Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Raheny News @ 40

Report on arson of thatched cottage 2002
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Raheny News is 40 this year and will soon be issuing its 1,100th edition.

The first edition of the "Green Paper" came out on 2 February 1975 "after trials and tribulations, problems with typewriters, with a stubborn gestetner printer, with the search for news and content". It was produced "by a small band of volunteers, led by the first editor, Liam Flynn, gathered in the home of the curate Fr. Con O'Keeffe on St. Assam's Road" and its fair to say it hasn't looked back since.

It has reported on many historical local events, such as the Stardust fire on St. Valentine's Day 1981, and the arson of the thatched cottage in Fox's Lane in October 2002 (above). But these were exceptional events. The paper reports local sports results in great detail, records local deaths, reminds us of upcoming festivals (religious and lay) and, in general, keeps the local people in touch with what's going on around them.

Thatched cottage, Fox's Lane, 2006

The thatched cottage is still there at the entrance to Fox's Lane.

Exhibition in Raheny Library

During the month of February 2015 Raheny library hosted an exhibition of some of the gems from the Green Paper over the decades.

Here's wishing the paper another forty years. It is a huge community resource in the area and I'm sure many copies are sent abroad to keep emigrants connected to their place of origin.

And it has managed to keep the real (inflation adjusted) price of the paper almost stable. The original price in 1975 was 2p which would translate into about 2½ cent. The consumer price index has increased about sevenfold since then while the nominal price of the paper has increased by about eightfold, giving an increase in the real price of just over 10%. But who would baulk at forking out 20 cent for such a valuable resource?

Unfortunately the paper's website seems to have lapsed so we'll just have to hope for a new start in the near future.

I edited such a paper once myself, though on a smaller scale and for a very short period long ago, so my wishes are from the heart.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Writers Wall

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This is the north wall of Raheny library.

Where, I wondered, had the Wifi gone?

Well, it's been moved to free the wall for its new use.

This is about to become the writers wall (with a current working title Raheny & Beyond: A Literary Heritage).

The idea is to record the names of local writers, past and present, on the wall. So far the list stands at 39. Some of the names will be more familiar than others.

I recognised just under half the names on the list: Douglas Appleyard, Eanna Brophy, Roddy Doyle, Joe Duffy, Frank Gallagher, Stephen Gwynn, Marie Elizabeth Hayes, Pat Ingoldsby, Neil Jordan, Declan Kiberd, Colm Lennon, Seosamh Mac Grianna, Dennis McIntyre, Christopher Nolan, Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin, Maureen Potter, Erwin Schrődinger and Joan Sharkey.

And the great thing is that the list will not fill the wall, so there will be plenty of room for other aspirants as they are recognised, discovered, or publish their first book.

So I'm getting out my quill, bat's blood and vellum and having a go.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Lepracaun

Larry O'Toole
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Old Cartoons are becoming the in thing. In recent times we have had two books on important cartoonists in Ireland: Felix Larkin's Terror and Discord: The Shemus Cartoons in the Freeman’s Journal, 1920–1924 (Ernest Forbes), and James Curry's Artist of the Revolution (Ernest Kavanagh). I have done a talk in NLI on the cartoons of Gordon Brewster. And now we have another book on those of Thomas Fitzpatrick which appeared in his own publication The Lepracaun which ran over the period 1905-1915.

And a fine book it is too. It is beautifully produced with a foreword by Jim FitzPatrick, an account of the life of Thomas Fitzpatrick and his satirical publication, The Lepracaun, and a fine selection of very well presented cartoons with explanatory commentaries setting their context. I have to confess I have only skimmed it so far but am looking forward very much to digging into it.

The book was launched last Thursday evening (19/2/2015) by Larry O'Toole, Deputy Dublin Lord Mayor (above), and you could see his heart was in it. Fitzpatrick's cartoons demolished pretentiousness, lampooned vested interests and cut very quickly to the political chase. A man after Larry's own heart.

Ciarán Wallace

He was followed by Ciarán Wallace, one of the books two authors, who gave us a run down on the cartoons themselves and convinced us that their target was virtually anything that moved. No element of society, and particularly of the body politic was spared.

James Curry

James Curry, the other author, gave us a run down on the life and times of Thomas Fitzpatrick who was a very interesting fellow, well suited to running a satirical magazine and producing its quality cartoons himself.

Jim FitzPatrick

Thomas's grandson, Jim FitzPatrick, told us some more about his grandfather but he was clearly thrilled at the amount of new material revealed by the authors' research. Yes, that is Jim (Che Guevara Poster) FitzPatrick (if you haven't already clicked on his name above) and one of the big thrills for him was to find how much of his own style he may have owed to his grandfather though he had been totally unaware of this until faced with the information and pictures in the book.

Conánn FitzPatrick

Jim said he fairly chucked the cartoon path himself as he was no good at it but told us that the tradition is carried down through his own son Conánn who could toss off a good cartoon at the drop of a hat. The book's frontespiece, based on the cover of the original Lepracaun, and produced by Conánn, looks like a cross between Alice in Wonderland and a modern animation film. This is not surprising as Conánn is a lecturer in digital animation at the University of Ulster.

The book is published as part of Dublin City Council's contribution to the Decade of Commemorations, 1913 - 1923. The series editors are those two stalwarts of the Dublin historical scene: Mary Clarke and Máire Kennedy. The book is available from Four Courts Press

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Click Tweak Print

It's great when stuff gets moving locally. Readers may remember Michael Edwards's excellent photo exhibition in Donaghmede Shopping Centre some while back.

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Well, he's off again. This time with a workshop/course covering taking photos, processing (Photoshop) and printing them.

The course has two in studio sessions: (i) an introduction to the course and your camera, and (ii) a Photoshop class. There are also two outdoor sessions: (i) a morning on location in St. Anne's park, and (ii) an evening on location at night.

Participants will be able to submit two of their best photos for inclusion in a mini-exhibition in the Donaghmede Shopping Centre.

Course starts on next Wednesday (25/2/2015), cost is €99 and further details can be got by emailing ( or phoning Michael (01 8470110).

Click image for larger version

And I gather a camera club has now been set up in Raheny. Hopefully that will lead to another exhibition of local talent in the near future.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sáirséal agus Dill

Seán Sáirséal Ó hÉigeartaigh & Brighid Uí Éagartaigh
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I have just listened to a radio programme which brought me straight back to my schooldays. Cian Ó hÉigeartaigh and his sister Aoileann have just published a large tome on the history of their parents' publishing company Sáirséal agus Dill. Seán founded the company in 1947 and his wife kept it going for a further 14 years after his premature death in 1967.

Máirtín Ó Cadhain, speaking at Seán's funeral, credited Seán with the salvation of writing in Irish.

I remember this publishing house very well. I had some of their books in school.

Stair na hEorpa nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. It came into the classroom at a critical point. We were changing over from the old Irish script (with the séimhiús) to the new Roman script (which substituted a "h" for the séimhiú). This was a severe culture shock and the text suddenly looked like gobbledegook (or Welsh!). We eventually got used to it and here we are today.

I also had not only Albert Folens's French course book, Nuachúrsa Fraincise, but had Albert himself teaching me with it. There was an element of fiction in this book as far as Albert's class was concerned. We were learning French through Irish, hence the need for this particular text book. But Albert didn't have hardly any Irish so we were effectively taught through the direct method.

And then there was poor Julius Caesar. Never made it to Ireland but his Gallic Wars were now published with Irish language footnotes. What next? Mind you, this particular book was not quite up to the rigours of our Latin class and had started to come apart by the end of the year.

Sáirséal agus Dill also published Bás nó Beatha, a translation into Irish by Máirtín Ó Cadhain of Saunders Lewis's rallying call to supporters of the Welsh language in 1961/2. Lewis's call, Tynged yr Iaith (The Fate of the Language), was originally a radio broadcast and then a pamphlet which became highly influential in the subsequent development of the fortunes of the Welsh language.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Where is it ? No. 35

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I was trying to make up my mind whether to blog the above intersection and give out stink about all that was wrong with it, when the idea occurred to me to include it in the Where is it series instead. So I anonymised it and included it above.

It's not really a difficult one and when it's solved I'll turn this into a slightly longer blog post.

Answers in comments below please.


Well, as I said in the comment below, that didn't last long. Correct solution from @Wayupnorth.

It's the M1/M50 intersection with the M50 continuation (R 139) going off to the right towards Coolock/Clare Hall.

An unholy mess, if ever there was one.

For example, consider the complication in coming from airport heading south, via M1, and exiting via M50 extension (R139) for Malahide.

You enter M1 from airport in the leftmost lane. You then have to quickly wiggle your way into the CENTRE lane for the Malahide exit, despite the fact that you are actually turning left. When this first came in I ended up twice going west/south on the M50. Hair raising stuff.

To see all the quiz items click on the "Where?" tag below.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Tracking Dublin

Kevin Whelan
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The 2015 Gilbert Lecture, in Dublin City Library and Archive, was given this year by Kevin Whelan. The subject was Dublin as a Global City but this formal title gave little indication of the roller coaster ride that was to follow.

The angle was the waxing and waning of Dublin over time, but from a global perspective. The question asked was, how important was Dublin on the world scene and why.

Roman Times

Kevin started way back before Roman times when we really didn't figure at all. When the Romans finally got as far as Britain, it seems they didn't fancy going any further into what was to them a hostile and cold environment compared with the Mediterranean. And, anyway, if they overshot they might fall off the edge of the flat earth of its day.

It was only with the coming of the Vikings that Dublin assumed a global importance, becoming a hub for their conquests and trade along the west coast of Europe. In recent times there has been a tendency to stress the benefits of the arrival of the Vikings, but Kevin left us under no illusions. These guys were slavers and ruthless. They considered themselves superior, under Thor, to the milksop Christians they encountered along the way. Generally speaking they killed the men and took the women home as slaves. Hence the high proportion of Irish DNA in Iceland, for example.

The Viking empire waned during the 11th century (and, despite the speed and broad scope of his talk, Kevin even managed to mention Diarmat mac Máel na mBó and the Cavanaughs.)

When the Normans came (1169), the focus turned from being outward and coastal to fixating on Britain and to some extent Europe beyond it.

The next point of inflexion was after 1492 when Ireland became a link between Europe and "newly discovered" America.

After 1800 its importance faded as the focus shifted to London as capital of the UK and as trade/transport restrictions were imposed on seagoing traffic.

There was a further recovery after 1900, both in global transport and also in the city's world image through its literary figures who part colonised the English language and turned it into something of their own.

Finally, Dublin opened up again as a Euro/American hub as US giants set up European headquarters here in their commercial/digital assault on Europe. And, Dublin now ranks well in many international league tables even despite the recent crisis/downturn.

Larry O'Toole

I haven't really summarised the presentation but rather given a small flavour.

Kevin was introduced by Deputy Lord Mayor, Larry O'Toole, who (humorously) compared Kevin's many qualifications and achievements to his own "two years in a tech". Larry not only enlivened his own introduction but carried on from the sidelines providing a foil to Kevin's many humorous references to Dublin's distant southside. Larry is from Wicklow and Kevin from Wexford, but no doubt they both consider themselves honorary Dubs at this stage.

Margaret Hayes

In opening the proceedings earlier in the evening, City Librarian Margaret Hayes gave us a rundown on the Library Service's packed programme of events for the year. She then handed over to Larry to launch the book version of last year's Gilbert Lecture.

Larry O'Toole

Larry then did a great promo for the library service and promptly launched the book.

Séamas Ó Maitiú & Larry O'Toole

Last year's lecture was entitled Alleys, annals and anecdotes: a new look at Gilbert's History of Dublin. It was given by Séamas Ó Maitiú, and, if you are interested, you can see it and some previous Gilbert Lectures here.

Kevin Whelan's presentation is expected to be uploaded to the same site in the course of the next few weeks.

L-R: Máire Kennedy, Librarian Dublin & Irish Collections;
Kevin Whelan, Michael Smurfitt Director of the Keough Notre
Dame Centre Dublin;
Mary Hanafin, Councillor, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown;
Margaret Hayes, City Librarian;
Larry O'Toole, Deputy Lord Mayor & City Councillor.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Leaba

Gerry Adams
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I am getting totally pissed off with the token use of bastard Irish.

As this is an equal opportunities blog, I should mention previous criticism of both FG an FF in an earlier post, just in case anyone should think I'm having a pop at Gerry Adams and him alone. I have also taken various bodies (eg) to task over their appalling use of the language in the past.

But Gerry Adams gives it an almost daily trashing in his tweets and this is coming from someone who purports to hold the language dear and have its compulsory use enshrined in Northern Ireland legislation. I needn't point out that pushing the language in the North is even more fraught than promoting it in the South. This is particularly the case when the language is being politicised and used as a silver bullet in the (decommissioned?) armed struggle for Irish unity. Nelson McCausland can testify more eloquently than I in this regard.

I have included a few of Gerry's recent tweets below to illustrate my point. Correct versions of booboos are shown in italics below the tweets.

oíche chiúin, oíche Mhic Dé, beannachtaí

Daidí na Nollag, sásta

an spéir, an ghrian, ar fad

an ghaoith láidir, an ghrian gheal


oíche, bonne nuit

Now I know the Taoiseach has stated that the next election will effectively be a choice between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, and his Minister for Foreign Affairs has endorsed this most forcefully in a very gender specific and possibly personally offensive way.

I really am surprised, however, that the Taoiseach, who is reputed to be a fluent Irish speaker, seems to be descending to the level of Gerry Adams's Irish in the current phoney election campaign.

Reproduced below is his entry in the Charlie Hebdo book of condolence at the French embassy.

At least he got his French right, unlike Gerry in the last of the tweets above.

muintir na hÉireann, as ucht na tragóide uafásaí

All this garbage Irish reminds me forcibly of George Orwell's NEWSPEAK in 1984. The purpose of that restricted version of the English language was to limit people's ability to think outside a very restrictive and politically correct range of concepts. Current English usage, not only in social media, but in the mainstream media, is already sadly well along this road.

The current use of Irish in many quarters is simply a bad and clumsy transliteration of English. It strips the language of its richness and historical resonances and limits its net contribution to alternative and challenging viewpoints.

If the Irish language is not going to be taken seriously and treated with respect it should just be abandoned to the dustbin of history.

And the title of this post?

Well, the leaba is where Gerry tells us he ends up every night and it is one word in Irish that he always spells correctly.

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Monday, January 12, 2015


Some thoughts on the European Union, provoked by their losing the plot in the upcoming transatlantic treaty (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

The Union started out as the more restricted European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952. This had the laudable aim of integrating these two sectors, so vital in war, across the economies of those Western European states which had been involved in two world wars and were then only emerging from the second of those.

That war had essentially been Germany against the rest and after the war the occupying forces made sure, as they saw it, that Germany would never rise again to dominate the continent. The wrote a constitution that was so involved that it is a wonder that Germany was able to do anything at all under it.

But beyond this others saw the need to neutralise the war industries and so the ECSC was born.

It was originally intended that the UK would participate but they were still suffering from the delusions of empire and did not have much respect for the other potential members. So they stayed out.

The next major leap was in 1958 with the Treaty of Rome (European Economic Community - EEC). Again the British stayed out and eventually set up their own European Free Trade Area (EFTA).

Also lurking in the background was the British perception of their "special relationsip" with the USA, which they valued above all else.

When they eventually decided to apply to join the EEC they were repulsed as likely spoilers. I think De Gaulle got that about right.

The lack of British membership meant that the Community was dominated by the French and adopted a very French character. For us it also meant that Ireland was not a member as our very high dependence on British trade would not have made much sense of our membership without that of Britain. Meanwhile, we set about reforming our own economy in anticipation of joining at some future date.

When the immediate post-war rationale for the Communities had more or less run its course, a new rationale emerged. Europe was now to further integrate to respond to "le défi americain", or the postwar dominance of the USA on the world stage. This dominance was seen to be facilitated by the scale of USA production and of its home market, along with the dollar assuming the role of a reserve currency.

Britain and Ireland finally joined in 1972. Britain ditched its old economic allies in EFTA which became very much a shell organisation.

Ireland's heavy dependence on the UK in the trade and finance areas were cited in support of our paralleling the UK application. But Ireland was also sold the idea on two added scores.

One was the benefits which would accrue to the agricultural sector from the EEC's Common Agricultural Policy (which was the only common policy in force at the time). That policy was based on income and market support and offered a way of escape from Britain's cheap food policy which had crippled our agricultural sector. Significant benefits were expected to accrue to individual farmers and the ensuing wealth trickle through the economy.

The other was the promise of a market of around 250 million people which would allow Irish industry to benefit from niche markets and long production runs.

The then Irish Foreign Minister, Patrick Hillery, expressed these benefits as "the CAP and the long runs".

There does not seem to have been any significant ideological or political motive to Ireland joining. This is borne out by the way the case for subsequent treaty and other amendments was presented. It was either in terms of financial benefits or losses, pure and simple.

A number of things have happened since those days. The policy remit of the Community has expanded enormously. The Commission which was designed as the guardian of the "Community Spirit" and the interests of the smaller members, has been captured by big business at the same time as its powers relative to the rest of the institutions have expanded, particularly in the area of external trade.

The powers of the European Parliament have increased from being purely consultative at the outset to its current participation in co-decision making across a widening range of policy areas. It is not, however, a sufficient counterweight to the centralised powers of the Commission and the Council of Ministers.

As the Community further evolved into a Union (of sorts), decisions tended to be taken on "political" grounds without due attention to economic logic or long term consequences. The Union prided itself on its respect for democracy and the rule of law, but in its rush to expand it admitted some dodgy states, consoling itself that membership itself would bring them to, and keep them on, the path of virtue.

Then there was the very premature launch of the Euro. This was a single currency area comprising economies at different stages of development and with varying dependencies outside the Union, and, worst of all, the area did not have any institutional redistributive mechanism built in. Economic integration at least had a vigorous regional policy behind it. Studies from earlier decades had made it clear that any currency union would need a similar structure with the possibility of providing significant financial transfers.

In the event, there was no such thing. The ECB was not structured to allow for this and has been going through contortions since the start of the current crisis bending the rules in an attempt to simulate this effect intra vires.

Nevertheless, as we saw in Ireland, Community solidarity was non-existent when it came to the Irish state being faced with stratospheric levels of compensation when an, admittedly over-expanded, banking sector went belly-up in an international meltdown. Although the blame could be widely spread, the remedy was forced on Ireland as the fault lines in the constitution of the European Central Bank became apparent.

Now we have this unbelievable treaty to be signed between the EU and the USA. Whatever about any of its more orthodox free trade provisions, it is ceding complete sovereignty, at both national and EU level, to the big corporates.

In what may soon become the "old days", a nation state could take unilateral action on, say, health grounds, or to protect some vital interest such as the environment. If commercial interests suffered as a result of these actions then it was just too bad. The wider interest had to prevail. Now, as I understand it, when a state, or the Union, takes a decision which affects the interests, or even the potential interests, of a commercial entity it has to compensate that entity. This effectively means that lots of actions in the public interest will simply become unaffordable. It is a sellout to big business along the lines of that already ceded to the banking sector and which was no small factor in the recent global financial meltdown.

The Union has shown it is not up to protecting itself from le défi americain, quite the reverse. It is now getting into bed with the enemy (within and without). The Commission has been captured by the over-financed lobbies of industry and this has to be rolled back. The Union needs to take back from the Commission its delegated powers to negotiate trade agreements and the objectionable aspects of this emerging deal need to be rejected by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

And the Union itself then needs to take stock of why it is there in the first place.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015


Eileen Griffiths

I first met Eileen through my cousin Carmel, who had been in school with her in Balla, Co. Mayo, many years ago. I only got to know her any way well in more recent years when Carmel, who lives in France, came home on visits, stayed with Eileen, and I encountered Eileen when I met up with Carmel in her house.

Eileen was a warm, generous, gentle and very civilised lady.

We shared an interest in the Civil Service where she spent a career in the Department of Education and I in the Department of Finance. We also shared an interest in local and family history. Eileen was engaged in a permanent search for her ancestors who she was prising, one by one, out of a forgotten past.

Her health had been failing in recent times but she appears to have died as a result of a simple domestic accident. Such are the quirks of fate.

Eileen at rest in St. John the Baptist church, Clontarf

She was buried from St. John the Baptist church in Clontarf. That church has some resonances for me as my grandfather was baptised there in 1870 and my cousin Nuala (RIP) was married there in 1954. I also found the administration there most helpful when I was chasing up church registers for my family history.

It didn't disappoint with Eileen's farewell. The priest was very down to earth and, though he hadn't known Eileen personally, had sounded out the family and included some very apposite remarks in the service. He concelebrated the funeral mass with a priest who was a longtime friend of Eileen's family.

Eileen's son, John, delivered an emotional eulogy which touched all those present. The hymns, in English and Irish, were beautifully sung and accompanied. John observed afterwards that Eileen would not only have approved of, but would have enjoyed the service.

A lovely lady and a sad loss.


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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Man on Bridge

Click on any image for a larger version

I have set out the background to, and my involvement in, the Man on the Bridge project in a separate posting.

The project organisers have now mounted an exhibition of ALL the photos submitted by the public, all 3,400 and more of them. This runs in the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar until 8 January 2015. As I had submitted some photos I wanted very much to see the exhibition and see if I could find my photos in it.

First things first, so I signed the visitors' book on the way in (in case I forgot on the way out) and then left a comment on the way out as well.

These are the photos from 1930, when Arthur started out, to 1956.

And these are the continuation, covering from 1955 to 1977. Arthur is estimated to have taken well over 200,000 photos, but no negatives survive, and the current archive consists of prints from all over the country and beyond which have been submitted by the public in the course of the last year.

To be frank, I was a little sceptical of the organisers' claims to be displaying all of the 3.400 plus prints submitted and I doubted I'd be able to find the six prints I submitted myself and the one submitted by cousin Gerry.

How wrong I was. You can see the result above. All seven prints, as taken from various points in the exhibition's display and put together above for convenience.

There was a small alcove, almost like a side chapel, devoted to Arthur and his family. To the right of the big picture of him are smaller ones of himself and other family members.

To the left of the big picture, with a wall all to herself, is Doreen, Arthur's wife. She did all the backroom stuff as far as the photography was concerned. She developed and printed the films, sorted the prints, and lined them up for collection or posting. She also took care of the administration and finances. And she raised a family at the same time. Arthur was not involved as he spent all day, 365 days a year, in town taking photographs. So Doreen certainly deserves at least one wall to herself in this exhibition.

In his later years, Arthur took to Polaroid, and his camera, which can be seen in many photos of him on the bridge, is currently hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the exhibition.

The project has revolved around a documentary on Arthur, compiled by El Zorrero films, and screened recently by RTÉ. You can view it on the RTÉ player until 18 January. If I learn of any more permanent arrangements I'll post them here.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


My great grandfather in the negative

There is something very odd going on in the world around me.

Some time ago, a neighbour told me he had taken some glass plate negatives to Dublin's Favourite Printing Company in town and asked them to scan/print them. They tried but said they only came out black. I subsequently printed them for him (or rather scanned them and gave him positive digital images which he got printed).

What had clearly happened here was that they tried to scan them in a conventional reflective scanner (how you scan documents etc.) and did not realise that the light had to go through negatives rather than being reflected off them.

A few days ago, the same neighbour brought an old negative into town to get it scanned and printed. Dublin's Favourite Printing Company, who by this time had clearly got the message, said they didn't do negatives. A well known camera shop, which I used to patronise in my own youth and which he contacted by phone, said they'd need to see the negative, which was not entirely unreasonable. Another well known camera shop (which has been around for yonks) took one look at the negative and said it couldn't be scanned and that there was no point in going anywhere else because they all had the same machines. It would have to be done "manually" which my neighbour took to mean in a darkroom with an enlarger.

My neighbour then (belatedly) contacted me to see if I might have any luck with this amazingly difficult negative. I asked him if he could see an image on it. Yes, a family group. So.

I got the negative from him and scanned it - no problem. It was unusual, but not in any way that affected it being scanned. It was harder than normal film; it looked silver on one side; it had signs of deterioration around the edges. Interesting but irrelevant. And I gathered it was quite old.

I'm not sure what was going on here. Is it possible that photo shops have scanners that don't scan negatives? Is it that in this age of digital some people, even in photo shops, don't know what a negative is (consigned to the fate of the old phonograph tubes)?

It's only as I am writing this that I remember doing a (very reasonable) deal with Hacketts (Baggot St) about 10 years ago to scan a load of rolls of negative film onto discs for me. Maybe that is the solution. Go to a sophisticated provider like Hacketts and forget all this photo shop thing.

Nothing like the digital age to deprecate the past.

My love affair with the camera

My great grandfather in the positive

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Cover of book containing entries from the finalists
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As this will be my 500th blog post on this blog I am glad to have something positive to report.

The other evening (15/12/2014) I attended the final event in the Battle of Clontarf Millennium Celebrations. This was a book launch and the presentation of prizes in the millennium's creative writing competition for local primary schools.

Every finalist, and there were lots of them in the different class categories, got exactly the same prize. A copy of the book and a selection box. But what a book. The entries form the finalists themselves had been brought together in a book entitled "We Are Writers", published by the Clontarf Historical Society and the Raheny Heritage Society. So the creativity here extended beyond that of the competitors alone.

In addition the overall category winners also received vouchers for Easons - up to €600 worth of vouchers were presented.

Barbara Tarrant & Collette Gill

MC for the evening was the ubiquitous organiser of everything, Collette Gill, Chairperson of the Clontarf 2014 Committee. You can see her here with her clipboard as she invites one of the judges, Barbara Tarrant, to address the audience of parents and children packed into the Indigo Lounge of the Clontarf Castle Hotel.

Daragh Moran & Barbara Tarrant

Before going any further, I have to declare an interest here. The photo shows Barbara presenting his book to Daragh Moran, who happens to be a first cousin twice removed. The removal bit just means he's way younger than I am. Given that I was concentrating on trying to photograph every winner in this fast moving pageant, I hadn't noticed Daragh until I saw his mother there at the end of the evening (and yes, she's only once removed).

Daragh's entry consisted of a brief account of the battle, in (almost) rhyming couplets.

Kay Lonergan & Robyn Gill

The youngest judge is Robyn Gill, a transition year student, who has already had two short stories published in the Irish Times. She is seen here accepting a presentation from Kay Lonergan, Chairperson of the Clontarf Historical Society.

Of the entries published in the book just over 40% are from girls. Not a huge imbalance and it may not have any particular significance. I suppose these bloody battles may be more appealing to boys, though one of the entries was actually from a female warrior. Indeed, if you look at the 2014 re-enactment of the battle, you'll see there was no shortage of female warriors taking part.

Morgan O'Reilly

The third of the four judges, Morgan O'Reilly, said he was very encouraged by the sense of community permeating the range of celebrations and was particularly happy with the standard of entries in this competition.

The range of styles, inventiveness and imagination in the entries was spectacular.

There was a lot of time travel, much magic, family correspondence, live tv reporting, and, as Collette remarked, even the rewriting of history - the licence of youth, no doubt. There was a variety of styles from prose (purple and otherwise) to poetry (including acrostics).

You have to remember that the children's ages were from 7 to 12 years, and you wouldn't always know from the entries alone which end of the spectrum you were dealing with. Some of the younger entries were really excellent.

Douglas Appleyard (on right)

The fourth judge, Louise Melinn, could not be present due to exams, so Douglas Appleyard, Chairperson of the Raheny Heritage Society, stood in and presented the final batch of books.

And as we're on the subject of competition, this photographer (me) had serious competition all evening from parents taking advantage of the miracles of modern technology to immortalise the achievements of their children .

I'll leave you with an enhanced glimpse of the picture on the cover of the book. This was the work of Aoife Tynan, from St. Brigid's Girls National School, Killester, who won first place in the third and fourth class category in the Battle of Clontarf Art Competition, held earlier in the year in this same venue.

If you are interested in some of the other events during the year's celebrations you can see a report on the 1014 Retrospective event, along with links to those individual events which I managed to attend, here.

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