Category Archives: Irish

Friday poem 16: W B Yeats “When you are old and grey…”

A lovely classic, but also a classic put-down in its way.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Posted by on September 11, 2009 in Irish, poets and poetry


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My “Irish Correspondent” is very sad…

And who can blame him?

I am not a fan of the UK myself.

But this does not mean that I get myself a gun and go out at night shooting British soldiers or policemen. It makes no sense at all to behave in such a way. And anyone who claims that the cruel murders committed by a number of Irishmen on Saturday evening at the gate of the British Army’s Massereene Barracks (home base of the 38th Regiment, Royal Engineers) in Co. Antrim (north of Belfast) have anything whatsoever to do with politics or the Irish desire for self-determination and a united Irish nation is both a fool and a liar.

Read the rest of his post: Back to the ‘Bad Old Days’?

The romance of revolution has, we must always remember, its dark side: it inevitably becomes a blood feud. Where that ends no-one ever knows. Ireland has so recently recovered from its painful past, and has enough problems, as we all do, dealing with a very different painful present.

No-one expected things to be perfect, or to be without plenty of ‘teething problems’. But after the strongest exponents from both Northern communities – the former arch enemies DUP and Sinn Féin – managed to bury the hatchet and work together constructively in the Stormont administration, even the most serious sceptics began to think that there could be a peaceful future for the Six Counties.

The dream lasted for 22 months, and with every day the hopes for normality and prosperity grew a little larger.

But then came last weekend, and with it the return of guns – and the nutters who use them – to the North of Ireland.

What is encouraging is the tide of revulsion. See Dignified defiance as Belfast falls silent after killings in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.



Since I wrote this the Irish Correspondent has updated.


Posted by on March 12, 2009 in current affairs, Europe, Irish


The Writing Show : The View from Ireland, with author Kevin Stevens

This is a great interview, ranging through many books and authors. But who, some may be asking, is Kevin Stevens? The short answer is that he is an ex-pat Boston writer who now lives in Ireland. I have recently read his first novel, The Rizzoli Contract (2003). Even if I had worked out who was at the bottom of the mess a bit soonish, I still loved it. The blurb:
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Irish Convicts to NSW 1791 – 1831

This database contains details of Irish convicts who were transported to New South Wales in the period 1791 – 1831. It is very good.

Whitfield, Jacob Ship: Isabella I [1822] 1820 Tyrone Co Sentence: Life Occupation: Ploughman.

I doubt he would have made much use of the family crest I showed you yesterday.

What a different Sydney he arrived in!

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Posted by on January 6, 2006 in Australia and Australian, Crime and/or crime fiction, History, Irish, local, personal, Surry Hills


My Ancestry

Guess I will be revising this before long, though I have mostly got it right. Distant cousin Bob Starling has just sent me the result of his extensive researches on CD-ROM and hard copy. He has really gone back:
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Encounter: 30 October 2005 – Human Rights in an Age of Terror Transcript

This is now online, and SO relevant. As Mary Robinson says:

We just need to get back to the international human rights standards that are a considerable achievement of humankind. It’s important to reinforce the true values of our societies. If we compromise those then we have done a terrible disservice and made us all less secure in the longer term, so that the undermining of rule of law and of no torture and no detaining people endlessly without trial, without any reference to their families etcetera…I mean, (look) how far these matters have gone. So we need to reassert the standards.

And here is that teacher in a Brisbane Islamic school that I said last Sunday deserves a medal.
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Posted by on November 5, 2005 in Australia and Australian, current affairs, education, fundamentalism and extremism, human rights, interfaith, Irish, Islam, Multicultural, peace, Political, radio, terrorism


Ambassador of Conscience Award: Seamus Heaney

Read the wonderful poem “From the Republic of Conscience”.
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Posted by on November 2, 2005 in human rights, interfaith, Irish, poets and poetry, writers