I’m famous now – mentioned in an Irishman’s Diary in the Irish Times

Well, well, well! That is a surprise. My name and fame is on the up. It is not everyone who gets mentioned in An Irishman’s Diary in the Irish Times but it is nice to see one’s name published in one of the main opinion pieces in the paper of record in Ireland – especially when it was unexpected.

Last week, Frank McNally, the main writer of An Irishman’s Diary wrote about my home town of Cill Choca (Kilcock). He had participated in a 5km race organised by St. Coca’s Athletic Club.

The Road Less Raced – An Irishman’s Diary about ballads, barbershops, and Teresa Brayton

The Old Bog Road 10k is, I believe, an athletics event waiting to happen. It would start in Kilcock, Co Kildare, then proceed westward towards Enfield before turning north onto the aforementioned thoroughfare, the most celebrated stretch of soft tarmac in the history of Irish ballad-making.

From there, I suppose, it would just turn around again – the OBR is a dead-end according to maps – and go back to where it started.

But until such an event comes to pass, the next best thing is the annual St Coca’s 5k race, which I took part in last weekend.

That too starts and finishes in Kilcock. And although it doesn’t go anywhere near The Old Bog Road, it does centre on a Brayton Avenue, which is surely named for the woman who wrote the famous song.

We’ll return to her shortly.

First the other female to whom the race pays incidental tribute. For it had somehow escaped me until now that, among Ireland’s countless ancient saints, there was one called Coca. Okay, she was probably Cuach in the original Irish. But as anglicised, she sounds more like a fashion designer or an exotic dancer than a nun.

A nun she was, however, and a well-connected one, being a sister to St Kevin of Glendalough.

And not only did she establish a church that gave its name to a town (Cill Choca), she is also now commemorated by an athletic club and, through it, by the annual 5,000-metre race that hundreds of us ran last Friday, a form of penance she could hardly have imagined back in the 6th century.

Speaking of penance, I noticed while visiting Kilcock that the surrounding parishes include one called Painstown.

Our race-route didn’t take us through it, as it happens – it just felt that way, especially in the last mile.

So despite my earlier suggestion, I was glad the 10k hadn’t been invented yet.

The Old Bog Road doesn’t run through Painstown either, apparently.

But there is plenty of torment in the eponymous song, including even a mention of “blisters” (of hands rather than feet).

Mostly it’s about mental anguish, as the writer combines three classic themes of Irish balladry – exile, lost love, and a dead mother – into one tear-jerking epic.

Teresa Brayton (née Boylan) was born in 1868, near the road she immortalised. She also died there, in 1943. But in between, she spent much of her life in New York. And although she’s remembered now, if at all, for that single song, she was very prominent in Irish-American life once, known primarily as a poet and writer.

Before and after 1916, she was one of the voices of nationalism, with Roger Casement being another of her best-known subjects.

Still, a posthumous appreciation in The Irish Times also described some of her lyrics as “racy” – not in the 5k sense – so she must have had a comic side too.

Despite its flat roads and accents, north Kildare has reached some great heights of lyricism over the years, thanks to the likes of Brayton and, more recently, of Christy Moore and Luka Bloom, from just down the road in Prosperous.

But somewhat more desperately, I noticed on Friday that Kilcock’s claims to fame also include having the “world’s tallest barber’s pole”.

At least that’s what the sign says alongside a red-and-white striped mast that ascends to about the same height as the adjacent two-storey houses, maybe 8 metres.

Now even allowing that the competition might not be a crowded field, I wondered if such a modest structure could really be the world’s tallest.

And alas, it seems not to be.

As far as I can establish, the Eiffel Tower of barbershop poles is in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, and rises to an oxygen-thinning “73 feet”, or about triple the height of the Kildare one.

That may not be the only gauntlet the Oregonians are throwing down to Kilcock.

The same Portland suburb, I gather, hosts an annual event called “Ballad Town USA”.  In fact, that’s why the pole is there – the contest is dedicated to the category of singing known as the barbershop quartet.

But I’m not sure this is something Kilcock would want to emulate.

Whatever about the town building a bigger pole, the ballads of North Kildare would hardly lend themselves to the barbershop format. I’m imagining The Old Bog Road performed a capella in jaunty harmony by men in fancy dress.

And to be honest, that’s not a road I’d want to go down.

This deserves a letter

I was delighted to see my hometown being written of in the main newspaper in Ireland. I felt though that Mr. McNally could have mentioned some of the other things that Cill Choca is famous for so I took my keyboard and sent a letter to the letters’ editor of the Irish Times.

(I should mention before you read any further, that I mistook Frank McNally for Frank McDonald, the former environment editor of the Irish Times. It seems to be something that happens often.)

A chara,

It was a pleasure to read of Frank McDonald’s description of Cill Choca and Theresa Brayton. As someone who hails from the area but is no longer resident there may I add a few more items of history? McDonald failed to mention that President de Valera gave the oration at Theresa Brayton’s grave. She was friends with many national leaders.

He noted that saint Coca is not well known but if you visited the town you would quickly see that she left her mark with many buildings etc. named in her honour – St. Coca’s church, Scoil Choca Naofa, Saint Coca’s Scout Hall, St. Coca’s Athletic Club and Café Coca. The people of Kilcock are very fond of saint Coca but unfortunately there is a tendency to pronounce her name like half the name of a certain fizzy drink. It should be pronounced as “cook” in cookie is pronounced. Cook-ah, not coke-ah.

Kilcock has many other famous claims to fame including being the only place in Ireland where a river, a national road, a canal, a railway and a local road all run parallel to each other for over half a kilometre. A cycleway has recently been added alongside the canal so the accolades continue to increase. It is a claim to fame that never ceases to underwhelm people.

More interestingly though, just north of the Kilcock, lies Larchill Arcadian Garden, a ‘ferme ornée’ or ornamental farm, and is the only surviving, near complete, garden of its type in Europe.

Kilcock was the birth-place of many of the races that are now run in Punchestown. Kilcock was famous for centuries as a racing town but the races outgrew their venue, the bánóg, so they had to be moved to Punchestown in the 1930s. Back in 1993, Kilcock had the dubious honour of being the location of the largest IRA bomb factory ever discovered. Many bombs in the north and Britain in the early 1990s might have been prepared in Kilcock. In 1995, Kilcock was the first town in Ireland to ever hold a local referendum and in 1999 it was also the first community in Ireland to successfully resist a proposal to build an incinerator just west of the town.

Unfortunately the Celtic Tiger did not seem to improve the fortunes of Kilcock. As children, we Kilcock people used to boast that we had something special in our midst – a bubblegum factory. Leaf, later Zed Candy, churned out all sorts of sweets including bubblegums and Mister Freezes. As a result, the town used to smell of bubblegum. It was a very sweet, sticky kind of aroma. It is sadly missed. The factory shut in late 2008 and production of these goodies was moved to China. I only hope that a small town there is shrouded by the same aroma and is not choking on pollution from dirty factories.

Oh, one last claim to fame. Kilcock was the venue for the replacement programme for Glenroe. It was called On Homeground. It was nice to look at on television but its shooting caused traffic chaos with very long queues of traffic stuck on the road along the canal with no escape for motorists. It might have been why RTÉ did not continue it. Tis a pity really. The idea was that On Homeground would be a rural soap opera. The reality is that Kilcock is now a far-flung suburb of Dublin. Again, another reason RTÉ may have stopped the show.

Seanán Ó Coistín

(formerly of Cill Choca)



I waited with impatience to see if my letter would be published the next day or the day after. Alas it was not…


Something else, even more special, than my letter was published.

McNally chose to reply to my letter with another mention of Cill Choca in An Irishman’s Diary article – and he mentioned me twice in the article!

Trains, plains, and bicycle wheels – An Irishman’s Diary about the straight lines of Kilcock and the circles of Flann O’Brien

While writing about Kilcock and the Old Bog Road earlier this week, it seems I neglected to mention an even greater infrastructural wonder in that Kildare town.

I have only belatedly noticed it thanks to Seanán Ó Coistín, a former resident now exiled in Germany, where he is clearly still haunted by the smell of bubblegum that long pervaded his native Kilcock, courtesy of the late lamented Leaf factory.

Local children used to boast of this everywhere they went, he recalls.

But bubblegum aside, he also points out that Kilcock “is the only place in Ireland where a river, a national road, a canal, a railway, and local road all run parallel to each other”. Then he adds: “It is a claim to fame that never ceases to underwhelm people.” Despite which, I myself was sufficiently whelmed to look it up on Google maps.

And sure enough, not only do all five of those land and water routes run parallel for about half a kilometre on the east side of Kilcock, so does the Meath-Kildare county boundary, which mediates between the main road and the river until the latter swerves violently, taking the border with it, to avoid the town.

The confluence of routes reminded of Paul Simon’s song about the “Mississippi Delta, shining like a National guitar”.

And of Joni Mitchell, seeing six jet trails in the sky somewhere and thinking: “It was the hexagram of the heavens, it was the strings of my guitar”.

But the trails can hardly have been parallel in Mitchell’s case, or they could not also form a hexagram. And the strings of the Mississippi Delta would be too slack to play a tune on.

Whereas, for this section at least, the map of Kilcock is as tightly strung as the neck of a Fender Stratocaster.

If anything, the area’s unique levels of harmony are increasing, because Seanán tells me that a bike lane has recently been added alongside the canal. So never mind the Old Bog Road, Kilcock might be considered the spiritual home of another famous tarmac ballad, Frank O’Donovan’s anthem to unity of purpose, We’re on the One Road.

Moving from straight lines to circular ones, meanwhile, also in my email this week was the above photograph. It’s of a sign at the rear of Rathmines Post Office in Dublin and its true significance might be lost on casual readers, but not on Flann O’Brien fans. It was certainly not lost on the eagle-eyed correspondent, a certified Flannorak, who sent it to me.

In O’Brien’s metaphysical murder mystery, The Third Policeman, most of the action takes place in a surreal underworld where humans and bicycles are subject to molecular interchange, with disturbing results.

At the effect’s most harmless, humans with a high percentage of bike spend long periods leaning against walls or standing on roadsides with one foot propped up on the kerb.

At its worst, the phenomenon results in such incidents as Michael Gilhaney’s bicycle, an estimated 48 per cent Gilhaney, scandalising the parish by parking itself outside the door of an attractive new female school teacher, in such a way that she will mistake it for her own and jump on.

Postal workers occupy an especially high-risk category, as Sergeant Pluck explains.

He estimates the local postman’s bike quotient at 71 per cent and despairs: “There is very little hope of ever getting his number down below fifty again.”

So the sergeant would be in no way surprised by the sign in Rathmines post office, which is clearly aimed at the bikes themselves, not their owners.

“Did you never see a bicycle leaning against the dresser of a warm kitchen when it is pouring outside,” he asks the novel’s unnamed narrator. “I did.” “Not very far away from the fire?” “Yes”. “Near enough to the family to hear the conversation?” “Yes.” “Not a thousand miles from where they keep the eatables?”

The already astonished narrator becomes further amazed: “I did notice that. You do not mean to say that these bicycles eat food?” Sergeant Pluck replies: “They were never seen doing it […] All I know is that the food disappears.”

This and other depravities condemns him to spend eternity asking: “Is is about a bicycle?” And everything is, of course, although the upcoming International Flann O’Brien Society Conference in Salzburg begs to differ. The event promises a full week of talks on a very wide range of themes.

But of particular note is the opening address on July 17th, which carries the controversial even provocative – title: “This is not about a bicycle”.

On behalf of Sergeant Pluck, I strongly doubt the veracity of that statement.

An unexpected surprise

While I have had many letters published in the Irish Times and other newspapers, this is the first time that I have been mentioned in An Irishman’s Diary in the Irish Times. It was unexpected and satisfying.

In case you want to see the parallel river, road, cycle path, canal, railway and local road, look at this map of Cill Choca here.

It is not the first time that the wonder of parallel routes in Cill Choca has been mentioned in the media before. The Leinster Leader and Today FM discussed it.

By the way, I am not exiled in Germany à la Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba. I live in Trier of my own volition as it is cheaper than living in Luxembourg where I work and also it is where my girlfriend is from.

Let’s see how I may be mentioned in the Irish Times in future.

Cill Choca, Coca, Frank McNally, history, Irish Times, Kilcock

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(Kein) Fortschritt mit Deutsch – (no) progress with German

As I have mentioned here before, I have been learning German for over a year now. Unfortunately I have not progressed so far despite a lot of effort. There are many reasons for this but the main one is ironically the reason why I am learning German in the first place – my girlfriend.

Here are some things that I have done to learn German. I used both classical and modern methods to learn German. All of them are helpful but none of them pushed me forward sufficiently to be able to converse fluently auf Deutsch.


This was the first application on my mobile telephone. It is very easy to use, fun, well-designed and free of charge. I used it while travelling on the bus to and from work as well as other occasions where I had time to kill.

Duolingo is very good but it has a big flaw – it does not encourage users to speak the language which is the most important language skill. I learned a lot of words from Duolingo and got a good idea about German grammar but I did not get to speak except for some words or phrases that users are asked to say. It does not encourage speaking which is what I want to do.

There was a REALLY annoying bug on Duolingo. It would offer one word for you to learn but then in a later question it would not accept the word that it taught earlier. I tried it a few times but each time it said that my answer was wrong. This really annoyed me so I decided to uninstall the application from my telephone. I had completed the course twice. You have to keep the lessons active and complete in order for all of the lessons to be highlighted.

So in conclusion, while Duolingo is easy to use, looks great and teaches you words and some grammar, it doesn’t get users to speak which is the main way to learn languages. Also its annoying that it does not accept words that it teaches. I used it as much as I could but did not get me talking German. It was about as far as I could use it so it was no loss to uninstall it and move onto something else.

German classes

Since I now live in Germany and I was not satisfied with the applications and other resources that I was using to learn German, I decided to enrol in a German class. It was for eight weeks on Saturday mornings.

The class was at the A2 level which is for people with a little amount of German. There were ten people in the class from many countries – Korea, Poland, Nepal, Mexico, Cuba, Russia, Syria, Colombia, and me from Ireland. The students had different levels of German but we were all false beginners.

While I did learn some things in the class, unfortunately I was unhappy with my progress at the end of the eight classes. The reasons are simple. The school focuses on German grammar which for me is not very important. Don’t get me wrong – grammar is important but it is not the main thing that I needed. I wanted to learn conversational German.

The other reason why I did not like the class very much and why I did not learn so much is that the teacher annoyed me. She had a deep voice like a man, and she spoke too much, not giving the students enough opportunities to practice speaking. This was a disaster for language learning.

Needless to say I was disappointed with this class and chose not to do any more classes there. Their emphasis on German grammar ruined it for me.

Vocabulary stickers in my apartment

A nice language learning aid that I discovered earlier this year were German stickers to put on things and places around the apartment. There are different companies making these but the best ones that I found were Vocabulary Stickers.

The pack has four sheets of stickers in it for many household items and places such as the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom, knives, spoons, forks, clothes, shoes, etc.

It was fun to walk around my apartment placing the stickers on various things. Visitors to the apartment find them amusing. They think it is hilarious to see stickers aroud the kitchen and in the fridge showing the German names of things.

While nice to use stickers like this, the truth of the matter is that they do not teach German. They only teach the name of particular items. They are fun but they only offer a superficial knowledge of German.

The Vocabulary Stickers have some odd choices such as a sticker for skis. How many people have skis at home?


I bought an audio course last year called Glossika. It has many lessons but I found that the lessons are cold and a bit flawed. Some of the German translations do not match up with the English phrases. While it is a good system, I found them somewhat unenjoyable.

Another product that I discovered is Earworms audio lessons. They offer lessons in a few languages. The magic of their lessons is that they base their lessons in music. The idea is that languages are better learned if they are learned with music. The music makes the language stick in your head/ear like an earworm, hence the name.

I think that this idea is true. I bought two volumes of lessons at first and then a third volume. There are ten lessons in each volume. The lessons consist of a woman and man talking to each other while music is played behind them. The voices are warm and have a hint of flirtiness. It is clear that the actors are smiling when they talk unlike the Glossika lessons.

One nice touch, as an Irish person, is that Irish music is used for one of the tunes.

I like these lessons a lot. They are fun, short and they encourage the learner to repeat and learn. The lessons are focused on everyday situations such as asking directions, booking an hotel room, food and eating, numbers, shopping etc. They are very useful.

They need to be listened to frequently in order to learn from them. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to listen to them frequently enough.

The biggest problem why I am not learning German

The main reason why I am not progressing in German is nothing to do with the resources or the quality of classes. It is actually to do with my girlfriend. She loves to talk English. She finds it easier to speak with me in English rather than trying to speak to me in German that I will find difficult, or maybe impossible, to understand.

The reason I want to learn German is to be able to speak with her family and friends, but since my German is not good enough yet, she speaks with me in English. If I never speak German with her, I will never improve my German! It is the horrible vicious circle.

I am slowly, slowly, slowly learning and improving but for all the efforts that I have done and money that I have spent on lessons, books, and classes, my level of German should be much better.

I need to change tactics and talk more and hope for a reply in German from a gorgeous German lady 🙂

classes, Deutsch, Duolingo, Earworms, German, language learning, stickers, Vocabulary Stickers

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Funny but not as good as the original show

My girlfriend and I went to see Baywatch over the weekend. We knew what it would be about but we didn’t know what the story of the film would be. When I was 10 to 12 years of age, Baywatch the programme was broadcast on television every Saturday evening. It was a young boy’s dream – gorgeous, blonde women running along a beach in revealing swimsuits. The catchy theme song also made it exciting and memorable. Those days, people my age would talk all about it the following Monday when we were in school again. So this film had a lot to live up to in order to match my memories of the show.

Unfortunately it didn’t. Nevertheless, it was amusing in its own way.

The plot

There are a few stories in the film:

  • life on the beach and regular life guard duties,
  • the hostility between Mitch, the head life guard, and a new recruit, Matt Brody, who thinks he is all that and a bag of chips,
  • the recruitment competition for new life guards,
  • the funny, minor story of the awkward new recruit Ronnie Greenbaum who is chubby and unattractive and who fancies the hot female life guard, C J Parker,
  • the murders of three people in the bay and the smuggling of hard drugs which are washing up on the beach,
  • figuring out who is responsible for the drugs and murders and solving the mystery.

All of these make for lots of drama, funny scenes, tension, explosive danger and action.

The cast is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as main life guard, Mitch Buchanan.

Zac Efron plays hot shot pretty boy Matt Brody.

The sultry Priyanka Chopra plays the evil bitch Victoria Leeds. She is excellent in this role.

Alexandria Daddario is life guard Summer Quinn.

Kelly Rohrback is hot life guard C J Parker.

Jon Bass plays awkward, chubby new recruit Ronnie Greenbaum.

Ilfanesh Hadera plays the role of experienced life guard, Stephanie Holden.

The funny parts

The film is mainly a comedy so there are many funny parts in the film. The main funny parts are:

  1. When the chubby new recruit, Ronnie, has a boner and gets his dick stuck between planks of wood on a sunbathing chair. He can’t move and he has to be assisted by C J Parker, the hot life guard that caused his erection in the first place. In the end a crowd gathers around to see the whole delicate procedure and they have a great old giggle looking at him stuck in the wood.
  2. The funniest part of the film is when Mitch and Matt Brody go to a morgue to look at the corpse of one of the murder victims. They want to discover the cause of death. While examining the body, Mitch tells Brody to lift up the scrotum and look under it to see if there were any cuts or pin pricks. Brody, unsurprisingly, is VERY reluctant to go anyway near another man’s sack, particularly a dead man’s sack. He goes looking for gloves and is nearly sick from having to handle the genitalia. The surprising thing about this is that the film actually showed the male genitalia close up in such detail. Normally mainstream films do not show the male genitalia. There was no reluctance to show a cock and balls for a few minutes. The point of it all is that Mitch is actually only kidding about the need for Brody to examine under the scrotum and really he just wanted to take a few photographs of Brody with his face beside a penis and scrotum to put on Facebook! It is very funny.
  3. There is another funny moment when Mitch and Brody are trying to disguise themselves in a beach resort kitchen. They have to find outfits so that they can blend in. Mitch finds a kitchen chef’s outfit – white shirt, trousers, apron and paper hat. Whereas Brody comes out of a room dressed in drag! He has a hat, a wig, a dress, high heels, makeup, etc. The whole shebang! It is unbelievable but it is very funny when he emerges dressed like that.

There are many funny dialogues and scenes in the film such as at the big party in the beach resort or when Summer Quinn and Brody talk about him looking at her boobs.

In terms of the look and feel of the movie, the actors and actresses look hot in their outfits and dresses on the beach and in the parties. It makes you long to be there.

There is a touching part towards the end of the film where Brody is stuck in a cage underwater and he is drowning. He is imagining being kissed by the Summer, the female body guard he likes. In the end, it turns out that it is Mitch that saves him, kisses him by giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation and rescues him.

The not so good parts

I am not a prude but there was a bit too much cursing and swearing in the dialogues. I curse myself so it is not something that enrages me but I found that the constant use of fuck in the dialogues took away from the film. It is meant to be a nice comedy set on a beach, not a violent, criminal thriller. Sure, people curse on the beach but the dialogue sometimes jarred with the vibe and setting.

The plot was a bit thin sometimes. The life guards on the beach became detectives. Normally they would be looking out for people in trouble in the water rather than looking for drugs being smuggled onshore. The main character, Mitch, loses his job and becomes a phone shop sales assistant in the space of a few minutes. It seems a bit too quick and unbelievable.

The ending is a bit too unbelievable. There is a huge firework display and Mitch uses one of the rockets to blast the bitch Victoria Leeds to smithereens. Dramatic yes, believable, not really. Maybe I am being harsh but it could be a bit more realistic.

The cameo roles by David Hasselhoff, the original Mitch Buchanan, were a bit lame. They could have been a bit stronger or funnier. It is a pity that Pamela Anderson could not have

been in it a bit more other than the short cameo she makes at the end of the film. She looks stunning as ever.

The verdict

It is a comedy. It is funny in many parts – particularly the examination of the scrotum in the morgue – but it is also a bit vulgar when it does not need to be. It is not a gangsta movie set in a ghetto or a war film where lots of swearing and cursing would be expected. The story is a bit thin in parts. Really it is a cop thriller dressed up as a beach story film. The life guards are less focused on problems in the ocean and on the beach than being detectives and solving murders and figuring out who is bringing drugs into the area.

It scores points for nice looking actors and actresses, for having funny scenes and for some of the jet-ski scenes on the ocean. It loses points for the thinness of the plot (it is just a thinly-disguised detective film) and on the frequent cursing which made it a bit too vulgar when it didn’t need to be.

If you want a giggle, go see it.

Baywatch, beach, California, comedy, David Hasselhoff, Dwayne Johnson, film, ocean, Pamela Anderson, The Rock, Zac Efron

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Unionists should not dislike the Irish language – letter to the editor

The Newsletter, the main unionist organ in the north of Ireland published a letter from me today. It follows from the flurry of messages and statements from unionist against an Irish-language act in the north of Ireland. Unfortunately, many unionists dislike and fear the Irish language. They see it as a weapon being used against them and so are completely opposed to an Irish-language act. This is one of the reasons why the talks about reforming an Executive in the north are at a deadlock.

Thankfully the Newsletter published my letter and it seems to have received a good response from readers, most of them unionists.

Here is the letter:

A chara,

It saddens me that unionists seem to fear and dislike the Irish language. There seems to be a thought abroad that the Irish language would diminish the Britishness of Northern Ireland.

Would anyone say that another Celtic language, Welsh, diminishes Britishness? So why should the Irish language? Allow me to show how a knowledge of Irish would in many ways enrich unionists’ sense of Britishness.

The Irish language is crucial to understanding Ireland. Everyone has a right to know more about the place they are from regardless of their nationality or political beliefs. The Irish language explains the meaning of people’s names and place names.

My name Seanán is pronounced shan-awn. It means the old wise man in Irish. The first part of the name is “sean” which is the Irish word for old. Where have unionists heard this word before? The Shankill Road! This came from the Irish sean chill which means old church. I am sure the people of the Shankill don’t mind knowing what the name of their area means.

Jim Shannon, the DUP MP for Strangford, has the same name as me – only his is a family name, rather than a first name. Shannon comes from Ó Seanán which means the grandson of Seanán. I am not sure if Mr. Shannon knows the origins of his name but he should not fear or dislike it just because it came from Irish.

Many unionists are loyal to the British monarchy. Everyone knows Charles, the Prince of Wales, but do they know his title in Welsh? It is Tywysog Cymru. Where might unionists have seen the word Tywysog before? It is the same as the Irish word Taoiseach. It means the chief, so Charles is the Chief of Wales.

As Irish and Welsh are related, knowing one helps to know the other.

If unionists fear the Irish language so much, why does the most unionist town in Ireland, Bangor, have the Irish name of the town, Beannchor, on its town crest?

There is nothing to fear or dislike about the Irish language. It helps to explain so much about Ireland. It is the property of all for the benefit and enjoyment of all.

Unionists should take ownership of it to understand more about where they are from and the connections between Ireland and Britain, particularly Scotland.

Ar aghaidh libh (go for it).

Is mise,

Seanán Ó Coistín, Trier, Germany

Bangor, Beannchor, British, Celtic languages, Gaeilge, Irish, letter, newspaper, Scotland, Seanán, Shankill Road, Shannon, unionists, Wales, Welsh

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Leo Varadkar wins

Two weeks ago, I wrote here about how if I was a member of Fine Gael, I would vote for Leo Varadkar to be the new leader of Fine Gael. There were a number of reasons for this but primarily because he represents my generation who are much more liberal, more tolerant, more open and want to see change happen.

Well, it comes as no surprise to many, Leo Varadkar won the election. He is now the leader of Fine Gael and is on track to become the next Taoiseach next week.

International media excitement

The Irish and the international media were very interested in the election of the new leader of Fine Gael precisely because Leo Varadkar was so different – he is openly gay, he is half-Irish, half-Indian and he is young at 38 years of age. It is an unusual mix for any politician. His sexuality not being a hindrance to his success is seen as an indication as to how far Ireland has changed and progressed.

It is highly unlikely that if he was heterosexual that the international media would be so interested in the election of a new leader of the main party forming the government of Ireland.

Things went awry…

As so many members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party declared that they would vote for Leo Varadkar, it was more or less accepted that Leo Varadkar would be the winner. It looked like the election was all over even before it happened. It was suggested that Simon Coveney was doomed from the get go and that he was considering quitting the race after just a few days.

Coveney and Varadkar debated the issues and the future of Fine Gael at four hustings across the south and midlands of Ireland – not in the north though. The hustings energised the Fine Gael members and it was the talk of media for two weeks. The reports from the hustings said that Simon Coveney did very well in the debates so that there was some hope that the election was not over yet and that it could be a close run thing.

So imagine the horror and shock for the media and for Leo Varadkar when Simon Coveney won 65% of the votes from the members of Fine Gael. If it were a simple election by the members, Leo Varadkar would have been routed by Simon Coveney. People would have been talking about Varadker being knocked out and devastated, unlikely to be in a leadership role again.

Coveney’s supporters were ecstatic about the membership vote for Simon Coveney. It was clear that normal Fine Gael members preferred Coveney to Varadkar.

Varadkar still triumphs

Notwithstanding the massive endorsement of his opponent by the members of his party, Leo Varadkar still won the election as the vote that really mattered was the vote of the parliamentary party. As Varadkar had prepared earlier and better than Coveney, he had far more support in the Oireachtas than Coveney had. It was these votes that gave Varadkar victory.

A transformative figure

Leo Varadkar is a unique figure and has already made history due to his background and his openness about his sexuality. He will become the youngest Taoiseach. I think that it is only fair that the most transformative person became the leader of Fine Gael even though most of his party members did not vote for him. The international media got past their moment of wobbliness following Coveney’s victory amongst the members. Varadkar gave a good speech saying that his victory shows that prejudice does not have a hold in this republic. It is true in many ways.

Already Varadkar is being spoken and written of in similar terms to Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron – young, cool political leaders. Varadkar will undoubtedly change Ireland even though I do not agree with his political philosophy.

It is too early yet to know what will transpire but I think that Leo Varadkar will definitely make an impact and change a lot of things in Ireland.

Fine Gael, gay, immigrant, Leo Varadkar, politics, right wing, Simon Coveney, Taoiseach, winner

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If I was a member of Fine Gael…

Who would I vote as leader – Leo or Simon?

Fine Gael, the right-wing, conservative, Christian Democratic party that currently forms the government in Ireland albeit by the skin of their teeth, are currently in the midst of a leadership selection contest. The two contenders for the leader are Leo Varadker and Simon Coveney.

Varadker is the current Minister for Social Protection and Coveney is the Minister for Housing and Local Government. Both are relatively young men – Varadker in particular at 38 years of age. Coveney is 45 years of age.

I usually am not bothered by the inner workings of Fine Gael as it is not a party that I would ever support. Nevertheless, this contest is of importance for Ireland for two reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, Fine Gael form the government of Ireland so whoever will be elected leader of Fine Gael will be also elected Taoiseach. Secondly, if Leo Varadker wins the contest (it looks likely), it will be a very important generational change in Ireland and the strongest indication yet of the enormous changes that have happened in Irish society over the last three decades.

Leo – the standout candidate

Leo Varadker – his name alone says so much about him. Leo Varadker is Irish but his name is not. What is it so? His father Ashok Varadker is from India and is a doctor who met an Irish nurse, Miriam from Dún Garbhán, Port Láirge, while both of them worked in the health service in England.

Not only does Varadker have an unusual family name for Ireland (but so did Éamonn de Valera and Erskine Childers) but he made history in a very personal manner about something very private – his sexual orientation.

Varadker is not the first person in Irish politics to be homosexual – Senator David Norris springs to mind for most Irish people – but he is the first government minister to announce it publicly and to broadcast it. Literally. He gave a radio interview on his 36th birthday in February 2015 in which he said openly that he was a gay man. I heard the interview and he announced it with slight hesitation but once he said it, he was able to talk about it freely and openly. He deserves praise for having the courage to announce to the Irish people that he is homosexual. He did not need to do it but, as he said himself, he did not want people to think that he had any secret agenda when he was making decisions as Minister for Health and when campaigning for the marriage equality referendum in May 2015. His announcement, as a government minister, certainly strenghtened the Yes campaign. Weeks later Pat Carey, a former government minister in the previous government, also announced that he is gay. He said that having listened to Leo Varadker´s interview, he, Carey, wished that he had had the courage to tell the world about his sexuality while he was a minister. Since Varadker had the courage to do it, Carey also wanted to do it – again to reinforce the Yes side in the marriage equality campaign.

Until the present, that interview is what Varadker is most remembered for. Even if he does not win the leadership election, he will be remembered and admired for that interview as it opened the gate for others to follow. It proved that one’s sexuality is not an impediment to reaching high office.

Varadker has said that if he were in Britain, he would certainly be in the Conservative party. This is not a big surprise as Fine Gael is a sister party to the Conservatives in Britain. That said, I like neither of them. I would never vote for Fine Gael or for Varadker if I was a voter in his constituency. Varadker may be socially liberal (which is a good thing) but his economic ideas would not appeal to me. He says that he is for “people who get up early in the morning”. This is a way of saying that he wants to support those people who run their own businesses, are ambitious, active and want to do well. It sounds good and why not? The truth is though that if taken too far, government policy will be for aiding more those who are involved in private business and against people who are poor. It is typical right-wing political thinking – help those who want to get ahead and forget about people who do not have many opportunities and who could do with some help from the state to have a decent life.

I am not saying that Varadker is a ruthless Margaret Thatcher in waiting, but he has political ideas that could chime with hers.

In the other corner – Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney at his campaign launch

It is a pity that Fine Gael has two outstanding candidates for leader at the same time. Simon Coveney has been a Teachta Dála longer than Leo Varadker. He has even been a Member of the European Parliament. He was elected at a young age (25) following the tragic death of his father Hugh Coveney, who fell off a cliff trying to rescue a dog. Coveney has clear intelligence, gravitas and integrity.

He comes from a very well to do background. He attended Clongowes Wood College which is probably the top boys’ boarding school in Ireland. It is certainly the most expensive. It is a sign of one’s background to have attended Clongowes Wood. He was not an angel there though – he was more or less expelled whilst a tranisition year student. He had a stutter or speech impediment when he was young and this made him seem shy or taciturn whereas in reality, he found it difficult to speak for long so he had to rehearse his words and say them at a slow rate.

In terms of political philosophy, Coveney talks about wanting Fine Gael to be for everyone. His vision is more caring and inclusive than Varadker’s. Some say that his time as Minister for Housing has made him acutely aware of the need to help those in society who do not have the means to make it on their own. He says

“I believe passionately that Fine Gael must reach out to all of our citizens. That we should be a party for everyone which seeks to unite rather than divide. Our goal should be nothing less than the creation of a society in which everyone can participate, and an economy from which everyone can benefit.”

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It is a different vision to Varadker’s who is keen to focus on people with ambition and who work hard. Simon talks about uniting Ireland and being a party for all.
So if I had a vote, who would I vote for?
Fine Gael are not a party that I support. There is much about them that I dislike – they are conservative, they are supporters of religion in politics, they are supported by the well-off who do not care for equality in society, they are not interested in the Irish language even though their name in English means the Family of the Gael, and they are sometimes very keen on Ireland being close to the UK.
So If I was a member of that party, who would I vote for? The answer is Leo Varadker.
Leaving aside my dislike of his political ideas, I think that he represents a new departure in Irish politics and Irish life.
Firstly, he is half-Irish, half-Indian. This international mix makes him somewhat exotic and it makes for more tolerance and diversity in Irish society if people see that the Taoiseach is half-Irish with a slightly swarthy complexion.
Secondly, he is openly gay. His sexuality is none of my business but if he becomes Taoiseach, Ireland will be one of only a few states in the world where the head of government or head of state is openly gay. It will be extremely significant and denotative of how changed and liberal Ireland is.
Lastly, and most importantly, he is young. He was born in 1979. He is the new generation of Irish people who were born after 1975 are far more liberal, more tolerant, more out-spoken, less religious, more international. The people born 70 to 50 years ago are in the main more conservative, more religious and less open to change. Leo is my generation – I was born in 1980. People my age, whether Generation X or Millennials, want an Ireland and a world that is more tolerant, more liberal, more open, more radical. The power of people my age and younger was most clearly seen two years ago when people travelled from all over the world to vote for same sex marriage. It was mostly young people who did it. Young people are accused of not being interested in politics but that is not true. They may not be interested in political parties but they are interested in issues that affect them and their friends. Young people, in Ireland and around the world, want an accepting society, want a cleaner world, want a less religion obsessed world. Leo Varadker is a leader of that generation, my generation. For too long people who were born 70 to 50 years ago have held power and formed opinions in Ireland. Those people are slowly retiring and dying. They held Ireland back. Now that Leo Varadker is on his way to the top, I expect that we will see a lot of things that were preserved by older generations will change or be removed. Expect to see change in the world of education, lifestyle, health care, broadcasting and culture.
OK. One last reason I would support Leo Varadker, for something very close to my heart. Leo went to Irish classes in Oideas Gael so that he could improve his knowledge of Irish. He speaks Irish occasionally. It may be more conversational Irish rather than fluent Irish but he is not afraid to use Irish. He used it on his campaign video – Is Mise Leo Varadker.
Unfortunately, I do not think that Simon Coveney speaks Irish.
The likelihood is Leo Varadker will win
To win the leadership election, a candidate needs the support of most of the Fine Gael parliamentary party. Leo Varadker has gained announcements from most of the parliamentary party. He will probably win a considerable number of votes from the members of Fine Gael and from the councillors.
One never knows. Simon Coveney may win but it seems unlikely at this point. The campaign will last another two weeks or less and then the winner will have to get appointed Taoiseach. This may not be so easy as it seems as Fine Gael are a minority in Dáil Éireann and they need the support of Fianna Fáil to allow them continue ruling.
Come what may, Leo Varadker will continue to rise and will undoubtedly continue to make an impact.
campaigns, Dáil Éireann, election, gay, Ireland, Irish, leadership, Leo Varadker, politics, Simon Coveney, Taoiseach, youth
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Bogus Irish History

Turning the harp

Bogus Irish history for what end?

Over the last number of years, I have come across what appears to be a little-known event in Irish history – the turning of the harp on the 21st of January each year to restore the sovereignty of Ireland. From investigating it, I have discovered that it is entirely bogus.

This bogus history makes for intriguing possibilities in Irish history but when investigated properly it makes for utter nonsense. For people like me who are keenly interested in history and politics, particularly Irish republican politics, it is exciting to learn more about what was done by organisations such as the United Irishmen, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Irish Republican Army, Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan, Sinn Féin and others.

Due to the turbulent history in Ireland over the centuries, there were many events and activities that were done secretly or were not part of the mainstream of Irish political life, so they are frequently unknown and mysterious. Some examples of little known Irish history include the planning of the 1803 rebellion by the United Irishmen under Robert Emmet, the establishment of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1858, the setting up of the Irish National Brotherhood and the Irish National Invincibles (two splinter groups from the IRB), and the establishment by Dáil Éireann of the National Arbour Day when half a million trees were planted across Ireland on November 30th 1919.

Turning the harp

There is a small body of people, who style themselves the Irish Republican Brotherhood, lead by a man called William McGuire from Luimneach. Mr. McGuire claims that he is the President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Billy McGuire holding up his supposed sovereign seal at the Mansion House in Baile Átha Cliath

When I discovered some years ago that the IRB was still in existence, I was surprised and extremely curious to say the least. I was under the impression that the IRB had disbanded in 1924. So why were some people still acting as the IRB?

This latter-day IRB claims that there was a seal created for the Irish state. It is a silver harp with the words Éire under it and perhaps on the Irish tricolour of green, white and orange. Furthermore, it needs to be turned each year on January 21st, the anniversary of the founding of Dáil Éireann. This turning ceremony needs to be performed in order for the state to be legitimate and for things such as laws, courts, commissions etc. to be legal. This is very exciting stuff indeed. Could it be that for all these years, the Irish state has not been acting legally? Was there a secret ritual done in 1919 that was forgotten to history?

The narrative is that:

“On the morning of the 21st January, in Vaughans Hotel on Parnell square, a man named Tom McGuire elevated and turned the Sovereign Seal of Dáil Éireann, from the rising sun to the setting sun, from north to south and from east to west, and from Pagan to Christian to Sovereign; As in the 1916 Proclamation, claiming sovereignty over the elements, earth, air, fire and water and all there in and there of, on behalf of the Sovereign people and the Sovereign Republic of Éire.”

On first reading, it sounds very interesting and full of power and majesty. But read it again. What is this about the rising and setting sun, Pagan and Christian, the elements of earth, air, fire and water? It seems a little odd when talking about republican politics and the sovereignty of Ireland.

But it must be genuine as there are hints that this is real history – the date of the 21st January when Dáil Éireann was established in 1919, the mention of the 1916 Proclamation, the use of Éire, the Irish name for Ireland, the reference to a sovereign republic and to the exact location of Vaughan’s Hotel in Parnell Square in Baile Átha Cliath which was a favourite meeting place of republicans such as Michael Collins and Dick McKee. These are all real facts so it seems plausible that this event could have also happened but it is a little known fact from this period. The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret organisation after all so it can’t be certain what they did at their meetings.

What the so-called IRB claim

William McGuire and his followers call themselves the IRB. Actually they call themselves the “Irish Republican and Fenian Brotherhood” – a body which never existed. There were two different organisations – one called the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Ireland and the other the Fenian Brotherhood in the USA. McGuire insists that his grand-uncle Tom McGuire was tasked by the IRB in 1917 to buy Vaughan’s Hotel in Parnell Square in Baile Átha Cliath to use as a base for republicans to meet in. The Fenian Brotherhood in the USA bought a large house in Manhattan for that organisation to use as a headquarters, so this type of activity occurred before.

The day that Dáil Éireann was established on January 21st, 1919, William McGuire claims that his grand-uncle Tom took a large silver harp and turned it over the Irish tricolour. The purpose of this ceremony was to establish the sovereignty of Ireland. It is claimed that this ceremony was done on the 21st of January every year since.

McGuire claims that it is mandatory for the Taoiseach, Ceann Comhairle and Chief Justice to witness this ceremony, as their seal of office derives from and under the Sovereign Seal. All members of An Garda Siochána and defence forces must wear the harp on their buttons, seven strings for Gardaí and eight strings for soldiers. It appears on all government documentation, and again allegedly, all licences and coinage must bear it. The euro notes do not bear the words ‘legal tender’ on them so allegedly they are not legal.

The sovereign seal is the harp with the word Éire below it and supposedly it must be elevated above every judge in every court. It consists of 12 strings (devised from the four elements, our five senses and the trinity). A 13th string was adapted as it is the execution string for the judge to secure a just determination in court. It was originally worn as a torc by the brehon for the same purpose as it would tighten around the neck if the ruling was against the principles in law.

Most of the above two paragraphs are taken from the websites and press releases of McGuire. A few questions need to be asked. Where is it stated that it is mandatory for the Taoiseach, Ceann Comhairle and the Chief Justice to witness the ceremony? There is no mention of it in Bunreacht na hÉireann. Likewise, where is it stipulated that members of An Garda Síochána and the defence forces have to wear uniforms containing the harp? Why must there be a seal above judges? Why must licences bear the harp?

Notice the reference to “the four elements, our five sense and the trinity” and to the mention of the unscientific history about a torc around a judge’s neck. It is a bit odd to mention these things when talking about sovereignty and the duties of the most important office holders of the state.

Which is the legitimate government of Ireland?

McGuire claims that the government of Ireland and the Dáil from which it is elected is not really sovereign and they were created by the English king. They call the Oireachtas “the Provisional Oireachtas”. There is some grounds for this idea but it no longer applies in the Ireland of 2017. The British government in 1921 refused to recognise the Irish Republic and forced the Irish negotiators to accept a treaty making Ireland a dominion of the British Empire with the British monarch as head of state and the members of the Oireachtas had to swear allegiance to the British monarch. This meant that the attempt at establishing an independent Irish Republic was destroyed and the Irish Republic was defeated in 1922. While the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 did create an Irish Free State with the British monarch as the head of state, the election of Fianna Fáil in 1932 on a republican platform ushered in a new phase of Irish politics. Fianna Fáil abolished all the odious parts of the Treaty settlement such as by abolishing the oath of allegiance to the British crown. In 1937, Fianna Fáil took the biggest step by drafting a new constitution for Ireland, Bunreacht na hÉireann, which made Ireland a completely sovereign and independent state. There was no longer any constitutional connection with the British state. The constitution states that the people of Ireland are sovereign and only the people can change the constitution. The Irish people voted for this constitution so this is what gives it legitimacy. It was not imposed upon the Irish people like the Anglo-Irish Treaty was. Therefore the government of Ireland is the legitimate government of Ireland. It is elected democratically every five years.

Contradictions in his claims

Mr. McGuire rails against the “Provisional Oireachtas” imposed on Ireland by the English King in 1921. This body is not the sovereign government of Ireland and therefore they are illegitimate. Dáil Éireann is the real government of Ireland.

That seems easy to understand. But then why does Mr. McGuire insist that the Taoiseach, the Ceann Comhairle and the Chief Justice need to be present when the harp is turned? Surely if you are opposed to a political system and do not want them to have power and deny their legitimacy, then you would not want them involved in your political events.

Billy McGuire holding up the 1937 Bunreacht na hÉireann, not the so-called Sovereign Constitution of 1919.

McGuire is seen in photographs and videos holding up a copy of Bunreacht na hÉireann but then on his own website, he claims that there is a different constitution for the so-called Sovereign Republic of Éire.

It is a complete contradiction and further destroys the credibility of his claims.

The demolition of this bogus history

All of the claims by McGuire and his supporters can be demolished piece by piece leaving no doubt that what he claims is bogus and a fabrication.

1. There is no mention of the harp turning in the witness statements in the Bureau of Military History

The definitive account of the struggle for Irish freedom can be found in the witness statements in the Bureau of Military History. These are thousands of first-hand accounts from the people who participated in the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War. These have been made available for people to read and learn. I highly encourage anyone to read these accounts to know what people did during the 1913-23 period. There is no witness statement from a man called Tom McGuire nor is there any mention by any witness that a harp was turned in Vaughan’s Hotel on the 21st January 1919. If there is no mention of this event in these thousands of statements from people who were involved in the fight to free Ireland, it is proof that it is bogus. There was a Commadant-General Thomas McGuire in county Maigh Eo but he is not mentioned in relation to Vaughan’s Hotel.

2. There was and is no such state called the “Sovereign Republic of Éire”

On Monday April 24th 1916, the Irish Republic was proclaimed. It was called Poblacht na hÉireann in Irish. In January 1919, when Dáil Éireann was being set up, there was a debate among some of the newly elected Sinn Féin representatives whether to call the Irish Republic Saorstát Éireann or Poblacht na hÉireann. Some felt that the word saorstát was the best Irish equivalent for the idea of a republic. Saor meant free and stát meant a state. The aim of these people was to make Ireland a free state. Poblacht was a neologism coined by Liam S Gógáin as a term for republic. His inspiration for the word came from the Irish word for kingdom, ríocht. A ríocht is a country which is ruled by a , so using the same idea, a poblacht would be a country ruled by the people, pobal. Ó Gógáin used the ending of ríocht “ocht” and attached it to pobal and therefore created the word poblacht. From 1919 to 1921, both Saorstát Éireann and Poblacht na hÉireann were both used as Irish equivalents for the Irish Republic. After 1922, Saorstát Éireann was used as the name for the new Irish Free State, so Poblacht na hÉireann was the only name in Irish used for the Irish Republic.

In 1921, Éamon de Valera alternated between using the name Irish Republic and the Republic of Ireland in his official correspondence. There are some semantic differences that these titles convey i.e. an Irish Republic means that the republic has more distinctly Irish characteristics such as the use of the Irish language etc.

Notwithstanding the subtle differences of the Irish and English names for the Irish Republic, the name “the Sovereign Republic of Éire” was never used. No state by this name was proclaimed nor was there any state called by this name. It is a fabrication.

3. The supposed constitution of the Republic of Ireland

Billy McGuire on his website has a supposed constitution of the Republic of Ireland. This interesting document has never been seen before and is never referred to by any historian or political commentator. Adding further weight to my comments above about the Sovereign Republic of Éire, the name used for the state on the front page of this constitution is the Republic of Ireland, not the Sovereign Republic of Éire.

While it makes for fascinating reading, it was never a constitution for Ireland. When Dáil Éireann was established, a provisional constitution was enacted by the Dáil. THIS WAS THE ONLY CONSTITUTION created by Dáil Éireann.

Some people have pointed out that McGuire took a document written by republican Teachta Dála Mary McSwiney in 1928 and claimed it as the work of the IRB in 1919. This is a pathetic action by McGuire. McSwiney wrote it as a draft document to be potentially used as a constitution for a future Irish Republic. While it is an interesting document, it reeks of sectarianism. Thankfully it never became law.

4. The Irish Republican Brotherhood disbanded in 1924

It has been recorded by many historians and actual former members that the Irish Republican Brotherhood voted to disband itself in 1924. It had been in existence since 1858 and had been instrumental in organising many campaigns and political activity in Ireland over the centuries. It secretly took control of organisations such as the Irish National Petition Association, the Irish National Foresters, the Land League, the Irish Parliamentary Party, an Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, Conradh na Gaeilge, Sinn Féin, and most importantly, Óglaigh na hÉireann/the Irish Volunteers.

It was the IRB that provided the leadership for the 1916 rising and the War of Independence. Michael Collins was the President of the Supreme Council of the IRB and it was he and his supporters who ensured that the Anglo-Irish Treaty was accepted. Having lead to the creation of the Irish Free State, the IRB had more or less achieved its objective and once the civil war had ceased, the IRB found itself without a purpose so it voted in 1924 to disband. The funds left over were used to pay for the erection of a statue to Theobold Wolfe Tone in St. Stephen’s Green in Baile Átha Cliath.

The secret revolutionary tendencies that previously existed in the IRB continued in the anti-treaty IRA and remain there to this day.

Therefore, the IRB that Billy McGuire claims to lead is a new organisation and nothing to do with the real IRB of 1858 to 1924.

5. People do not get their sovereignty from a symbol, they are sovereign by legal status.

While it might not be obvious to McGuire and his supporters, people do not get their sovereignty from a symbol such as a harp. People are sovereign due to their legal status. In Ireland, the people are sovereign so a referendum must be held in order that Bunreacht na hÉireann can be amended. The people must give their consent to any change to the constitution. The same cannot be said for the United Kingdom. In the British kingdom, the people are not citizens nor are they sovereign. The people are subjects of the monarch and the parliament is sovereign.

How did this happen? The people of Ireland voted for it in July 1937. The new constitution declared that the people are sovereign and must give their consent to political change. A symbol such as a harp does not make them sovereign. The symbol of Ireland, the harp, is only a pretty symbol but nothing more. It has legal status in that the Irish state is the only entity permitted to use a certain version of the harp but the national symbol has no importance other than that.

6. McGuire gets basic historical facts wrong

McGuire claims that 1918 general election was somehow held out of Vaughan’s Hotel. Utter nonsense. Sinn Féin had its head office in 6, Harcourt Street, Baile Átha Cliath – the other side of the city. This is easy to prove by reading the books “Four Glorious Years” written by Frank O’Gallagher (aka David Hogan) who worked with Harry Boland in 6, Harcourt Street in organising the Sinn Féin election campaign or “The Victory of Sinn Fein” by P.S. O’Hegarty who also worked in 6, Harcourt Street organising the Sinn Féin election campaign. What is important about the latter book is that it was written in 1924 from a now almost forgotten viewpoint – that of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. O’Hegarty was on the Supreme Council of the IRB for many years so he knew what he was writing about. It is the real history of the real IRB, not the bogus history McGuire claims.

McGuire claims that the War of Independence was declared in Vaughan’s Hotel. It was not declared. It began in Soloheadbeg by the initiative of local Irish Volunteers. There was no need to declare a war.

Dáil Éireann did not establish courts in Vaughan’s Hotel as McGuire claims nor did they occupy the building called the Four Courts. That occupation occurred in 1922. This can be checked in the Dáil minutes and in the statements in the Bureau of Military History.

McGuire likes to claim that his grand-uncle and his supposed IRB were responsible for pretty much all of the important events in 1919 but a quick check with historical documents shows the truth.

7. McGuire and his followers made an untrue statement about their records being in the University of Limerick

On the website of the supposed Irish Republican Brotherhood, there is a statement that the Vaughan Hotel papers were donated to the University of Limerick and that people interested in them should contact the university.

For history of IRB relatives records, please contact the University of Limerick where the Vaughan’s Hotel papers with all the information on everything is held. These papers were handed over to the university many years ago.

As a former student of the University of Limerick, I was interested in seeing the papers so I contacted the university.

Here is the reply I received from Ken Bergin, the librarian in charge of special collections:

Dear Mr Ó Coistín,

Thank you for your email. I am aware of Mr Maguire’s claims about the papers from Vaughans Hotel but these papers are not in the UL archives under my care nor in the special collections archives held by the library.

I cannot find any mention of them in the UL archives and I have worked in Special Collections since 1999.

I am sorry that I cannot be of any more help in this matter.


Ken Bergin

In a reply I asked Mr Bergin if he will be contacting Mr. McGuire to remove the false statement on the Irish Republican Brotherhood website. Mr Bergin replied:

“I have spoken to Mr Maguire about his claims on several occasions.”

This says it all. Not only does the University of Limerick not have any papers from Mr McGuire, he has been asked by the university to tell the truth about the university not having papers from him.

Hocus pocus

Mr McGuire mixes Irish history with a strange blend of make believe about the importance of the harp. He emphasises the importance of the harp, turning it in different directions, looking at in a mirror, the significance of the number of strings, how it can be used in various ways for the benefit of mankind etc. There is frequent mention of a bizarre piece of information about a “Psaltery AD 12 strings, a Christian symbol and ethos” and the “Harp BC 12 strings”. A harp is a harp no matter which way you turn it. Does it matter which way a guitar is facing? It is still a guitar.

The whole thing is bizarre nonsense and gets infuriating when you read it in letter after letter that Mr McGuire wrote. It is bullshit of the smelliest kind. It is like as if Mr McGuire has to keep mentioning these confusing pieces of information in order to, in his mind, recharge the harp with some power that it plainly does not have. I feel sorry for anyone who received one of his letters. They must seem very strange and difficult to understand.

It does not help that he wrote most of them by hand. This was done deliberately as it is part of his philosophy which is about sovereignty.

The Sovereignty Movement

Why is it so important to write a letter by hand? It is part of a strange and dangerous political philosophy about being a sovereign citizen. A sovereign citizen is a person who is free and does not live by the laws of the state. He or she does not need to as they are sovereign. Now you can see why Mr McGuire goes on about a Sovereign Republic of Éire and a sovereign seal. Writing letters by hand rather than typing them show that you are a real person and your signature is, wait for this, a “sign of nature”. What about that for false etymology? You see, your handwriting is a sign that you actually exist and therefore that you are free or sovereign. In case you did not know, the etymology of signature is: Middle French, from Medieval Latin signatura, from Latin signatus, past participle of signare to sign, seal.

So your signature is not a sign of nature but the past tense in Latin of to sign.

The sovereign citizen movement in the USA is a dangerous movement and they are the biggest killers of police officers in the USA.

By claiming that the Irish state is not sovereign, then it can be McGuire’s idea that Irish people do not have to live by the laws of the state. This is why it is so important for him to keep talking and writing about the sovereignty of Ireland and a sovereign constitution.

On his website, he has information about how to maintain your sovereignty.

How does Billy McGuire benefit from this charade?

As a little bit of investigating proves, Mr McGuire’s claims are all bogus. So the question has to be asked why does he do this? How does he benefit from propagating a bogus history and trying to portray himself as having some special position with unrecognised legality?

He is an intelligent man. So why would he do this? Does he make money from this? He and his crew sell certificates “Certificates of Irish Sovereignty“, based on the unsuccessful Certificates of Irish Heritage, for people who witnessed the turning of the harp. Sales of these certificates would not amount to much – a few hundred euro, if even. So what does he get from it?

Perhaps it is a deep psychological need to feel important. Everyone has this desire in some way but people find ways of feeling important with their family and friends, their jobs, sport, music, community activities etc. Most people do not concoct a false history and claim to be someone of importance when the whole thing can be easily disproved. It just makes the person doing it seem like an utter idiot or mentally unsound.

In his letters, Mr. McGuire adds on title after title:

“President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood

President of the Sovereign Republic of Éire

President of Óglaigh na hÉireann Court

Keeper of the Sovereignty of the Sovereign Republic of Éire

Keeper of the Sovereign Trinity and The Sovereign Seals and Harps of the Sovereign Republic of Éire

President of the Sovereign Dáil Éireann Government

Head of State of the Sovereign Republic of Éire”

It smacks of desperation to be important. All of these titles are made up.

It is not clear what Mr McGuire’s objective is but he has no legs to stand on. The whole thing is bogus. William McGuire and his followers should be exposed for fabricating Irish history and ignored for their nonsense.

* * *

(Just in case there is some validity to what Mr McGuire claims, he should be prepared to publish all documents and photographs regarding his claims. In particular, he needs to show photographs of the turning of the harp in previous decades such as the 1920s. He needs to prove how the IRB continued in existence after 1924 and how his father and himself ended up controlling it. He needs to provide evidence of who designed and created the harps that he turns every January. He claims that he has all the documents so he should publish them).

alternative facts, Billy McGuire, bogus history, Dáil Éireann, Éire, fake news, harp, IRB, Irish history, Irish Republican Brotherhood, Mansion House, republic, sovereignty

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What is the point of an Irish state that is not very Irish?

What is the point of an Irish state that is not very Irish?

As we celebrate the centenary of the events that lead to the creation of the Irish state, we are asked to reflect and reimagine Ireland. It is worth asking is there a point of there being an Irish state when there is very little Irish about it?

When women and men went out on many occasions in Irish history to fight, kill and die for Ireland, why did they want Ireland to be free? Why was English domination of Ireland so unbearable and alien that Ireland had to be freed? What was so different between Britain and Ireland that we could not live in an harmonious unitary state?

Nation states are states for separate nations. Those who strove for Irish independence always claimed that Ireland was a separate nation, so therefore Ireland deserved to be an independent state. However, when one looks at the nation state that is Ireland today, it is worth asking, does Ireland really need to be a separate state when there is very little Irish about the Irish state?

English is the main language in every domain of Irish life. During the recent election campaign, a debate in the Irish language did not happen, as some of the leaders of the main parties could not speak the first official language of the state. Would this happen in other nation states such as Finland that have a unique national language and fought for freedom from domineering neighbouring states?

The misspelling of Éirí Amach na Cásca at the unveiling of a remembrance wall in the Glasnevin cemetery in the presence of the head of government of our independent nation state is further proof of how far from official minds the first official language is. How come no one spotted the error before the wall was dramatically revealed? There is no chance that this would have been let happen in the English language.

If we look at other domains of the state, the Irish legal system is a leftover from English common law. Why did the new Irish state not switch to a civil law system? Why become independent if the plan is to keep using the laws that the colonisers used?

The Irish statute book still has ancient laws going back to 1069 – passed by the English parliament. Again, what is the point of there being an Irish state if Irish people are still bound by ancient English laws? Alsace Lorraine were part of the German empire for nearly fifty years. Would France still use German law in these regions? Do the former regions of East Germany still use laws from that defunct state, even though they now form part of the Federal Republic of Germany? In fairness, the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 has aimed to repeal all laws passed before 1922, but many anachronistic statutes remain in force.

Our local government system is a shambles and lacking real power. This is how the British wanted it as they did not want to give too much power to the local councils in Ireland. Real power lay in London and in Dublin Castle. Instead of empowering the local councils since 1922, Irish governments have removed powers from local authorities and abolished some of them. The opposite should have happened.

We should ask ourselves if we are a separate nation, what makes us a separate nation? The native Irish princes disappeared after the defeat at Kinsale. The ancient Irish legal system, Féineachas (known as Brehon law) died out shortly after. Some would argue that the Catholic faith of most Irish people is what makes Ireland distinctive. If that were so, there would have no difference between Irish, British, Spanish, French, German, Italian people etc. before the Reformation.

Scotland is currently moving towards greater freedom. Scotland had its own parliament before it was incorporated into the United Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. When Scotland was made part of the UK, it kept its distinctive Scottish legal system, its own education system, its own church and at the time it had strong and distinctive languages (Gaelic and Scots). Ireland did not have a separate legal system when it was made part of the enlarged UK in 1801 nor did she have her own distinctive education system.

The strongest claim to separateness was and is our national language. We all know that there is much official hypocrisy regarding using the Irish language. If we do not care so much about the Irish language, is there a reason for a separate Irish state to exist?

Many neighbouring states speak the same language – the Arab states, the Hispanic states of Central and South America, the German-speaking states of Europe – but without asserting our distinctiveness through our language, it is difficult to find a strong reason for Ireland to be an independent state.

Ireland could easily be a self-governing unit of the United Kingdom with its own parliament to administer matters in Ireland but without the need for those things that are the domain of sovereign states e.g. an army, a diplomatic service, a separate currency, etc. Northern Ireland has such a status within the UK.

If we reflect honestly on our claim to independence, it will be shown that without something really distinctive such as the Irish language or a separate and better legal system, then there is very little reason for an Irish state.

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Mórthimpeall Meicsiceo Molfach

Is tír mhór dhraíochtach é Meicsiceo atá ag cur thar maoil le stair agus seanchas, le hiontais ársa, le tírdhreach álainn, bia gan sárú, aimsir theaspach agus daoine lácha geanúla. Má tá sé ar intinn agat dul ar chuairt go dtí Meicsiceo beidh sé deacair ort rogha a dhéanamh cad é ar mhaith leat a fheiceáil ann. Is iomaí áit ar féidir cuairt a thabhairt uirthi agus níl teorainn leis na rudaí arbh fhéidir a fheiceáil agus a dhéanamh. Mura bhfuil ach beagán ama agat chun cuairt a thabhairt ar Mheicsiceo is fiú go mór dul ann agus cuid de a bhlaiseadh. Ní bheidh díomá ort.

Un Gringo con sombrero en México! Mise le ceannbheart do na buachaillí bó a cheannaigh mé in Monterrey

Is tír mhór é Meicsiceo. Dá leagfá anuas ar an Eoraip é, síneadh sé ó Albain go dtí an Iodáil. Is é an ceathrú tír déag is mó ar domhain é. Tugann sé sin tuiscint duit cé chomh mór is atá an tír ársa seo. Tá an tír breac le séadchomharthaí ón aimsir anallód nuair a bhí dreamanna éagsúla – an-éagsúil ar fad – i réim i rith tréimhsí áirithe. Bhí cathracha á mbunú i Meicsiceo tuairim is 3,000 bliain ó shin. Sin cé chomh seanda atá rudaí i Meicsiceo. Tá an stair ann gan áireamh. Tá Meicsiceo lán de phirimid agus de shéadchomharthaí eile a tógadh fud fad na tíre.

Mar sin féin, tig leat an-spraoi go deo a bheith agat más mian leat rudaí nua-aimseartha a dhéanamh ann. Is féidir dul ag snámh agus tonnmharcaíocht agus deilfeanna a fheiceáil san Aigéan Atlantach agus san Aigéan Ciúin. Is féidir damhsa le ceol mariachi nó do scíth a ligean i gcaife nó teach tábhairne i gceantar beoga sna cathracha.

Cathair Mheicsiceo

D’eascair ainm na tíre ó chathair Mheicsiceo agus is fiú go mór cuairt a thabhairt uirthi. Is ceann de na cathracha is mó ar domhain í. Tá breis agus 21 milliún daoine ina gcónaí inti! Ní amháin sin, tá sí 2,400 méadar ar airde suite i ngleann leathan go hard sna sléibhte ach ní cheapfá go bhfuil sí chomh hard sin. I gceartlár na cathrach, tá sí ar nós seanchathracha Eorpacha le foirgnimh mhaorga, ascaillí agus cearnóga móra maille le páirceanna áille. I gceantair eile, tá cuma an-nua-aimseartha uirthi toisc na hilstóraigh ghalánta.

Radharc de cheantar nua-aimseartha i gCathair Mheicsiceo le foirgnimh ilstóracha

Faraor, i gceantair eile, go háirithe ar imeall na cathrach, tá ceantair atá beo bocht. Ní thugann turasóirí cuairt ar na ceantair sin. Is fiú go mór seachtain a chaitheamh sa chathair más leat eolas a chur uirthi. Tá neart le déanamh inti.

Lár na cathrach

Is fiú tús a chur le do chuairt go cathair Mheicsiceo i lár na cathrach – el Zócalo. Is cearnóg mhór í atá mar imleacán na cathrach. I lár baill tá crann brataí ollmhór ann ar a bhfuil bratach Mheicsiceo de shíor ar foluain. Ar an taobh ó thuaidh tá Ardeaglais Chathair Mheicsiceo, ardeaglais anmhór atá ar nós eaglais Spáinneach, ar an taobh thoir tá an El Palacio Nacional (an Pálás Náisiúnta – suíochán an rialtais) agus ar an taobh ó dheas tá oifigí rialtas na cathrach.

Ardeaglais Chathair Mheicsiceo Radharc ar lár na cathrach. Tá El Zócola le feiceáil i lár baill leis an Ardeaglais ar chlé agus an Palacio Nacional sa lár.

Is foirgnimh mhaorga iad agus tá cuma Spáinneach ar an gceantar. Tá an chearnóg agus na sráideanna máguaird suite i gceantar stairiúil agus is féidir neart a dhéanamh sa cheantar sin. Agus el Zócalo feicthe agat, is cóir seod na cathrach a fheiceáil – an Templo Mayor.

Fadó fadó i Meicsiceo…

Sula raibh cathair Mheicsiceo ann, bhí an chathair Tenochtitlan ann. Ba í Tenochtitlan ardchathair na Mexica (a bhfuil aithne níos fearr orthu mar na hAstacaigh).

Samhail de Tenochtitlan sular scriosadh í.

Nuair a rinne na Spáinnigh an tír a fhorghabháil sa bhliain 1521, ba í Tenochtitlan ceann de na cathracha is mó ar domhain. Chuir sé iontas ar na Spáinnigh ar cé chomh mór agus cé chomh innealta is a bhí an chathair. Mar sin féin, ní raibh drogall ar bith ar na Spáinnigh an chathair a scriosadh agus cathair nua a thógáil ar mhullach Tenochtitlan chun a léiriú go soiléir cé a bhí i gceannas.

Saothar ealaíne den scoth i ndánlann i gcaisleán Chapultapec ina léirítear an cath dearg a bhí idir na Méxica agus na Spáinnigh i 1521.

Tá iarsmaí den seanchathair fágtha. Is fiú go mór breathnú ar an Templo Mayor atá taobh thiar den Ardeaglais. Is ansin a bhí an áit is tábhachtaí do na Mexica. Bhí pirimid mhór acu ar a raibh céimeanna géara ar a haghaidh thiar. Ar mhullach na pirimide bhí dhá theampall ann – ceann amháin do Huitzilopochtli, dia an chogaidh, agus teampall eile tiomanta don dia Tlatoc, dia na báistí agus na talmhaíochta. Ní cheilimid an fhírinne – maraíodh na mílte daoine ar an láthair seo agus ba bhás gránna a bhfuair na híospartaigh. Chreid na Mexica gur ghá daoine a mharú ar mhaithe le Huitzilopochtli a shásamh. Is éard a tharla ná síneadh na donáin ar leac mór agus gearradh a ngoile agus a scairt. Réabadh an croí as na híospartaigh agus caitheadh isteach i soitheach faoi leith é. Uair amháin sa bhliain 1487, maraíodh tuairim is míle duine gach lá ar feadh fiche lá nuair a atógadh an teampaill! Shil sruth de fhuil na marbh síos na céimeanna. Ní nach ionadh mar sin gur theastaigh ó na Spáinnigh an áit fhuilteach seo a leagadh! Tá iarsmalann an Templo Mayor ann agus is féidir eolas a chur ar scéal an teampaill agus iarsmaí a fheiceáil inti.

I gceartlár na cathrach tá neart foirgnimh eile arbh fhiú a fheiceáil. Moltar go mór duit dul suas El Torre Latinoamericana (An Túr Mheiriceá Laidineach) chun radharc breá a fháil ar an gcathair. Is féidir an chathair ar fad a fheiceáil ó bharr an túir.

El Torre Latinoamericana i gceartlár Chathair Mheicsiceo

I gcóngar an túir tá El Palacio de Bellas Artes, ceoláras álainn. Ní gá ticéad a cheannach i gcomhair taibhiú chun dul isteach ann – tugtar cead breathnú ar an taobh istigh.

El Palacio de Bellas Artes

Díreach le hais El Palacio, tá garraí álainn darbh ainm an Alameda Central. Bíonn an aimsir an-te i Meicsiceo mar sin is áit deas í chun do scíth a ligean agus foscadh a fháil ón ngrian. Tá crainn agus scairdeáin uisce ann chun an t-aer a fhuarú. Tá cuma ghleoite ar an ngarraí de bharr na bláthanna atá ag fás i measc na gcrainn.

An Almeda Central

Trasna na sráide ón bPalacio de Bellas Artes, tá foirgneamh galánta eile arbh fhiú cuairt a thabhairt air. Is é an Palacio Postal (Pálás an Phoist). Is pálás go deimhin é! Féach an staighre iontach i lár na hoifige. Tá iarsmalann thuas staighre arbh fhéidir cuairt a thabhairt uirthi. Tá saor cead isteach ann.

An staighre iontach i lár El Palacio Postal

Beagáinín siar ón Alameda Central, tá la Plaza de la Republica ina bhfuil foirgneamh le stua ollmhór ar gach taobh de suite i lár na cearnóige. Is éard atá ann ná an Monumento a la Revolución (Séadchomhartha na Muirthéachta). Tá iarsmalann ann a mhíníonn cad a tharla i rith na muirthéachta a tharla i Meicsiceo idir na blianta 1910 go dtí na 1920í. Is féidir taisteal in ardaitheoir go barr an fhoirgnimh agus siúl timpeall an díon. Arís is féidir radhairc a fháil ar an gcathair.

Seádchomhartha na Muirthéachta

I gceantar eile sa chathair darbh ainm Chapultapec (cnoc an dreoilín teaspaigh i Nahuatl, teanga na Mexica), tá páirc mhór le coill inar féidir a lán a dhéanamh. Ar thaobh amháin tá an Museo Nacional de Antropología (Iarsmalann Antraipeolaíochta na Tíre) atá ollmhór ar fad agus is ann a fheictear na hiarsmaí, na dealbha agus réada eile a chruthaigh na dreamanna éagsúla ón aimsir anallód. Is í an iarsmalann i Meicsiceo a bhfuil an triall is mó uirthi.

Dealbh mhór i lár na cearnóige san iarsmalann. Glaoitear an Scáth Fearthainne ar an bhfuarán seo.

Ní féidir gach rud inti a fheiceáil in aon lá amháin. Ní mór dhá lá a chaitheamh ann. Cuirfear eolas ar gach dream a d’fhág a lorg ar Mheicsiceo. Is é seod na hiarsmalainne an seomra ina thaispeántar bailiúchán na Mexica. Is ann atá an charraig ar a bhfuil féilire cáiliúil na Mexica greanta. Glaoitear el Piedro del Sol (carraig na gréine) uirthi. Tá an seomra ag cur thar maoil le réada ó Tenochtitlan agus bainfear an-taitneamh as.

El Piedro del Sol – an dealbh nó cloch ghreanta is cáiliúla a chruthaigh na Méxica riamh Roth ollmhór greanta a chruthaigh na Méxica. Tá sé le feiceáil i seomra na Méxica san iarsmalann.

Seo blaiseadh de na réada atá le feiceáil ann a thugann éachtaint ar stair Mheicsiceo.

Trasna an bhóthair ón iarsmalann sin tá an pháirc inar féidir spraoi a bheith agat lasmuigh i measc na gcrainn nó ag bádóireacht ar loch nó ag caitheamh béile sna hiliomad bialanna ann. Tá caisleán Chapultapec ann ina raibh uachtaráin na tíre ina gcónaí tráth ach is iarsmalann sa lá atá inniu ann. Bíonn an pháirc agus an caisleán dubh le daoine i rith an lae mar sin bí ag súil le seal a chaitheamh ag seasamh i scuaine. Is caisleán deas é agus cuirtear eolas ar stair nua-aimseartha Mheicsiceo.

Má tá suim agat in ealaíon, tá iarsmalann eile a thaitneoidh leat. Ba ealaíontóir cáiliúil í Frida Kahlo agus is féidir cuairt a thabhairt ar an teach ina raibh cónaí uirthi. Tá Casa Frida Kalho lonnaithe in Coyoacán i ndeisceart na cathrach. Tá cuid dá pictiúir le feiceáil sa teach mar aon le nithe a bhain lena saol. Ceantar beoga é Coyocán istoíche agus tá sé de nós ag daoine spaisteoireacht timpeall an bhaile ag ithe is ag ól agus éisteacht le ceol. Tá neart bialanna agus tithe tábhairne agus margaí ann chun spraoi a bheith agat ann.

Ceantair eile ina mbíonn an gabhar á róstadh istoíche ná Polanco agus La Condesa. Bíonn cuid de na sráideanna ann lán le daoine san oíche agus is féidir dul ó thábhairne go club go héasca.


I bhfoisceacht cathair Mheicsiceo tá cathair ársa eile darbh ainm Teotihuacán. Ba chathair mhór í a bhí ag barr a réime thart ar 1,800 bliain ó shin ach de dheasca cogadh agus ceannairc, tréigeadh an chathair agus fágadh bán í. Thóg na daoine a raibh ina gcónaí ann dhá phirimid móra – pirimid na Gréine agus pirimid na Gealaí. Dar ndóigh, is í pirimid na Gréine an ceann is mó (an tríú pirimid is mó ar domhan go deimhin).

Lucht siamsaíochta gléasta i gcultacha dúchasacha de dhéanamh na Méxica i lár Teotihuacán. Tá Pirimid na Gealaí taobh thiar dóibh.

Bíonn scuaine fhada romhat chun dul go mullach na pirimide mar sin moltar duit dul go dtí Teotihuacán go luath ionas nach mbeidh ort feitheamh i scuaine ar feadh dhá nó trí huaire an chloig. Ní bhíonn scuaine ann chun pirimid na Gealaí a dhreapadh agus is ansin a fhaightear radharc den scoth ar an gcathair ar fad mar tá ascaill fhada a shíneann amach ón bpirimid. Is féidir an chathair a fheiceáil tú féin nó is féidir camchuairt a thabhairt le treoraí.

Sin Pirimid na Gréine taobh thiar dom.

Is féidir taisteal chuici ó chathair Mheicsiceo ar bhus. Bíodh Teotihuacán mar cheann de na háiteanna a thugtar cuairt air fad is atáthar i Meicsiceo!

Seo a leanas roinnt de na bailte nó áiteanna is mó aithne i Meicsiceo:

Is é Acapulco an baile saoire i Meicsiceo a bhfuil an aithne is fearr air agus a bhíonn an líon is mó turasóirí ag triall air. Le tránna órga fada, dufair theochreasach agus aillte óna léimeann tumadóirí nach dtugann aird ar a mbeatha, tá neart le déanamh ar an mbaile seo chun na mílte mílte daoine a mhealladh chuige.

Leithinis Baja
Tá clú agus cáil ar Leithinis Baja in iarthar Mheicsiceo de bharr na tránna bána fada, aillte móra agus cuanta áille inar féidir scíth a ligean.

Tá Guadalajara, Jalisco, ar maos le cultúr Mheicsiceo. Tá clú agus cáil ar an gceantar seo de bharr an tequila a dhriogtar ann, an ceol mariachi, na hataí sombrero, charreadas(taispeántais ghaiscíochta ar mhuin capaill) agus damhsa an hata Meicsiceo.

Cancun agus Yucatán
Téann na milliún turasóirí go dtí Cancun gach bliain mar go bhfuil 22 km de thránna ann, uisce glan, aimsir the agus iliomad óstán de chaighdeán ard. Is í an chathair is giorra don Eoraip agus tá eitiltí díreacha go dtí Cancun. Níl sé i bhfad ón gcuid eile de leithinis Yucatán inar féidir séadchomharthaí ó na Maya a fheiceáil. Má tá saoire sa ghrian cois fharraige uait, is é Cancun do cheann scríbe.

Chichen Itza
Ba chathair a thóg na Maya í Chichen Itza atá lonnaithe i ndeisceart na tíre ar leithinis Yucatán. Tá a lán le feiceáil ar an suíomh agus d’fhéadfá an lá ar fad a chaitheamh ag cur eolais ar an seanchathair. Tá pirimid iontach ann agus láithreán imeartha mór don chluiche a ghlaoitear pelotaair. Is é Chichen Itza ceann de na láithreáin stairiúla is tábhachtaí i Meicsiceo.

Chichen Itza – seo b’fhéidir an teampall is cáiliúla agus is fearr i Meicsiceo. Tá nathracha nimhe ar chiumhais na staighrí.

Is í Monterrey i dtuaisceart na tíre an tríú cathair is mó i Meicsiceo agus is í an chathair is saibhre i Meiriceá Laidineach. Tá sí suite idir sléibhte mar sin tá radhairc iontacha le feiceáil de na sléibhte ach déanta na fírinne níl an chathair féin thar moladh beirte. Níl cuma dheas uirthi. Is féidir tuilleadh eolais a chur ar stair na tíre san iarsmalann mhór, Museo de Historia Mexicana, i lár na cathrach. Feictear go soiléir na heachtraí a tharla i Meicsiceo. Díreach lasmuigh den iarsmalann, tig leat taisteal i mbád trí lár na cathrach chun cuid den chathair a fheiceáil.

Radharc den sliabh mór atá le hais Monterrey. Is séadchomhartha mór é an dealbh dearg sin ar dheis. An leagfaidh mé é???

San Cristobal de las Casas
Is seanchathair í San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas i ndeisceart na tíre ar a thugann a lán eachtrannaigh cuairt. Coimeádach na seanfhoirgnimh ón aimsir Spáinneach agus tá dathanna geala orthu. Tá sráideanna beaga inar féidir siúl chun eolas a chur ar an gcathair agus earraí a cheannach i margaí i lár na cathrach. Is daoine de bhunaidh Maya a bhfuil ina gcónaí ann a thugann féiniúlacht faoi leith di. Bogann an saol go réidh in San Cristobal de las Casas agus sin an fáth a thaitníonn sé go mór le turasóirí.

Grianghraf díom agus mé ar chuairt in Saltillo, cathair i dtuaisceart na tíre.

Bia blasta gan sárú

Is beag duine nach maith leo bia Meicsiceach. Tá ainm na tíre in airde ar fud na cruinne de bharr a bhia agus tá an cháil sin tuillte acu. Tá an bia gan sárú! Bíonn an bia lán de bhlas agus tá sé solamarach agus folláin. Níl bia na hEorpa i gcomórtas leis ar aon chor! Is fiú dul go dtí Meicsiceo don bhia amháin.

Is as Meicsiceo a d’eascair lear mór de na torthaí, glasraí agus spíosraí a itear ar fud na cruinne. Samhlaigh cé chomh tur is a bheadh bia mura mbeadh seacláid, trátaí, prátaí, arbhar Indiach, piobair, cillí agus a lán eile nach iad ar fáil. Is breá le Meicsicigh pónairí, cillí, trátaí, prátaí, papánna agus lintilí a chócaráil. Dáiltear rís in éineacht leis na pónairí. Itear guacamole agus toirtílí déanta d’arbhar Indiach le formhór na miasa. Ní bhíonn béile ar bith ann gan líomaí gearrtha le gur féidir an sú géar a stealladh ar an mbia chun an blas a fheabhsú.

Bia solarmarach le trí dhath – ar nós bratach Mheicsiceo. Thaitin sé go mór liom. Ba é an rud is deise a d’ith mé i Meicsiceo.

I measc na miasa is mó a chócaráiltear tá toirtílí (fillteáin aráin a dhéantar de phlúr arbhar Indiach nó cruithneacht), enchiladas, tamales, burritos, tacos, tortas (ceapairí de chirceoil, de mhuiceoil nó cáis agus glasraí i gcorn crua), piobair chillí pulctha agus quesadillas(toirtílí lán de cháis bhog agus de fheoil).

Mias le meascán de bhia éagsúil ó Mheicsiceo. Tá agua fresca déanta de bhainne, rís agus cainéil sa ghloine mór.

Tá anraith darbh ainm pozole (déanta d’arbhar Indiach agus muiceoil) ann atá an-bhlasta ar fad.

Más maith leat bia na mara a ithe, taitneoidh chipachole (anraith spíosrach déanta le portáin) agus ceviche (bia mara a chuirtear ar bogadh i sú líomaí nó líomóidí) leat.

Mias le ceviche, iasc a leasaítear le sú líomóiní.

Óltar deochanna darbh ainm aguas frescas (deochanna milse déanta d’uisce agus torthaí). Ól horchata(deoch ina bhfuil uisce, bainne, rís, cainéil agus siúcra) nó jamaica(deoch milis déanta de thoradh dearg). Tá deochanna darbh ainm licuados(caoineoga) coiteann freisin. Dar ndóigh óltar deochanna meisciúla freisin. Tá iliomad cineálacha tequilaann mar aon le beoracha. Ní chreidfeá go bhféadfadh sé bheith go deas ach tá deoch déanta de bheoir agus sú trátaí darbh ainm michelada. Caitear púdar cillí ar bharr chun blas níos fearr a thabhairt dó. Is deoch dheas í chun an tart a mhaolú ar lá te. Tá nós ag na Meicsicigh cuireadh a thabhairt do chuairteoirí ó thar lear banderitaa ól. Ní deoch amháin í ach trí dheoch a bhfuil trí dhath de bhratach na tíre orthu! Bíonn ort diurnán de shú líomóidí (uafásach!), diurnán de thequila agus diurnán de shangrita (deoch déanta de shú trátaí) a ól go tapa.

Niacha nacho?

An maith leat nachóanna a ithe? Chruthaigh an cócaire Ignacio Nacho Anaya nachóanna den chéad uair sa bhliain 1943 i mbaile darbh ainm Piedras Negrasis sa stát Cauhuila i dtuaisceart na tíre. Thaitin an ghreadóg déanta de sceallóga toirtílí le cáis leáite orthu chomh mór sin le daoine go bhfuil clú agus cáil orthu ar fud na cruinne. Reáchtáiltear comórtas nacho in Piedras Negrasis an dara seachtain de mhí Dheireadh Fómhair gach bliain chun an ghreadóg cháiliúil seo a cheiliúradh. (Dála an scéil, ní focal Meicsiceach é niacha. Creid nó ná creid, is focal Gaeilge é a chiallaíonn beagán nó blaisín mar sin is blaisín de nacho is éard is brí le niacha nacho.)

Taisteal inmheánach

Ós rud é gur tír mhór é, is féidir eitilt ó chathair go cathair nó is féidir taisteal ar bhus. Tá cuideachtaí airthaistil ann. Bain do rogha astu. Más mian leat taisteal go saor, taisteal le VivaAerobus (glaoitear Ryanair Mheicsiceo air).


Eitlíonn Aero México go dtí níos mó áiteanna laistigh agus lasmuigh de Mheicsiceo. www.aeromexico.com

Má théitear i muinín busanna, tógfaidh sé i bhfad níos mó ama ach tá busanna den scoth ann le cathaoireacha sóúla (tugtar adhairt duit do do cheann), Wi-Fi saor in aisce, teilifíseáin, bia agus leithris. Is rogha mhaith é más mian leat taisteal go saor nó go díreach go dtí baile nach bhfuil i bhfoisceacht aerfoirt.

Bí ar d’airdeall

Cé go bhfuil an bia i Meicsiceo gan sárú, bí cúramach. B’fhéidir go n-imreoidh Moctezuma díoltas ort. Is éard is brí le sin ná go mbeidh buinneach uafásach agat a bhfágfaidh craptha thú agus ag brostú go dtí an leithreas ar feadh an lae. Ná ith bia ar na sráideanna mura bhfuil sé cócaráilte. Ní féidir bheith cinnte an bhfuil sé slán. Má tá sé cócaráilte, beidh sé iontaofa.

Os rud é go bhfuil Meicsiceo sna teochriosanna, tá an aimsir teaspach. Tig le do chraiceann a bheithe dóite go han-tapa. Caith éadaí éadroma chun do chraiceann a chlúdach agus cuir uachtar gréine ort.

Faraor tá fadhbanna coiriúlachta i Meicsiceo agus dá bharr feictear an-chuid póilíní agus saighdiúirí ar na sráideanna agus lasmuigh d’fhoirgnimh. Bíonn an scrúdú slándála dian sula dtéitear ag taisteal ar na busanna. Scrúdaítear do mhála agus tú féin sula ligtear isteach ar an mbus thú. Ach ná bí buartha, is tír den scoth í agus níl mórán baol ann má táthar cúramach.

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