They developed a taste while wintering with the Mandan Indian tribe, and when they pushed on up the Missouri River they took along a herd of puppies. The up-river Indians did not eat dogs, and soon word spread that an expedition of “dog eaters” was coming. While negotiating for horses with one tribe, a war almost broke out when a chief threw a dog into Lewis’s lap with the contemptuous comment “Here is your supper!”
When my great-uncle Justin was in China in 1904, he wrote an essay on Cantonese cooking in which he described how certain restaurants had caged snakes, dogs, and kittens in the entryway for the patrons to choose from. He said these dogs were called “chows” and were similar to a dog back
home called an “Esquimaux.” The chow now is a well-known species and considered to be short-tempered. No wonder, since they began as table fare.
I don’t know about Ireland, but in America “chow” is slang for food, a term that I suspect was brought back from China. Anyway, I never order chow mein in a Chinese restaurant!'
Thanks for that Paul: Now there's an interesting one for SligoHeritage readers to chew on for awhile!
Lisbon Referendum: Sligo says ‘Yes’
There was an almost two to one majority in County Sligo in favour of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty in the recent referendum. In the last vote the constituency returned a 56.7% to 43.9% 'No' vote. On last Friday the vote resulted in a resounding 64.3% to 35.7% victory for the Yes side, reflecting slightly less than the national result of 67.1% to 32.9%.
Marion Harkin says
Independent MEP Marion Harkin, a strong advocate of a ‘yes’ vote, was delighted:
There was a swing of around 21% from the No to the Yes side this time’ she said.‘There was a lower ‘Yes’ majority in Sligo town than out in the county and voters in booths in Cranmore and Forthill bucked the general trend by returning No majorities. However, even in the town there was an almost 60% Yes vote and in the rest of the country that went up to over 68%, reflecting a big change of heart on the part of voters this time around.
People genuinely did know much more this time and the information from the referendum commission was much clearer. The economy weighed heavily on people’s minds and that was very much part of their concerns when they were going to vote. There was also a lot of issues clarified beyond doubt for people. Also you had the farming organisations and most of the trade unions saying Yes from the start this time and more personalities and celebrities coming out and saying Yes whereas the last time there were more coming out saying No.’
Declan Bree says
Councillor Declan Bree (Ind Socialist) who had canvassed for a ‘No’ vote, was ‘disappointed but not surprised.’ ‘Canvassing over the last 10 to 12 days it was very clear that there was a significant swing to the Yes side’ he said. ‘Over the past three or four months we have had the entire establishment campaigning for a Yes vote and constantly telling us that if we didn’t vote Yes it would leave Ireland being sidestepped by the EU and would lead to more unemployment and a further decline in the economy. What is particularly sinister is that huge sums of money have been spent by big business in their efforts to overturn last year’s referendum result. The result gives the government the green light to proceed with the massive cuts being proposed.
What SligoHeritage wants to know is this: now that we have had a win for the ‘No’ side last time out and one for the ‘Yes’ this time, does that not constitute a draw? And would it be reasonable to suggest there should be a playoff to decide what people really want?
September 23rd 2009
Three People rescued off the Bundoran Coast
Maintaining its reputation as one of the most treacherous beaches in Ireland, Bundoran, just across the bay from Mullaghmore, County Sligo, reported another near tragedy last weekend. Bundoran RNLI lifeboat rescued three people off the coast of the resort town in Co. Donegal who were placed in danger by the dangerous currents and undertows there.
The three included two swimmers who were swept out to sea and a member of the public who went to their aid. All three people were rescued from the water and brought ashore on the lifeboat, where they were given medical attention by members of the ambulance service. Speaking after the rescue, Tony McGowan, Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said “The sea is unpredictable and a change in tides can catch swimmers unaware”.
Humour in the Courts
It was "a very serious business" to challenge gardai who were out doing their job, a Judge told a defendant at Sligo Court. The Sligo Champion recently reported the case of Thomas Meldrum, Rathedmond, Sligo, who was summoned by Garda Anthony Pender for intoxication and threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour at Lord Edward Street in Sligo. Inspector Sean McGinty told the court that gardai responded to a call at Lord Edward Street where the defendant was very intoxicated, aggressive and threatened a member of the gardai. Defending solicitor Mr. Tom MacSharry said the defendant apologised afterwards to Garda Pender.
He was 20 years of age and was out on the town with his girlfriend. He broke up with her and took it quite bad.
Referring to an earlier case in which he had been told there was a "lover's tiff," Judge Conal Gibbons remarked that this was "the second one."
When the drink is in the wit is out!
Mr. MacSharry said the defendant went to a chipper and was hit by another party and that was why he got more upset. Mr. MacSharry also said the defendant was "a victim of the economic downturn." Judge: "And the romantic downturn."
Judge Gibbons said it was the young and romantic and adventurous who were out at that hour of the night and the gardai had to keep decorum and he himself wouldn't do it for ten times the salary. The Judge said that young guards had to go out and face that, and it was a tough business to face into a public house with people full of drink, in good mood and bad mood. The Judge said that when people see gardai, they wanted to fight them and if the gardai took them up on the offer, they would flatten them because they were fitter and not drunk. He said the gardai were a disciplined force and "we are lucky to have them in Ireland."
Mr. MacSharry: "When the drink is in, the sense and the wit is out."
Judge (to defendant): What do you do when you're not drinking?"
Defendant: "Not much."
Judge: "Did you ever think of taking up boxing? Mr. MacSharry says it's the drink."
Mr. MacSharry: "And the heartbreak."
Judge: "Drink never did any harm in a bottle. It's only when you mix it with the humans."
He went on to tell the defendant that it was "a very serious business" when one challenged gardai going out to do their job. "It's outrageous," he added. "I don't know what it is. Is it some sort of alpha male syndrome?" Judge Gibbons said he would give the defendant a chance and not send him to Castlerea Prison. "He will make a contribution of €500 to a charity nominated by Garda Pender," said the Judge, who remanded the defendant on continuing bail to August 26th.
Judge Gibbons concluded by telling the defendant: "I cannot do anything for you on the romantic end. You will have to rely on Mr. MacSharry for advice on those matters."