Leprechaun economics

The Independent and other sources report that claims that Ireland’s economy grew by by 26% last year are “farcical” and wildly inaccurate. While the Irish economy is in good shape, the numbers were inflated because they included multinational companies in this particular report. Consumer spending growth is actually close to 5%.

The revelation is being mocked internationally, and the ordeal has been dubbed “leprechaun economics”, referencing folklore in which gold given by leprechauns turns out to be enchanted and far less valuable than it seems on the surface.

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Very much hyped to meet Martin Lynch again

In an interview with TotAL Politics, Lynch stated that his writing style is heavily influenced by what his mother would think of it, or as he says “would she understand what I’m trying to say here, would she be bored by this stretch, does this go on too long here and so on. Here’s a link to that interview, which I highly recommend: https://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/news/chronicles-long-kesh-martin-lynch-interview

I hope that on Friday I’ll be able to ask him if he’s ever had a confrontation with anyone who is represented in  History of the Troubles and weren’t happy with how they were written. And, especially with his new play The History of the Peace Accordin’ to My Ma, how does he process and write about an atmosphere or event when he doesn’t know how it’s going to turn out in the end?

My thoughts on The Wake at the Abbey

When Vera first steps out on stage, she is surrounded by a backdrop of stars, alone. This was all that was needed to establish her isolation and her fear of being un-tethered from her home soil. The backdrop shifts slowly to a road map, its web of streets suggesting connecting, but also a sense of tangling. This is the essence of Vera’s conflict: to go on attaching herself to her family, whose greed and manipulation are far more vulgar than her exhibitionism, or to embrace the void.

I loved reading the script, but seeing anything on stage will be rawer and truer. The natural way the characters interrupted and overlapped each other, the apparent ease of the dialogue, made it clear to me how much work, discussion, and dramaturgy went into rehearsal. Lines that sounded like a car starting and stopping on the page when I read it on my own became fluid and natural in the theatre habitat.

Aisling O’Sullivan is killer as Vera, perfectly riding that thin line between laughing something off and breaking down completely. Her “heigh-ho” catchphrase, which I found confusing in the script, became a manifestation of her desperate will to go on when I saw it on stage. Her monologue in Finbar’s place was perfection; the sobbing she finally allows herself at the very end gave me chills. She was the picture of both vulnerability and courage, two words that first come to mind when I describe Vera.

Damn, man, snaps to that cast. An incredible production and performance by everyone.

 

Wicklow and Dublin

I’m so happy that Glendalough was added to the itinerary, so shout out to Terri who made it happen not five minutes after it had been suggested. It’s quite the juxtaposition from the morning and afternoon spent in the bucolic Wicklow mountains and then immediately coming to the bustling capital.

Glendalough is a 1,200-year-old monastery set in a glacial valley about an hour south of Dublin. Surrounded by steep hills and a lush forest, I was struck with its energy and beauty. Nessa told us that the oaks in those woods are some of the oldest in Ireland, as the plantation system and Cromwell campaigns left widespread deforestation in their wakes.

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I feel as though Ireland needs to chill. Honestly, it’s just showing off now.

And then we went to Dublin. After a bit of time relaxing in my room, I felt a little guilty that I was sitting in the middle of a city and not enjoying it. I told myself I should go find and ATM and some dinner, and set out on my own to explore. And I got lost. But I found my way back! Without a stable wifi signal and no data, I managed to retrace my steps thanks to the Dublin Spire on O’Connell St.

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You the real MVP.

When I was in Dublin last, we stayed mostly around the O’Connell Street/ Temple Bar/ Trinity College areas. I got to wander through some quieter neighborhoods today, away from the commercial hubs and plentiful fast food joints. I felt comfortable, and like I was blending in a little instead of looking like a tourist. I’m usually terrified of being lost, but today it felt good to be on my own, walking around without any in particular to be.

 

 

Sounds like my Thanksgivings

I tried reading Portrait when I was much younger and maybe didn’t quite have the reading comprehension skills to grasp it, but the thing that stuck out to me in this excerpt was the argument about the role of the Church in Irish independence. I realized that in learning about the history of the region that there was a separation between the religion of those supporting an Irish Republic and the actual institution of that religion. And I was someone disappointed in Dante’s (not in Joyce’s writing of her) that a female character was so uncritical of the Catholic church, since (and I am speaking as someone who grew up Catholic and had this experience) the Vatican has never kept women in its fold. Even nuns, I find do their work as insular, independent groups, even directly disobeying the Vatican in some instances, which is why nuns are hardcore and will always have my respect. I had wished to see a radical woman of the time, but I trust that Joyce has a better understanding of the opinions of the time.

Take a drink every time I say “The last time I was here…”

It says a lot about me that I snap to dissonance first. As last time in Armagh, and in NI, I feel this pull between a need to remember, and an instinct to move on. As we’ve been here, we’ve heard the phrase “we don’t know” a lot, mostly in relation to the Brexit decision; it’s impossible to foresee its consequences until the moment it happens, and there could be tremendous effects on NI’s funding for cross-community development, its economy, and the future of its border with the Republic.

Similarly, when Malachi O’Doherty, AP’s journalism faculty, visited our class on Wednesday, he talked about one of the very first clashes of the Troubles, which he was there to witness. He remembers how no one knew what was actually happening– who was on the offensive, who was shooting where. You can imagine (and many of us can) hearing gunshots in a city and how they echo and ricochet, and not being able to tell where they’re coming from. Now, Malachi and many journalists still struggle to build an accurate account of what happened during those decades. At the same time, families of those killed are advocating for investigations into their loved one’s death.

This morning, it’s the dissonance that resonates with me. I woke up to the news of the shooting at Dallas, where snipers shot at police officers, killing four, while peaceful protestors ran from the gunfire. The protestors were there marching against the unjust executions of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two more Black men killed by police. And I can only wait for answers about who these snipers are, what they want, and pray that they are not associated with the peaceful movements that have been trying to find justice for those killed by police. Over and over we call for investigations, and inquiries, and reports, and so rarely do we get the facts.

An alternate ending to The Wake

I had a lot of trouble with this one. I think the ending to The Wake is pretty masterful. It isn’t afraid of devastating the reader and its protagonist, and it’s such a raw moment when Vera finally lets her laugh fall over the line into raw grief. I root for Vera. I want her to be happy. But her sadness and isolation says more about the dynamic of her family and her own life than a welcome home does. It’s hard to tell if she’ll be stronger for it in the long run, if her acceptance of her solitude will break the bond with people who have manipulated her, or if it will break her.

So, since the play begins and ends with Mrs. Conneely, I thought an alternative ending where she takes Vera in. Maybe it’s altruistic, but I think she partly wants to alleviate her own guilt for not having discovered Vera’s grandmother earlier. It’s plausible that Mrs. Conneely still doesn’t want to be seen as a bad neighbor. I think Vera might reluctantly take her up on it, because this is still a familiar person with whom she could belong, who had a relationship with her grandmother whom she loved. It’s an ending that still leaves you wondering how Vera’s psyche will hold, but at least gives her some comfort after her decision to let the hotel go, and her family along with it.

They play Nirvana on classic rock stations, so the 90s count as history

At the last John Hewitt Festival, I got a glimpse of a world leader as she had her picture taken wit a little girl: Mary Robinson, who was the first female president of the Republic of Ireland.

Robinson, who was elected in 1990, took office at a time when the presidency was regarden as more of a ceremonial position rather than one of great influence. The president in the Irish government is the executive authority, and controls the military like the U.S. president, but leadership over the legislative body, the Dail  (there is an accent over the “i” and is pronounced “Dahl”) is under the Taioseach. The position seems similar to the Speaker of the House in American Congress.

But Robinson was a powerful force and used her office to drastically change the cultural landscape of Ireland. She was a progressive, supporting the decriminalization of homosexuality and the accessibility of birth control, but still maintained a relationship with religious leaders. She was an advocate for the poor and disenfranchised, work she continued after her resignation in 1997, when she became the High Comissioner of Human Rights at the UN.

Robinson still lectures on human rightsaround the world, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009.

Alternative Realities

A game of two truths and a lie. My falsehood was I was questioned by police as a suspected identity thief. We were instructed to write monologues based on the lie but I free-wrote some dialogue instead.

“Officer, why am I here? Am I being charged with something?”

“Are you who you are?”

“Excuse me?”

“Is this your real name?”

“…yes?”

“No it’s not.”

“Huh?”

“We caught you, Laurie.”

“Who?”

“You know how long I’ve been chasing you? Pretty much since internet shopping has existed. I gotta give you props, I’ve never met anyone who got away with it as long as you.”

“Away with what?”

“Identity theft, Laurie. I know everything. And you know I know so cut the shit.”

“I’m telling the truth! The shit has been cut!”

“Do you enjoy it? Stealing? Dive-bombing people’s lives and credit scores?”

“No I don’t! I’m not this Laurie person, I’m me! Me! Me who was born in Spokane and had a cat named Zomo who died when I was 8 and whose first kiss was Marty Findel and who moved to Little Rock for him but he dumped me and who after that became the first woman garbage person in Arkansas and you can look up the article they wrote about me and who just got a new cat and named him Pierre!”

“That’s a great cover story, Laurie, but you’ve had plent of time to constru–”

“Here’s my driver’s license and my social security card.”

“I– oh. Hmm.”

“Is everything in order?”

“Ma’am, I’m afraid you may be a victim of identity theft.”