Monday, June 30, 2008

Mythological Ireland

Driving northwest, heading into Roscommon and Sligo, this is what suddenly appears on top of a hill overlooking the highway. I love when art, and public art in particular, calls up the ancient mythology and communal archetypes of a nation. I always get a thrill when I see this. The metallic sculpture by Maurice Harron is called "The Gaelic Chieftain" and is in memory of the 16th century Battle of Curlew Pass.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Seaweed Bath

Not long back from a flying visit to Sligo and Roscommon to see friends. Annie Espana and I headed off to Strandhill for seaweed baths, thanks to a Christmas voucher from Colum. Check out the place: Great for a detox and relax if you are ever in the area. You get your own steam room and then you climb into a big bath of hot water filled with the kind of sea wrack and bladder wrack you see in this picture. The water feels absolutely gorgeous, soft and oiled. We were also in Boyle, where Annie used to run a coffee shop before heading off for Alicante with her family. As the town was one of the settings in The Hunter's Moon, I've posted some pics over on my Book Blog.

Monday, June 16, 2008

People of Europe, Wake Up!

Your leaders and your media will tell you that the Irish voted NO because we are ingrates and xenophobic and anti-Europe. You know these are lies. We teach your languages in our schools so that our children can speak with you. We visit your countries and we welcome you to ours. Indeed many of us voted NO on your behalf because we were apalled that you were not given the right by your own governments. We are a pro-Europe nation, but we are also a fiercely independent-minded nation. We fought for hundreds of years to gain our sovereignty. Because our constitution protects our sovereignty it triggered off a fail-safe clause that forced our government to hold a referendum. The Lisbon Treaty was not a treaty. It was a new constitution for Europe. That piece of obfuscation alone tells volumes. In fact, it was the same constitution - somewhat reformed - which the people of Holland and France rejected in their referenda. Did they get a chance to reconsider the reformed version? We are the ONLY people in Europe who had a public debate on this new constitution - and bigod we debated it! - and we are the ONLY people in Europe who had a vote on it. The German and French leaders are already threatening to throw us out or to go ahead without us. This again underscores the lack of democracy in the process.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lisbon Treaty Dilemma

Here I am, two days before the big vote and, like so many Irish people, I am wavering back and forth. I want to vote YES because I support a United States of Europe. I believe this is the best way forward into the 21st century. As someone who grew up in federalist and multicultural Canada, I know this can work. A strong Europe is needed to help balance the power in the world and to confront global warming, global corporations, and global security issues. However, I am genuinely and gravely concerned that the Irish people are the ONLY people in Europe who have the right to vote on this turning point in history! That every other European country has refused its people the right to have a say in the matter makes my nostrils twitch (is there a rat in the room?) and urges me to vote NO. I swear, I can see myself in the polling both, my hand wavering over the two boxes, praying for inspiration.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Derelict Dublin

Here's an interesting blogsite that Swedish Paddy (as I call him) has featured: It comes under the "horrors of modern Ireland" theme that I began with my Architorture One (more to come, honestly). I'm hoping this blogger won't give up the cause, though I note the last entry was in April. What is being shown is the ugly side of the Celtic Tiger - developers, government corruption, greed, land speculation, fragmented communities, and people losing their shirts and their homes.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Silk Purse

Okay, did I do it or what? (For sow's ear see below.) I think it is truly a thing of beauty and in retrospect, the way I stayed sane - well, reasonably - leading up to my daughter's ordeal. I finished it over the weekend but had to wait for the sun before I could photograph it. I think it has a rather Greek island look, instead of the Spanish and/or Mexican I was going for, but I love it all the same. Now on to the garden itself and the back of the house. A woman's work is never ...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It Has Begun

My daughter set off this morning, along with 49,999 other students to begin the great Irish rite of passage called the Leaving Certificate. These are 3-hour state exams in 8 subjects, following 2 half-hour oral exams in her two languages (Irish and French) and 2 major practicals in geography and art - she made an amazing rod puppet that was really two puppets. Findabhair has been preparing for this for an entire year, working hard, studying hard, and spending long hours in the library. Having gone through the Canadian system, I really have no concept of this barbaric and objectionable approach to education - yes, you can see how I feel about it; is it not difficult enough to be a teenager in this modern world? - but her Dad tells her that the nightmares end at around 35 years of age. She ordered a special breakfast this morning (like the condemned) - a bowl of strawberries and blueberries followed by fried tomatoes and mushrooms with toast and strong tea. As coach and mother, these are the various ways I have encouraged and supported her in the final days of this year-long ordeal:
1) hair tint
2) full body massage by the amazing Sherron
3) Rhodiola (a root extract given to soldiers on the Russian front and London medical interns)
4) Rescue Remedy
5) good luck card with 50 euro (she also received cards from grandmothers, father, and godfather)
6) exemption from all housework.
7) chocolate brownies.
It begins with one exam this morning in English. I'd say she is well able for it as, only half awake, she corrected my use of the word panacea. "Don't you mean placebo, mum?" That's my girl.
Go n'eirí an t'adh leat, a stór!