Welcome to my seventh annual Best of the Blog–BOB. As always, I want to thank regular readers and new visitors for their support, including social media shares. Special thanks to my wife, Angie Drobnic Holan: editor, webmaster … my dear companion.
Back to Ireland …
This year I made my ninth and tenth trips to the island of Ireland, traveling both times to the Republic and Northern Ireland. I’m starting this year’s BOB with a sampling of highlights from these 10 trips in just under 20 years:
May 2000: Pilgrimage to the Lahardane (Ballybunion) and Killelton (Ballylongford) townlands, North Kerry, birthplaces of my maternal grandfather and grandmother, respectively; and walked the Cobh waterfront where they emigrated in the early 20th century.
September/October 2001: Climbed Croagh Patrick … Interviewed surviving family at the Bloody Sunday Trust/Museum and watched testimony in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry at the Guild Hall, Derry. (Journalism fellowship from the German Marshall Fund.)
August 2007: (With Angie) Enchanted by the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise (Offaly) and Glendalough (Wicklow). … Attended first play at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin: The Big House, by Lennox Robinson.
February 2009: Researched historic newspapers and census records at the National Library of Ireland and The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin, before they were digitized and made available online.
May/June 2012: (With Angie) Attended the Listowel Writers’ Week and heard Paul Durcan recite his poem “On the First Day of June” … on June 1, 2012 … at the Listowel Arms Hotel, the River Feale framed by the window at his back. … Strolled the Kinsale to Charles Fort (Cork) coastal walk, stopping for a lovely outdoor lunch.
July 2016: Toured the Falls/Shankill neighborhoods of Belfast by Black Taxi … Visited Titanic Belfast … EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum … and Glasnevin Cemetary (Part 1 & Part 2), the last two in Dublin.
February 2018: Researched at the Michael Davitt Museum and grave (Straide, County Mayo); and read Davitt’s papers at Trinity College Dublin. (Part 1 & Part 2).
November 2018: Walked a muddy, cow-crowded road to reach Killone Abbey (Clare), following the footsteps of American journalist William Henry Hurlbert, who wrote of visiting the site in 1888.
July/August 2019: (With Angie) Cycled the Great Western Greenway from Achill Island to Westport (Mayo). … Hiked the circumference of Inisheer (Aran Islands, Galway) on my 60th birthday, and viewed the Cliff of Moher, which I had visited on my 2000 trip, from the sea.
November 2019: Presented my research about American journalist Ruth Russell’s 1919 travels to Ireland at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast for the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland annual conference.
Here are 2019 photo essays from both sides of the border:
- Meath, Downpatrick & Belfast
- Remembering the Dead, Belfast
- Antrim Coast
- In the West
- From Downpatrick to Croagh Patrick
- South Connemara to North Kerry
- Belfast Botanic Gardens
A few more photo essays from Irish America:
- Old St. Patrick’s Church, Chicago
- Art of Chicago/Galway sister city relationship
- Irish American Savannah
1919, Revisited …
This year I enjoyed exploring U.S. mainstream and Irish-American newspaper coverage of 1919 events in Irish history. Find all 32 stand-alone posts, plus the five-part monograph, Ruth Russell in Revolutionary Ireland, at my American Reporting of Irish Independence series.
Other history highlights …
- Henry Clive’s ‘face’ of Ireland in 1921
- From Marconi to Twitter in 100 years
- St. Colman’s Cathedral (Cobh) celebrated its centennial
- Douglas Hyde’s ‘American Journey’ re-launched in D.C.
- Ireland’s Carnegie libraries commemorated with new stamps
… and guest posts
I am always grateful to the contributions of guest bloggers. This year:
- A touching surprise at the Mansion House, Sister Cathy Cahill, OSF
- ‘Milkman’ is dark, grim & terrifically funny, Angie Drobnic Holan
- The slow death of the Freeman’s Journal, Felix Larkin
Other news of note:
RIP Lyra McKee, journalist killed in Derry on April 19. She was 29, the same age as Ruth Russell when the American reporter arrived in Ireland in 1919. … U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi–first, second, and third in succession of power in the American government–each visited Ireland in 2019. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. … Republic of Ireland golfer Shane Lowry won the British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland, the first time since 1951 the Open has been held on the island of Ireland. … American businessman Edward F. Crawford became the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. …Abortion and same-sex marriage were decriminalized in Northern Ireland, in part due to the dormant Northern Ireland Assembly. … See more at my monthly roundups from 2019 and previous years of Best of the Blog.
Libraries and Archives
Special thanks for the in-person help I received at these institutions in 2019:
- Catholic University of America, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, and Mullen Library, Washington, D.C.
- Georgetown University, Lauinger Library, Washington, D.C.
- Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
- Arlington Public Library, Central Library, Arlington, Va., and the numerous libraries that made books available through the Interlibrary Loan program.
- University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center, Pittsburgh
- Heinz History Center, Detre Library & Archives, Pittsburgh
- The Archives of the Sister of Charity of Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pa.
- The Newberry, Chicago
- Chicago Public Library, Herald Washington Library Center, Chicago
- Queens University Belfast, McClay Library Special Collections, Belfast
And digital assistance from these institutions:
- University College Dublin, Papers of Éamon de Valera (1882–1975), (Thanks again John Dorney of The Irish Story.)
- National Library of Ireland, Patrick McCartan Papers (1912-1938)
- University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, (Newspaper Collection), Springfield, Ill.
- Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main, Pennsylvania Dept. Collections
- Villanova University, Falvey Memorial Library, Joseph McGarrity Collection, Philadelphia
- University of Kentucky, Margaret King Library, Louisville
- University of Louisville, Ekstrom Library
- Louisville Free Public Library
- The Filson Historical Society, Louisville
- Library of Congress, Chronicling America
- Irish Newspaper Archives
Thanks again to all the librarians, archivists, and readers. Keep visiting this “journalist’s blog dedicated to Irish and Irish-American history and contemporary issues.”