BLOGPublished: Irish Times, 9 July 2011
IN THE MUDDY SLUMS OF JUBA, the people are preparing for a party. By 11pm, tens of thousands of them have poured out onto the streets: cheering, honking car horns and waving the flag of their new country, as well as those of the US, Norway and Israel.
At the stroke of midnight, South Sudan becomes the world’s 192nd independent nation. In the new capital, joy is unconfined. In the mud huts that stretch for miles in every direction, residents can be heard singing and ululating well into the night.
By 7am, the BBC World Service reports a crowd of a hundred thousand already gathered at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum. The speeches here will last late into the afternoon. But despite a complete lack of respite from the sun, the people never once cease to sing, sway and chant… Read the rest of this article here.
Published: Irish Times, 19 March 2015
Tá Seachtain na Gaeilge orainn. Or rather, bhi sé. Our two-week national celebration of the Irish language actually ended on Tuesday. But if you happen not to be either a biddable school kid, or an adult whose public-sector job requires paying occasional lip service to the language, odds are the event bypassed you entirely.
As a Gaeilgeoir, I derive no particular pleasure from admitting this. But as minority pursuits go, our first language now languishes somewhere between salsa dancing and Ultimate Frisbee, in terms of its popularity amongst the general populace. Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Times, 9 March 2013
It’s 7.15am at the Dry Arch filling station in Letterkenny and a hard frost is down outside. A lorry driver bounds in from the darkness, rubs his hands together and orders a bowl of porridge at the hot food counter. In the corner, Sky News is reporting live from Los Angeles, where post-Oscar festivities are still in full swing.
But customers here don’t pay the TV much attention. It’s Monday morning, it’s -5°C and we’re a long way from Tinseltown. Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, 9th August 2014
His teammates call him Monkey, because he is a scaffolder by trade. And in the heyday of Ireland’s construction boom, there was never any shortage of bars for him to swing from. Chimneys, church spires, gable walls: Christopher McCrudden scaled and scaffolded them all.
“Housing estates were the best,” the Ballyhaunis man recalls. “A single estate in Galway might be six or eight months work: putting up, taking down, adapting.”
They were carefree times. “Lads were out buying cars, backing horses, drinking pints. We didn’t worry about the future because we were making good money every week. It didn’t occur to us the work might ever run out.” Read the rest of this entry »
There is more after the jump.
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Published: Irish Times, 23 May 2014
I’ve picked up the tickets at the kiosk. The match programme is tucked under my arm. And if there were a merchandise stall hereabouts, I’m sure I’d have bought the T-shirt. With show time at the Samuel Beckett Theatre rapidly approaching, only one minor detail remains unclear.
What is this spectacle that we are about to enjoy? What is Tundra, apart from the opening show of Dublin Dance Festival? Details are vague. Emma Martin, its choreographer, told The Irish Times last weekend that “Tundra is an in-between place, a metaphorical purgatory where you have to work through your difficulties to move on.” Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, 26 April 2014
The international code is for the United Arab Emirates. I dial the thirteen-digit number I’ve been handed and wait for a response. In a hotel lobby, some 4,000 miles away, an English-speaking receptionist connects me to Roy Keane’s room.
What is it, I ask him, about footballers and Dubai? Can’t you guys take your holidays anyplace else? The former Manchester United captain sounds relaxed and in good humour. “I’m working here,” he jokes. “Trying to find some new Irish lads, you know yourself.” Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, 19 April 2014
In January of this year, a little known Irish gossip website landed a major scoop that every other news outlet in the world had somehow contrived to miss. In Pyongyang, North Korea’s official news agency just announced the hermit kingdom had landed an astronaut on the sun.
Now even by the standards of that crackpot regime, this was an unusually farfetched claim. And the wording of the story should have offered further grounds for scepticism. (The North Korean spacecraft, apparently, had “travelled at night to avoid being engulfed by the sun’s rays.”) Read the rest of this entry »
Published: Irish Independent, 22 February 2014
Almost six decades after fleeing her homeland as a refugee, in the wake of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising, Maria Kelemen still speaks with a strong Hungarian accent. Diminutive yet formidable, the director of Dublin’s Young European School of Music has the air of a stern, if slightly eccentric, headmistress from a Disney fairytale. Read the rest of this entry »
#5The Bald Truth (January 5th)
Baldness (specifically, my own) is a subject I get endless mileage out of. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because baldness, like death, is final and irreversible. And hence rather amusing. Or maybe I just need stuff to write about. If I ever write a piece where I disingenuously pretend to be in the market for a wig, and get pictures of me trying a bunch of wigs, you’ll know the wolf is truly at the door.
#4 Should We Trust Trip Adviser (May 4th)
I didn’t know much about Ireland’s libel laws before setting out to write this feature for the Indo. By the time it went to press, I could have passed the fucking bar exam.
#3 Down in Lisdoonvarna (June 24th)
Throwaway travel piece.
#1 The Toughest Journey (March 9th)
By far the most clicked story ever on this blog and also the one I’m proudest of having done. It was in Galway in October of last year (doing this story) that I heard about how cancer patients from the Inishowen peninsula have to undertake a gruelling 600km round trip to receive treatment in Galway. It took five months of intensive nagging to get on board. Eamon McDevitt is the man who provides this vital service and there is a link to donate to his Good and New charity in the comments.