Snap, Craickle and Pop: The Controversy of Popular Gaelicisation

Ever since Ireland was told that the black stuff might not be Irish, but rather a porter stout from Covent Garden, the country has descended into a frantic state of uncertain soul-searching and impassioned reflection to clarify once and for all what is actually ‘Irish’ (potatoes, Gaelic Storm, and Saint Patrick aside).   But now the most quintessentially ‘Irish’ institution of them all is under intense academic scrutiny, the much celebrated notion of ‘the craic’ (and that’s before considering the … Read more

Shared Origins

At least two centuries before the great boulders of Stonehenge were placed on a windswept Salisbury Plain, and over 500 years before the Great Pyramid of Giza rose from the deserts of Egypt, Neolithic architects in the Boyne Valley (Brú na Bóinne) were laying the foundations of one of the most studied structures of the ancient world. An imposing earthen mound in County Meath (an Mhí), its original name has been lost to the jealous mists of history. But the … Read more

Orange EU Funding: An Opportunity to Exercise Responsible Society

Following the news that The Loyal Orange Order have received a grant of almost £900,000 from the European Union to help address the legacy of the Troubles and encourage cross-community interaction, people across the island of Ireland can only stand back in expectation of what is to follow. Unsurprisingly, the decision has been met with support by many members of the Unionist camp, not least in the halls of Stormont. DUP MEP Diane Dodds triumphantly proclaimed that, “this money will … Read more

Clinkers, Rivets and Flatcaps: Celebrating Titanic and the Men Who Built Her.

The panicked screams of the dying could be heard long after Titanic broke in two and finally slipped under the icy waters of the North Atlantic. By the time the last voices faded and the inky dark became silence once more, over 1,500 souls had met a terrifying and lonely fate. The disaster was a human tragedy from start to finish, the consequences made even more poignant by a sequence of poor and hurried decision making from conception to demise. … Read more

The Problems of Centralised Government: The Ill-considered Constraints on Economic Recovery in Northern Ireland

Nobody will argue that the United Kingdom is in choppy financial waters. On March 26, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development charted the cost of Britain’s recession at a cumulative output loss of £87 billion, or 6% of GDP. All very interesting, but what do cold percentages and unqualified numbers mean for the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? The simple answer is a drop in real wages and a critical lack of jobs. The unemployment rate in … Read more

Political Progress and Educational Sectarianism

Northern Ireland’s past echoes with the haunted politics of division, its communities littered with the graves of over 3,000 victims of shameful brutality. When Peter Robinson spat that, ‘the only input that Unionists want into the Anglo-Irish Conference is a stick of gelignite’, not even the most ardent optimist would have predicted that he would one day attend a GAA match as the honoured guest of Martin McGuinness.

 But the progress is real and it is, I daresay, sincere. In … Read more