How Ireland lost thirty nine famous paintings – Week II

Thu, Sep 18, 2008

The sinking of the Lusitania on May 7 1915, off the Cork coast, by a German submarine electrified Ireland, Britain and America. In Ireland, the fact that German submarines were lurking so close to the Irish shore, added fuel to the propaganda that Germany was planning to invade the country. It spurred recruitment into the armed forces. In Britain, the shameful practice of using passenger liners to carry munitions across the Atlantic without telling the passengers they were in effect travelling on a British war ship, was to come to an end. But it was too late for more than 1,000 men, women and children who lost their lives. And ironically for Germany, the Lusitania proved to be a Pearl Harbour. Among the dead were 114 Americans which caused such an outcry in the US that it led to their coming into the war, and ultimate victory for the Allies.

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A heavy shadow over Coole

Thu, Sep 11, 2008

In Roy Foster’s impressive biography of WB Yeats* he tells an interesting anecdote concerning the sinking of the RMS Lusitania off the Cork coast on May 7 1915. The Galway writer Violet Martin (the second half of the caustic but amusing Sommerville and Ross duo), was walking by the sea near Castletownshend, Co Cork, when she saw the Lusitania pass in ‘beautiful weather’. Half and hour later, as the ship steamed passed the Old Head of Kinsale on her way to Liverpool, it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Nearly 2,000 people perished.

I have written about the sinking of the Lusitania before, telling the tragic story of young Annie Kelly of Newbridge, Mountbellew, who followed her boyfriend, William Murphy, to America only to be turned back by emigration for failing her medical examination on Ellis Island. She was sent home on the Lusitania, which left New York minutes before her boyfriend arrived with a permit allowing her to stay.

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A King of the Jungle foiled by the King of the Jungle!

Thu, Jul 31, 2008

IT’S A FACT, but a sad fact if you are a bookmaker, that no matter what a punter’s losses are, if he hears that it was a bad day for even one bookmaker, he smiles as he tells his wife the annual fib, that he lost only half what he really lost.

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Sligo must be punished, but how?

Thu, Jul 24, 2008

The Galway Arts Festival has become such an enormous event (in fact it is now an international event of significance), that it is a bit like the Lisbon Treaty: You can’t see all of it; and while many of us see its value to the community, there are parts of it I don’t quite like.

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For King and Country

Thu, Jul 17, 2008

It’s very hard to describe a true Irishman, without acknowledging that we all share a complicated inheritance. At no time was that complication more powerfully amplified than in the crisis of identity leading up to and during War World I. On the one side is the unionist image of Irish Protestants loyally, and exclusively, rallying to the Union Jack, and sealing that union with their blood; while on the other side, the Catholic and nationalist men and women, the people of the 1916 Rising, who represent the ‘true’ Ireland, in sharp contrast to the misguided Irishmen slaughtered in France on the altar of British imperialism.

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