Storm Brian brings flooding to Limerick city, disrupts rail service.
Ireland’s worst storm in more than 50 years has killed three people, disconnected power to more than 360,000 others, closed schools and businesses, blocked roads and halted transit systems, plus other chaos.
The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia lashed the island’s southwest coast with winds of more than 90 mph. Surging seas pounded coastal waterfronts as rainfall created scattered inland flooding.
Nearly 20,000 additional people were left without power in Northern Ireland as the storm moved northeastward across the island. Ophelia also disrupted talks aimed at restoring the Northern Executive and Assembly, The Irish Times reported.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was due to meet the DUP and Sinn Féin in Belfast … to encourage them to end the political deadlock. That plan had to be abandoned due to the storm, although there is a possibility he could meet the parties sometime on [17 October].
Eleven people died when Hurricane Debbie hit Ireland in September 1961. The National Geographic explains “three weird impacts” from the latest storm.
Margaret Cashill of Tampa, one of my former newsroom colleagues, suggested this blog post and sent along a few links. Thanks Margaret! MH
Columbia University President, George Rupp (left), presents Frank McCourt with the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
In April 1997, Frank McCourt’s memoir of his “miserable Irish upbringing” won the Pulitzer Prize for biography/autobiography. Angela’s Ashes had published a year earlier.
Twenty years on from the Pulitzer, there is a wave of developments associated with the book:
- Angela’s Ashes: The Musical is preparing to open this summer, with performances in Limerick, site of the book, as well as Dublin and Belfast. “There’s a recognition of the brand across the world. … But this is a show I want to stand on its own two feet in Ireland,” producer Pat Moylan told The Irish Times.
- Leamy House on Hartstonge Street in Limerick, the author’s old school, has been purchased by a Limerick businessman. The building hosts multiple tenants, including the Frank McCourt Museum, which the new owner plans to keep in place, according to the Limerick Leader.
- The Leader also reported that hundreds of people have contributed to a large montage portrait of the famous Limerick writer.
McCourt was born in New York. His parents returned to their native Ireland during the Great Depression. He was 67 when Angela’s Ashes won the Pulitzer.
In a September 1996 book review under the headline “Generous Memories of a Poor, Painful Childhood,” The New York Times wrote:
“Writing in prose that’s pictorial and tactile, lyrical but streetwise, Mr. McCourt does for the town of Limerick what the young Joyce did for Dublin: he conjures the place for us with such intimacy that we feel we’ve walked its streets and crawled its pubs. He introduces us to the schoolmasters who terrorized (and occasionally inspired) their pupils, the shopkeepers who extended credit to the poor and the priests who listened to the confessions of young boys preoccupied with sex and sin and shame.”
McCourt later wrote ‘Tis (1999) and Teacher Man (2005). He died in 2009.
Sir Terry Wogan, a Limerick-born star of the British Broadcasting Corporation, died 31 January after a short bout with cancer. He was 77. Read the BBC’s obituary.
In The Guardian, Martin Kettle writes that Wogan rarely drew explicit attention to his Irishness.
And yet, although he lived, worked and died in Britain, was knighted by the Queen, and was never reluctant to wave the union jack when the needs of the BBC required it, his Irishness was there whenever he opened his mouth. For more than 40 years he was probably the most prominent Irish person, and certainly the most familiar Irish voice, in Britain, rivaled for fame only by [footballer] George Best and Bono, neither of whom could match Wogan’s length of time in the spotlight.
…Whether he liked it or not, Wogan was a significant Irish presence in Britain right through the era of Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley. To some Irish nationalist eyes that may perhaps brand him as someone who made dubious accommodations with Britishness at a sensitive time. To his British listeners, however, and possibly to many of his Irish ones too, Wogan was a reminder that there was also much more to the British-Irish relationship than nationalist and loyalist politics, and that people on both sides of the Irish Sea have more in common than some of them sometimes like to pretend.
Irish Times columnist Martin Doyle wrote that “Ireland has had no finer ambassador to Britain.” Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Wogan “acted in no small way as a bridge between Ireland and Britain.”
I’ve written earlier of Tim McDonnell’s efforts to start a food collection to help feed the hungry in Tampa through the Salvation Army in the spirit of St. Patrick. It’s been quite an accomplishment for the former executive director of Chicago’s Irish American Heritage Center since he arrived in Tampa about two years ago.
Tim just got back from his third trip to Ireland/Northern Ireland at the beginning of October. (His mom is from Brownstown, Co Kildare; his paternal grandparents from Westport, Co. Mayo and Bruree, Co. Limerick.) Below is Part 1 of Tim’s guest post:
The Spirit of St. Patrick
Absolutely worth visiting is the St. Patrick’s Trail and all of the St. Patrick sites on the northern half of the island (where St. Patrick spent his time). The top 3 ‘must do’ sites, though, are: 1) the St. Patrick Centre exhibition and his grave in Downpatrick (he is buried alongside St. Brigid, St. Columcille, and Arthur Guinness’ grandfather – truly ‘holy ground’! – next to Down Cathedral); 2) St. Patrick’s first church at Saul – one of the more spiritually engaging sites on earth, comparable to the experience we had at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sisteen Chapel in Vatican City (as my friend Tim Campbell says “Saul is very ‘thin’…..the distance between heaven and earth there is very slight”); 3) Croagh Patrick – we lucked out with clear skies and were able to climb Ireland’s holy mountain, where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and by legend ‘drove the snakes out of Ireland.’ It will take a bit of faith and endurance to get all the way up, particularly at the top with the loose rocks and vertical climb – but it is the most spiritually rewarding thing that I have ever done, and it also blesses all climbers with the best views on the island.
The view from the summit.
Also worth visiting is Ulster Scots country up in the northeast. People of this heritage informed us that they believe that Northern Ireland is a Scottish province on the island of Ireland and that calling the Ulster Scots Irish is like calling Canadians Americans. They also told us that the inhabitants of Ireland were referred to by the Romans as the “Scoti” in the 4th and 5th centuries and were known to be part of the Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riata, which spanned the west coast of Scotland and the eastern part of Ulster in what is today’s Northern Ireland. They characterized the creation of the Ulster Plantation of the 17th century, which helped lay the foundation for a few hundred years of conflict, as ‘just the Scots returning home.’ Interesting stuff and worth a bit of homework. Although the history, cultural dynamics, and politics are a bit complicated, the north is breathtakingly beautiful, and the people are as welcoming as anywhere else on the island.
Check back within the week for Tim’s thoughts on food in Ireland and a story of the country’s most famous jockey. MH