Category Archives: Business & Environment

Catching up with modern Ireland

March was a newsy month for Ireland, including the failed constitutional referendum, a sour St. Patrick’s Day visit to the White House, and the shock resignation of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Here’s some coverage and commentary that has caught my attention:

Varadkar resignation, Harris ascension, Donaldson resignation

Varadkar

The messiah complex: Neither Leo Varadkar, nor anyone else, could be a ‘savior’ of Fine Gael, Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times (Ireland)

“He was able, articulate and – in the twin crises of Brexit and the Covid pandemic – reassuringly adept. But his great talent was for riding out contradictions, not for resolving them. He managed to walk the line between politician and anti-politician, conservative instincts and an increasingly progressive society. …”

Update 1: The governing Fine Gael has selected Simon Harris as its new leader. There was no opposition to him within the party. At 37, he is set to become Ireland’s youngest taoiseach on April 9; a year younger than Varadkar when he took the job in June 2017. Some are already calling Harris the “TikTok Taoiseach.”

Harris was first elected to the Dáil in 2011 and managed Ireland’s COVID-19 response as minister for education, research and science. He has dismissed calls for a general election before the scheduled contest in March 2025.

Update 2: Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, abruptly resigned March 29 after being charged with sexual offenses. Leaders of the Northern Ireland say the development will not impact the power-sharing government, but it has rocked Irish and British politics.

Reverse reads on referendum result

Ireland’s Snakes of Secularization“, National Catholic Register (USA)

There is a very understandable desire among the faithful in Ireland — and elsewhere — to interpret this month’s rejection by Irish voters of a pair of “woke” constitutional amendments as a decisive Catholic inflection point. According to this narrative, the unexpected and overwhelming rejection of these amendments represents a watershed moment in terms of reversing the tide of secularization that has washed over Irish society in recent decades. Unfortunately, that’s probably untrue. … The hostility of voters toward the progressive inanities expressed by both amendments can’t be taken as a sign that secularism is now generally on the wane in Ireland — or that a concomitant rebirth of Catholic faith is broadly underway.

Ireland and the terrible truth about wokeness“, Spiked (England)

Ireland has become hyper-woke. Its elites are fully converted to the gender cult. They promote the ruthless policing of ‘hate speech’, which really means dissent. They damn as ‘far right’ anyone who raises a peep of criticism about immigration. Their culture war on the past is relentless. Woke is the state religion of Ireland now. And if you thought Catholic Ireland was sexist, irrational and illiberal, just wait until you see what wokeness unleashes. … The irony is too much: in ostentatiously distancing themselves from bad old religious Ireland, the elites have created a system of neo-religious dogmas that makes the Catholic era seem positively progressive in comparison.

Green (and blue) at the White House

Biden

Can the Irish Get Biden to Change His Policies on Gaza?, New York (USA)

Many of the actual Irish — the ones who came over from Éire for this annual celebration of the shamrock diaspora — spent the afternoon trying to talk sense to Biden over his Gaza policies, and his confounding (to them) support of Israel’s relentless military response to Hamas. … The Irish have a long-held kinship with the Palestinians. They see parallels between their struggle against Israel and the Irish struggle against British rule. They see in the famine that is gripping Gaza today a tragic echo of their own. This has been true for decades, but never more so than now. … So just beneath all the stout suds, these were the fault lines on display at Biden’s St. Patrick’s Day party this year: his assumption that the Irish were his friends and that so were the Israelis. But it’s no longer so easy to be both.

Three more stories:

  • Britain is appealing a ruling against its Legacy Act, which gives amnesty to ex-soldiers and militants involved in Northern Ireland’s “Troubles.” Victims’ families have challenged the law, and a Belfast court in February ruled it breached human rights. The Irish government is separately contesting the law before the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Rose Dugdale, who left a life of wealth to become a partisan activist fighting for Irish independence in the 1970s, died in Dublin, aged 82.
  • The Central Statistics Office launched the Women and Men in Ireland Hub, ” which features data from the CSO and other public sources broken down into six main themes: Gender Equality, Work, Education, Health, Safety & Security and Transport.

The Lartigue monorail’s 1888 opening–illustrated

In about the same time that it takes to read this sentence, I could take a photo (or short video) by tapping my smart phone, upload the image and a few words of description to any of several social media platforms, and publish the content for viewing on a similar device or computer nearly anyplace in the world. Just … like … that.

Images and words did not move as quickly on Leap Year Day 1888, when the Listowel & Ballybunion Railway opened between the two County Kerry towns. The 9.5-mile, elevated single-track system–a monorail–came to be known by the surname of its inventor, Charles Lartigue. It would operate through October 1924.

It took a month for illustrations and descriptions of the Lartigue to reach U.S. newspaper readers in 1888. The words and images appeared from late March until June, often edited to say the service opened “a few days ago,” but occasionally citing the unusual Feb. 29 date.

The three-image display above is from the April 7, 1888, issue of The Daily American, Nashville, Tennessee. The images first appeared March 10, 1888, in the The Illustrated London News[1]Image on page 246; story on previous page.

An accompanying story in the Tennessee paper was attributed to the London Standard. A different story, most likely from another British paper, appeared in the Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Indianapolis (Indiana) Journal, Savannah (Georgia) Morning News, Sunday News-Leader of Wilkes-Berra, Pennsylvania, among other U.S. papers. The content in a few cases was attributed the New York Graphic.[2]The New York Graphic most likely was The Daily Graphic: An Illustrated Evening Newspaper, published from 1873 to 1889. It should not to be confused with the New York Evening Graphic, published from … Continue reading

Several U.S. papers published the signalman image (above, bottom right), typically cropped in a single column square. A similar-sized illustration of the Lartigue’s twin-boiler steam locomotive and pannier-style passenger carriages also appears in the displays of several papers. It is enlarged below for easier viewing.

This “railway and train” image was not from The Illustrated London News. Other illustrations of the Lartigue circulated in popular periodicals until black and white photographs of the monorail became widely available before the end of the century. The British Strand magazine featured eight photos with an 1898 story written by William Shortis, the Ballybunion station manager. Robert French of the William Lawrence studios in Dublin photographed the line, though the precise date of his assignment to Kerry is unclear.

Black and white moving images of the Lartigue were captured by the British Pathé newsreel company. Its “Along the Line” film is inexplicably dated to 1931–seven years after the monorail was discontinued and scrapped. I’ll have more on the Lartigue closing in October.

As I’ve written earlier, the quirky Lartigue provides a perfect movie opportunity for the eccentric styles of film directors Wes Anderson or the Coen brothers.

This illustration is taken from the Lartigue Museum in Listowel, Kerry. Date and original source unknown.

References

References
1 Image on page 246; story on previous page.
2 The New York Graphic most likely was The Daily Graphic: An Illustrated Evening Newspaper, published from 1873 to 1889. It should not to be confused with the New York Evening Graphic, published from 1924 to 1932, or a London weekly published under several variations of the Graphic banner from 1869 until the 1930s.

Photo essay: 50 years of Ireland in the European Union

Ireland this year marks 50 years of membership in the European Union. The short video below explains the history and how Ireland’s membership has helped the country’s development. Below the video are several images from my current visit to Brussels, including a stop at the Parlamentarium, a multi-language, multi-media museum at the E.U. headquarters.

Ireland at the heart of Brussels

Multi-media display of Ireland’s 13 MEPs at the Parlamentarian, the EU museum and visitor center. See them all from this link.

The museum declares James Joyce is “one of Europe’s best-known writers.” He lived in Dublin, Paris, Zurich, Rome, and Trieste, Italy.

Sign outside the Embassy of Ireland in Brussels, unofficial capital of the E.U., is written in Irish, English, French, and Dutch.

Kilkenny Limestone has supplied Irish blue limestone for street and sidewalk projects in central Brussels since 2019. This work site is outside the newly renovated Bourse, the former Brussels Stock Exchange, circa 1873.

Of course, there’s an Irish pub in nearly every major (and minor) city. This is one of several in Brussels.

Catching up with modern Ireland

As we begin the final quarter of 2023, here’s another of my periodic roundups of external stories about contemporary Ireland and Northern Ireland. Enjoy:

  • The DUP is expected to publish its response to new British/E.U. rules intended to smooth the impact of Brexit in Northern Ireland. This is just ahead of the party’s Oct. 13-14 annual conference. That makes October a make-or-break month for reviving the collapsed Northern Ireland Assembly, veteran correspondent Shawn Pogatchnik writes at Politico.eu. The DUP walked out of the North’s power-sharing executive 18 months ago.
  • The British Parliament passed the Legacy and Reconciliation Bill, which will stop most prosecutions for killings by militant groups and British soldiers during the Troubles. The move has united opposition from Northern Ireland’s major political parties, Catholic and Protestant churches, human rights organizations and the United Nations, the Associated Press reports.
  • The Republic of Ireland has a massive budget surplus, thanks to a boom in tax revenue from multinational companies. Whatever Dublin lawmakers decide to do with the money, “someone will be unhappy,” says The New York Times.
  • About 200 right-wing protestors harassed and threatened politicians, government staff, and journalists outside Leinster House, the country’s legislative home. “The crowd was apparently united not so much by a cause – their messages included Covid conspiracy theories, anti-immigration messages and attacks on transgender rights – as by a willingness to use aggression in a bid to shut down the heart of Ireland’s democracy,” The Guardian reported.
  • It remains unclear whether a referendum on general equality in the republic will take place in November, as promised. The government has not released the ballot language and suggested the vote might be delayed. A citizens assembly has recommended replacing existing language in the Irish constitution that states a woman’s “life within the home.”
  • U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs Joseph P. Kennedy, III, will host an Oct. 24-26 business conference. A U.S. delegation will join Northern Irish business leaders who have “started or grown” operations during the 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement.
  • Luke Gibbons, one of Ireland’s most profound if idiosyncratic cultural critics, seeks to bring Ireland’s early 20th century political and cultural revolutions into the same framework in an important new book, James Joyce and the Irish Revolution: The Easter Rising as Modern Event, Adam Coleman writes at Jocobin magazine.
  • The Notre Dame University “Fighting Irish” football team defeated the U.S. Naval Academy team 42-3 in late August at the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. The sold-out game at Aviva Stadium included nearly 40,000 fans who traveled directly from the U.S., according to media reports.
  • A group of 10 American travel professionals visited Ireland in late September to develop new luxury travel itineraries for their clients, according to Irish tourism officials.
  • The Central Statistics Office continues to release detailed data profiles from the republic’s April 2022 census. Here are some of the latest highlights:CSO graphic.

Arthur Gleason’s ‘inside’ reporting of post-Rising Ireland

(This post continues my exploration of how American journalists covered the Irish revolution. Visit the project landing page to access earlier work and resources. MH)

The United States’ April 1917 entry into the First World War had two immediate impacts on Ireland: increased scrutiny of Irish American efforts to support the revolution in ally Britain’s backyard, first exposed a year earlier during the Easter Rising; and more American newspaper correspondents based in London to cover the arrival and battlefield engagements of U.S. troops on the continent. In addition to their eastward journeys across the English Channel from Dover to Calais, these reporters also travelled westward across the Irish Sea, usually boarding the overnight mail boats from Holyhead to Dublin.

Arthur H. Gleason, date unknown

Arthur H. Gleason was among the first American journalists to assess post-Rising Irish nationalism within the British Empire. Born in 1878 in Newark, N.J., he graduated from Yale University in 1901 and joined the New York Tribune as a reporter. For 10 years from 1903 Gleason worked as a writer and editor at Cosmopolitan, Country Life in America, and Collier’s Weekly magazines. At the outbreak of the war in 1914, he joined the Red Cross and served with the Hector Munro Ambulance Corps in Belgium. Gleason was briefly captured by the Germans, but managed to escape and report his observations of the front lines, including several popular books about the war, notably Golden Lads, co-written with his wife.[1]“Arthur Gleason papers, 1863-1931”, MSS18382, Library of Congress, and multiple newspaper obituaries.

Gleason rejoined the Tribune in 1916 as a European correspondent as U.S. entry into the war became inevitable. Arthur Draper, another of the paper’s London correspondents, had covered the Rising in Dublin. He was “an outspoken proponent of including interpretation in foreign news reports,” rather than the just-the-facts presentation of the wire services.[2]Gerald L. Fetner (2017) Modern Foreign Correspondents after World War I: The New York Evening Post‘s David Lawrence and Simeon Strunsky, American Journalism, 34:3, pp. 313-332. Gleason wrote a series of articles for the Tribune‘s op-ed pages that aimed to educate readers about war conditions in Great Britain. He also produced articles on the same topic for Century Magazine. This work was collected nearly word-for-word as the book Inside the British Isles, published in spring 1917.

BRIEF VISIT

Gleason made what he described as a “brief visit” to Ireland, apparently before the end of 1916, to detail nationalist restiveness. “Sane opinion in Ireland is well aware that in any solution Ireland remains inside the federation of the British commonwealth,” he wrote, “but the status toward which the intelligent Irish work is that of a self-governing nation, like the free colonies.”[3]Arthur Gleason, Inside The British Isle (New York: The Century Co., 1917), p. 173.

Gleason’s analysis focused more on economic, market, and labor conditions than politics. He reported:

The real Irish question is poverty. … The slums of Irish cities are among the worst in Europe. … Many of the farms are too small for economic working, and what there is of them is not good enough soil. Much of the best tillage remains in the hands of landlords and is used for grazing instead of the production of crops. The hope of Ireland lies in trade unionism, education, and cooperation. Ireland’s real problem is to increase production and distribute prosperity.[4]Ibid, pp. 206-209, and “Poverty: The Real Irish Question”, New York Tribune, April 11, 1917.

Gleason viewed wealthy Irish Americans as an important source of this hope. At the time of his visit, he “found Ireland stimulated” by the news that Henry Ford proposed building a tractor factory in Cork city, near the industrialist’s ancestral homeland. The reporter continued:

If the very rumor (of Ford’s plant) has given cheer to an underpaid population, how much new hope will flow in if Irish Americans whose hearts bleed for Ireland will invest some of their money in Irish agriculture and industry. A few million dollars invested where the heart is will relieve a pressure on Ireland, which today is resulting in bad housing, undernourishment, overwork and an undue proportion of pauperism. The real Irish question is not solved by political wrangling and chronically jangled nerves inside the island, nor by hot temper at long distance. The Irish Americans who have planted the tradition of Ireland’s wrongs inside the United States are two generations out of date. … American money is not needed for nationalist propaganda. It is needed for agricultural and industrial development. Our rich Irish Americans can do an immense service to Ireland. They can aid to set her free. But not by parliamentary debates, speech-making campaigns, and pitiful abortive rebellions. They can set her free by standing security for land improvement, better housing, the purchase of machinery and fertilizer plants.

Gleason interviewed and quoted English social and economic academics such as Graham Wallas, Sir Alfred Eckhard Zimmern, and Sir George G. Butler. He also discussed matters with Irish nationalist writers and journalists James Stephens and George William Russell, known by the pseudonym AE, and he quoted Ulster leader Sir Edward Carson. Gleason did not meet or mention Sinn Féin leaders Arthur Griffith, Eamon de Valera, and Michael Collins, who were incarcerated by the British at the time.

PRESS ASSESMENT

Gleason spoke with Dublin-born Lord Northcliffe, a powerful press baron of London’s Fleet Street. The reporter devoted one of his Tribune op-eds and a chapter of his book to a comparison of the British, Irish, and American press. He wrote:

I think the little independent spirited Irish weeklies are admirable. They sass the censor and the Lord Lieutenant and the (Dublin) Castle. I met some of the editors—poor men and honest, editing and writing papers in which they believe. They seem to me worth all the sleek, timid New York crowd put together. … A man believes something hard, and, being Irish, he has the knack of statement, so he publishes a paper.[5]Inside, p. 263, and “A Batch of Papers”, New York Tribune, May 10, 1917.

New York Tribune headline of Gleason’s May 10, 1917, piece on the press.

Privately, Gleason shared drafts of his Irish reporting with key sources for their approval before publication, a common practice at the time but anathema to most modern journalists. His regular correspondents included Butler and Lord Eustace Percy, a British diplomat.

“Butler has handed me your article on Ireland: neither of us feel quite comfortable about making ourselves responsible for it to the extent of giving it special facilities for transmission to America as it stands at present,” Percy wrote to Gleason, then living in Hove, Sussex, on the English Channel coastline 65 miles south of London. “My criticism of your article is not that it is hostile to this country (though I think that is the net effect of it) but that it is not really calculated to enlighten America. … You are carrying coals to Newscastle in writing for America sentimental impressionism about great political problems.”[6]Percy to Gleason, Dec. 28, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers.

Gleason replied two days later.[7]Gleason to Percy, Dec. 30, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers. He agreed to make some “modifications” to the content and withdraw other passages from his Tribune and Century dispatches; but not from the book, which he argued provided fuller context of the relationship between the two islands. “I want the article to be passed,” Gleason wrote, an acknowledgement of the realities of war-time censorship in Britain, which would soon to be duplicated in America. “I think you will agree I have met you seven eighths of the way.”

Gleason bristled at Percy’s charge of sentimental impressionism. “That which is excellent in Belgium and Serbia does not become ‘sentimental’ or selfish in Poland or Ireland. It merely remains the same principal for which French and English (and soon Americas) are fighting—the right of self-government.”

MISSING CONTENT

Gleason’s reporting from Ireland was subject to further editing. Soon after the publication of Inside The British Isles, he wrote to Douglas Z. Doty, editor at the Century publishing company, to complain that “heavy hunks” of content totaling 16 pages had been cut from the manuscript. “Everything that explains the state of mind, everything that voices the young men, has disappeared,” Gleason complained. “Poems, quotations, the statement of a young rebel to me, all have disappeared.”[8]Gleason to Doty, June 4, 1917, Arthur Gleason papers.

Praise for Gleason’s book came from papers within the British Isles. Belfast Newsletter, April 1, 1918.

He questioned whether the missing material resulted from “editorial exigency” in New York or censorship by the British Foreign Office, which he claimed had approved the manuscript. The missing material, according to Gleason, included quotes from several Irish political leaders, among them Helena Malony, a 1916 Easter Rising participant and member of Cumann na mBan, the Irish republican women’s paramilitary organization. Malony’s feminism and labor activism were especially relevant to Gleason’s broader social and economic interests.

Also missing from the book, Gleason wrote, were his analysis of the Dublin rebellion; a tribute to the Gaelic League and similar Irish organizations; a poem written by executed Rising leader Pádraic Pearse; and references to The White Headed Boy, a 1916 comedy drama by Irish playwright Lennox Robinson.

Nevertheless, Inside the British Isles won praise on both sides of the Atlantic. “It is welcome as a contribution to the discussion which is not merely of interest to Ireland, but to thousands of Irish well-wishers and sympathizers in this country,” said one American review.[9]”The Irish Problem”, Buffalo (N.Y.) News, Aug. 27, 1917. An advertisement in the Irish press (image) collected several favorable reviews.

SCUTTLED INVESTIGATION

Gleason returned to America as Irish separatists launched a guerilla war against the British military and police in Ireland. He continued to work on labor and economic issues through the New York-based Bureau of Industrial Research and with social reformer Paul Underwood Kellogg. They co-authored British Labor and the War in 1919. But Gleason’s insights about Ireland were called upon again in late 1920.

Oswald Garrison Villard, editor of the weekly liberal journal the Nation, organized the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland on behalf of pro-Irish interests. He invited dozens of U.S. senators, state governors, big city mayors, college presidents and professors, religious leaders, newspaper editors, and other prominent citizens to form and oversee the eight-member panel of inquiry, which was not affiliated with the U.S. government. Villard and his supporters also intended to send a five-member investigative team to Ireland, including Gleason.

Other members of the proposed delegation included:

  • Major Oliver P. Newman, a journalist, sociologist, former Washington, D.C. commissioner and U.S. Army veteran of the Great War;
  • Rev. Norman Thomas, a Presbyterian minister, socialist political candidate, and publisher of the World Tomorrow;
  • James H. Mauer, a progressive labor leader and president of the Pennsylvania State Federation of Labor; and
  • Robert Morse Lovett, dean of the University of Chicago.

For several weeks in November and December 1920 the New York Tribune, Gleason’s former employer, and other American newspapers published conflicting reports about whether the group would, or would not, be issued passports to visit Ireland; based on the approval or objections of the U.S. or British governments. The dispute continued as the commission, which included Newman, Thomas, and Mauer, opened public hearings on conditions in Ireland at a Washington hotel.

Privately, Gleason was skeptical of the investigative delegation to which he was publicly named. “Unless the strongest kind of commission is sent to England and Ireland, it will be better to send none at all,” he wrote to Villard. “To send a half dozen unknown or slightly known persons will injure the cause of good-will you have at heart. The work will be discredited, or treated with indifference and irony.”[10]Gleason to Villard, Nov. 24, 1920, in Oswald Garrison Villard Papers, 1872-1949 (MS Am 1323), Harvard University, Box 37, Irish Commission, 1920-1921.

Gleason subsequently complained there were too many socialists in the proposed group, with “no bishop, no judge, no ‘big’ business man. So idealistic a commission will not avail.”[11]Ibid. “Since writing the above…” handwritten on same letter.

The proposed delegation scuttled by the time the commission concluded its hearings in January 1921. A month later another group of American investigators travelled to Ireland as part of an overlapping effort called the American Committee for Relief in Ireland. This group’s account of distress in Ireland was released within days of the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland report based on the Washington hearing testimony. Pro-Irish supporters cheered the two narratives critical of British rule; the British government condemned both reports as exaggerations and fabrications; and U.S. officials mostly tried to remain neutral and outside the fray.[12]See my earlier posts American investigators visit Ireland, February 1921, and American visitors describe ‘Distress in Ireland,’ April 1921.

EARLY DEATH

Though unstated in his letter to Villard, Gleason’s reluctance to join the proposed Irish delegation also might have been based on his skepticism of Irish American political meddling in the conflict, though he encouraged economic investment, as noted above. In his 1917 book, Gleason wrote:

The irreconcilable Irish in America had seemed to me a set of men “scrapping” volubly for the sake of words and dissension.  … (It is) the bitterness of Roman Catholic pulpits in Boston and Chicago, the railings of mass meetings in New York, the irresponsible perorations of Irish-American politicians that chiefly threatens the future of Ireland. … (Progressive British people) cannot and will not accept from America the last and worst doctrine of reaction.[13]Inside, pp. 173, 191.

It does not appear that Gleason wrote more about Ireland after 1917. The island was partitioned in 1921 as the war with Britain ended and devolved into the year-long Irish civil war. The revolutionary period that began at Easter 1916 ended in May 1923.

Gleason died of meningitis on Dec. 30, 1923, two weeks after his 45th birthday. He is buried in Washington, D.C.

References

References
1 “Arthur Gleason papers, 1863-1931”, MSS18382, Library of Congress, and multiple newspaper obituaries.
2 Gerald L. Fetner (2017) Modern Foreign Correspondents after World War I: The New York Evening Post‘s David Lawrence and Simeon Strunsky, American Journalism, 34:3, pp. 313-332.
3 Arthur Gleason, Inside The British Isle (New York: The Century Co., 1917), p. 173.
4 Ibid, pp. 206-209, and “Poverty: The Real Irish Question”, New York Tribune, April 11, 1917.
5 Inside, p. 263, and “A Batch of Papers”, New York Tribune, May 10, 1917.
6 Percy to Gleason, Dec. 28, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers.
7 Gleason to Percy, Dec. 30, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers.
8 Gleason to Doty, June 4, 1917, Arthur Gleason papers.
9 ”The Irish Problem”, Buffalo (N.Y.) News, Aug. 27, 1917.
10 Gleason to Villard, Nov. 24, 1920, in Oswald Garrison Villard Papers, 1872-1949 (MS Am 1323), Harvard University, Box 37, Irish Commission, 1920-1921.
11 Ibid. “Since writing the above…” handwritten on same letter.
12 See my earlier posts American investigators visit Ireland, February 1921, and American visitors describe ‘Distress in Ireland,’ April 1921.
13 Inside, pp. 173, 191.

Catching up with modern Ireland

Here’s another of my occasional posts with headlines and curated content about contemporary Ireland and Northern Ireland. Enjoy:

Ireland’s Central Statistics Office released the country’s latest census figures, a snapshot of the Republic from April 3, 2022. Highlights include:

  • The population exceeded 5 million (5,149,139) for the first time in 171 years. This is an 8 percent increase from 2016. All counties showed at least 5 percent growth.
  • The proportion of the population who identified Roman Catholic fell to 69 percent from 79 percent in 2016. The “No Religion” category increased to 736,210 people from 451,941.
  • Almost 80 percent of Irish households have a broadband internet connection, up from 71 percent in 2016 and 64 percent in 2011. Nearly a third of workers indicated they did their jobs from home for at least part of the week.

The CSO’s Summary Report is the first of nine 2022 census releases. More detailed reports on topics such as housing, homelessness, and religion will follow throughout the year.

CSO graphic.

Other stories:

  • The Irish nationalist Sinn Féin party, which supports reunification of Ireland, followed last year’s historic Northern Ireland Assembly victory by defeating their pro-Britain unionist rivals in May council elections by a wide margin. Sinn Féin for the first time is the largest party at the local and provincial levels. The Assembly remains in limbo, however, due to the Democratic Unionist Party’s refusal to participate in the power-sharing government.
  • Ireland’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in May, a record that surpasses the “Celtic Tiger” period of two decades ago. Unemployment in the North fell to 2.4 percent, slightly below pre-pandemic levels and just 0.1 percentage point shy of the record low.
  • Almost all sectors of the Irish economy will fail to meet 2030 carbon reduction targets, The Irish Times reported; while warming weather and rising seas continue to demonstrate the impact of climate change. A proposal to slaughter 200,000 cows to reduce methane emissions generated blowback from the agricultural sector, as expected, and from outside actors ranging from PETA to Elon Musk.
  • The Republic’s Department of Rural and Community Development has launched a 10-year “Our Living Islands” initiative to repopulate nearly two dozen islands from Donegal to Cork.
  • The New York Times detailed Ireland’s vanishing fishing fleet, following a similar story from Euronews.com in January.
  • Former President Donald Trump, now under state and federal indictments, earned nearly $25 million from his golf property in Doonbeg, County Clare, during his four years in office, Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington has reported. The revenue was part of a $160 million haul from overseas businesses with interests in U.S. foreign policy. Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence each stayed at Doonbeg at taxpayers expense while in office.

The entrance of Trump’s Doonbeg golf course in County Clare during my July 2016 visit.

Catching up with modern Ireland

I was pleased and grateful to return to Ireland this month for the first time since before the COVID pandemic; my 11th visit since 2000. I’ve included two photos from the trip as I conclude Irish Heritage Month with one of my periodic posts of curated content. Enjoy:

Minard Castle, west of Inch Strand, on the south side of the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry.

  • Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, is stepping down after 14 years in the role and a total of 21 years with the promotional organization. The job will be filled through an “open international competition,” said Christopher Brooke, chairman of Tourism Ireland.
  • A pilot program in the Republic is giving 2,000 artists $350 a week with no strings attached, allowing them to concentrate on creative pursuits. “Worrying about putting bread on the table really impacts artists’ creative juices,” Catherine Martin, Ireland’s culture minister, told the New York Times. “This is about giving them space to work.”
  • Ireland plans to hold a referendum in November to delete references to a woman’s place being in the home from its 86-year-old constitution, the government announced. The country has already removed bans on abortion and permit same-sex marriage. More coverage from the Irish Times.
  • As the Irish government lifted an eviction ban, historian Diarmaid Ferriter made the connection to what happened in Ireland during the 19th century.
  • Ireland’s rugby team defeated England 29-16 to win the Six Nations Grand Slam championship.

St. Patrick’s Day parade in Kilkenny town. Yes, it was a showery, but cleared later in the day.

N. Ireland trade tweak passed without DUP support

UPDATE:

The U.K. and E.U. March 24 have formally adopted a new plan to ease post-Brexit trade tensions in Northern Ireland — despite ongoing objections from the region’s Democratic Unionist Party, Politico reports.

ORIGINAL POST:

Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party has further isolated itself by refusing to support a key provision of how Brexit impacts the region. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has abstained from the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly for more than a year because of its objections to the trade deal.

Special trade arrangements are necessary because Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland share the only land boarder impacted by Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and now a new trade “brake.”

Six DUP Members of Parliament (London) March 22 voted against the “Stormont brake,” designed to give the Assembly more leverage on how E.U. laws apply to Northern Ireland. The measure passed by 515-29, with a handful of Tory MPs also in opposition, notably former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

“We want to see the restoration of devolved government (the Assembly, also know as Stormont, after the legislative building in Belfast), but we’ve got to do it right,” said DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

An early March poll by the nationalist-leaning Irish News and the Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool found 45 percent support for the framework, with about 17 percent opposed. Nearly 39 percent neither accepted or rejected the deal. Opposition within the DUP was nearly 23 percent, compared to 36 percent support and 41 percent neutral.

U.S. President Joe Biden, during St. Patrick’s Day remarks in Washington, D.C., called the framework “a vital step … that’s going to help ensure all the people in Northern Ireland have an opportunity to realize their full potential.”

The White House announced that Biden will visit Northern Ireland in the second half of April to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. It seems doubtful the Assembly will be reconstituted by then. Biden also will visit the Republic during the four-day trip.

(This post will be revised as necessary. Email subscribers should check the website for updates. MH)

Police shooting adds to Northern Ireland tensions

UPDATE 3: (Feb. 27)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has arrived in England for talks with British Prime Minister Ursula von der Leyen and King Charles III. An agreement on resolving the Northern Ireland protocol is expected. Whether the deal is accepted by the Northern Ireland’s DUP and Tory Euroskeptics is another matter. I will report the outcome in a fresh post. MH

UPDATE 2: (Feb. 26)

Three more men (a total of six) have been arrested in connection with the shooting of DCI Caldwell, who remains in critical condition. People across County Tyrone demonstrated over the weekend to show their support for the officer and opposition to any any return “to the bad old days” of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. … A deal on the Northern Ireland protocol is said to be tantalizingly close. As is typical with provincial politics and with Brexit, however, it just as easily could be scuttled at any moment.

UPDATE 1: (Feb. 23)

Three men have been arrested in connection with the attempted murder of Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell. In an online statement, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said: “Our main line of enquiry is that violent dissident republicans carried out this vile attack and within that a primary focus is on the New IRA.”

Republican dissidents “have long tried – and consistently failed – to escalate a violent campaign” in the north, The Guardian reported. “It is not about Brexit, the Northern Ireland protocol or the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement. It is not about sparking a Troubles 2.0. It is about showing they exist.”

But Brexit, the protocol, and the GFA anniversary are part of the mix. Here’s an analysis of the trade talks from The New York Times.

ORIGINAL POST: (Feb. 21)

The shooting of an off-duty police officer in Omagh, Northern Ireland, could disrupt efforts by the United Kingdom and European Union to reach a revised trade agreement for the province. Such a deal is being tied to reopening of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, which has been shuttered for a year.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Feb. 22 gun attack, “but politicians from all sides agreed that one of the small IRA splinter groups still active in the U.K. region must be to blame,” Politico reporter Shawn Pogatchnik wrote in a early dispatch from Dublin. Such an assignment of blame seems premature, perhaps irresponsible. (Pogatchnik, a U.S. native, has covered the island of Ireland for more than 30 years.)

The officer remained alive at the time of this post. The last murder of a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer was in 2011; the last shooting of one was in 2017, according to the BBC.

The Democratic Unionist Party withdrew from the Northern Ireland Assembly last February in protest of how Brexit treats the flow of goods in and out of the province. Unionist say the arrangement, or “protocol,” treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K. by imposing E.U. rules on goods crossing the border with the Republic of Ireland. This is the only land interface between the U.K. and the E.U. The compromise was conceived and signed off by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as part of his pledge to “get Brexit done” three years ago and has caused problems ever since.  Many residents and observers (including U.S. officials) worry that a “hard border” between the North and Republic will spark a return to the sectarian violence of the Troubles.

U.K. and E.U. negotiators this week said they were within sight of a new protocol, but unionist remained skeptical.

The shooting and the trade talks are both developing stories. This post will be updated over the next few days. Email subscribers should check the website for the latest details. MH

‘Always Ireland’ is a lovely, modern guide to Erin

My wife wants to bring Always Ireland: An Insider’s Tour of the Emerald Isle, on our March trip to you-know-where, our first return since the COVID pandemic. “No way,” I say. “That book is too beautiful, and too heavy, to carry in our luggage.”

So we let author and County Wicklow native Justin “Jack” Kavanagh have the last word. He describes the new 336-page hardcover from National Geographic as an “inspirational travel book,” a next-generation guide for an age when nearly all of us carry smartphones that put all the practical details at our fingertips.

“This is more of a dreamer’s guide to Ireland,” Kavanagh told me during a Feb. 1 zoom from Philadelphia, where he divides his time with his native country. “This is the kind of book that sits on your coffee table for maybe six months before you want to go. You can just dip in and out of it.”

The book offers more than 200 half- to two-page vignettes of Ireland’s natural, cultural, and historical attractions. And the island’s dearest treasure—its people—are highlighted in a feature called “Irish Voices,” which introduces readers to historian Diarmaid Ferriter; harp maker Kevin Harrington; singer-songwriter Christy Moore; wild animal conservationist David O’Connor; and nomadic Irish Traveler Helen Riley, among many others.

The “Great Irish Drives” and “In the Know” sidebars offer more conventional suggestions on route planning and where to sleep and eat. “Irish Gardens” and “Taste of Ireland” highlight flora and food (and drink!), respectively.

The book is sectioned into the five “newly reimagined regions” of contemporary Irish tourism: the Ancient East; Munster & the South; the Wild Atlantic Way; Ulster & Northern Ireland; and Offshore Ireland. While it’s still grand to know your grandparents’ or great grandparents’ county and townland of origin, that’s not how modern visitors want to see Ireland, Kavanagh says.

And because Always Ireland is produced by National Geographic, the 300 photos are gorgeous and perfectly illustrate his smooth and informative prose. Kavanagh is an authoritative voice from an iconic source. He has worked as a writer and editor for National Geographic International Editions, overseeing earlier guide books about Ireland, Cuba, Japan, New York City, and other destinations. He says there is a growing recognition these conventional publications are being “fast-tracked to obsoletion” by technology.

New approach

Always Italy, the first book of this new approach, was released in March 2020, just as the world shuttered and shuddered from COVID. These books lean slightly toward the first-time visitor, says Kavanagh, who also leads Nat Geo’s “Ireland: Tales and Traditions” tours.

Because he has split his life between America and Ireland, Kavanagh says he aims to provide readers and travelers with both insider and outsider perspectives, with “what is expected and what is unexpected.” He learned a few things himself in researching the book.

I couldn’t resist asking Jack two obvious questions: his favorite spot in Ireland, and what attraction does he most regret the island has lost over its many centuries of history?

                                     Jack Kavanagh

“Glendalough,” came his first answer. And why not? He grew up just a bicycle ride away from the sixth century monastery founded by St. Kevin. “To me it’s the center of the world,” he says. “It’s a spiritual home, a place of rest. There’s some ancient energy there.”

To the second question, the music devotee answered the centuries of Irish compositions that were lost or never came to be, because the patronage system of the Gaelic chieftains ended with Anglo-Irish rule. The penal laws meant Irish music went underground, so while we are left with various tunes by itinerant musicians such as the legendary blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan, we’ll never know what might have been if Ireland’s earls had not been put to flight. But while much of that pre-eighteenth century music is silenced forever, there’s still plenty of traditional Irish music to hear played in pubs and other venues, as celebrated in the book.

Unexpected magic

Whether you pack Always Ireland or not, (it’s also available as an e-book) the real key to visiting Kavanagh’s homeland is the willingness to leave behind hurried, regimented schedules and open your soul to the possibilities of interacting with the people and places on its lovely pages … and those that are not.

“Ireland is not an A to B to C to D kind of place,” he says. “The magic is when you go around the corner and find something unexpected; not where you are going to stay tonight and what you are going to eat. That’s what you get in Ireland that you don’t get in a lot of places in the world.”

That was true when visitors carried pocket guidebooks and folding maps; it remains so for those who carry smartphones.

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A guest post by Kavanagh will publish here a little later. MH