Wednesday 19 September 2018

John Waters

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Mr Justice, Kevin Cross, chairperson, of the commission, at the launch of the public information campaign on the referendums. Photo: Damien Eagers

Not exactly what it says on the tin 

It is well established that up to half of voters make their minds up about the issues in the final week of a referendum campaign, and that a critical element in assisting many voters to a conclusion is the widely distributed literature of the Referendum Commission. Such material enjoys widespread credibility because it retains a strong aura of independence and neutrality. For the Commission to deviate from its established practice of providing non-aligned, dispassionate information about constitutional amendment would be a deeply dismaying development for our democracy.

Harry Gleeson

Nobody cried for Harry Gleeson 

I have spent many hours over the past 17 years in the company of a man called Harry Gleeson. Lately he's been in the news, his faded, waistcoated image featuring alongside newspaper reports - like one of those grainy album photographs of long-dead relatives, gawky innocents standing smilingly in their good suits as though from the mists of time. Gleeson is about to be granted the State's first ever posthumous pardon, on foot of his conviction and execution in early 1941 for a murder he did not commit.

Only the the infamous graffiti covered 'U2 Wall' is remaining

Windmill Lane destruction: apt ending for a misunderstood story 

On the "plan your tour" page on the website of Sun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee, it says: "If music was a religion, then Memphis would be Jerusalem and Sun Studio its most holy shrine". Visitors are promised free parking and explications of the origin of the "Sun sound", created by Sam Phillips "to capture the pure ram energy of Beale Street" (the nearby legendary two-mile boulevard frequented for a century by buskers of the blues). The website elucidates: "He didn't know not to use so much echo - a 3-piece band sounds like an all-night party! He didn't know not to crank the amp up so...

Protesters march on the streets of Dublin during a demonstration against water charges. Photo: PA

Will Saturday's water rally be the day when sitting ducks who forked out for austerity finally stand up to be counted? 

When we were kids, before people got water piped into their houses, rationing was second nature. My mother had a special kettle on the open kitchen fire for the hot water bottles, filling it each evening from the cold bottles. We got our drinking water from the public "pump" (actually, by then a tap) up the street outside Miss Conway's Teach Osta. When you're fetching your water by the...

A walk in the park: Lucinda Creighton, TD for Dublin South East, with John Waters. Photo: David Conachy.

Can we rise above loving 'the Celtic Phoenix'? 

Lucinda Creighton has the air of belonging to Ireland as it is rather than as anyone thinks it ought to be. She can't easily be filed under isms or sorted into boxes. Claremorris, where she comes from, is one of those places often pointedly disposed of as a 'small town' in Mayo. But it's a town connected to many other such towns - and the countryside in which it is embedded - by a personality and a way of being that goes deeper than words. The sum of such places is the greater part of what we are.

John Waters

The Meeting: from the meaning of love to the limits of nihilism 

'What does the world like about Italy?' The title of a discussion that happened on Monday at 3pm in Sala A6 of the Rimini Fiera. I had been invited to take part, alongside an Italian who runs a tableware factory, a journalist and TV producer, the curator of a large design company and a diplomat from the Italian embassy in Beijing. One of the great mysteries of the Meeting of Rimini is that there is always an audience for everything, and sure enough we found ourselves with a full house - perhaps 300 people stuffed into the comparatively tiny hall, and an overflow of another...

Niamh Horan in the front row of the scrum with Fiona Spillane, Lisa Callander, Ali Bird and Aoife Maher

Tweeting the life out of our culture 

Turn your back for two minutes nowadays and there's a storm on Twitter. Usually it's about something someone said or wrote, which has caused 'offence'. People are outraged and incensed and demanding all kinds of consequences for the accused. People you know will start to tell you all about it, or send you links to posts and Tweets and what-not. Then, as often as not, the 'controversy' will erupt into the 'mainstream media', which will prosecute the offender with the same enthusiasm as the tweeters and trolls.

Cllr Kate Feeney at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties on Thursday afternoon by the Patrick MacGill memorial on the bridge. Photo: Jason McGarrigle

Listening for the true notes 
in the hills 
of Donegal 

The relationship, when juxtaposed, of Irish politics to Irish poetry is as between the lapel and the buttonhole chrysanthemum. The first has delusions of usefulness but is really no more than a self-important affectation, a redundant sartorial appendix, 
a puzzling hangover from a 
mystifying and inaccessible prior functionalism. The chrysanthemum is conscripted to add a gracing aspect, but no one doubts - least of all the chrysanthemum - that in the process it has lost its life and glory.