Here is a question for you: If you were to die today, would you mind being on display in a few hundred years time? As a tourist attraction? And would it make a difference how well preserved your mortal remains were? Would you be indifferent, horrified or would you classify the exhibition as lacking in ethics?
By being asked this question, you actually have a better chance of preventing this happening than many "tourist attractions" in Ireland had. Because dead people can be seen - and whether they know that they are dead or not, they are not known to voice an opinion. But what about the ethics of dead people on display?
It was one of those days ... you know them ... stuffy, hot, the car is an oven. Who needs air conditioning in Ireland after all? This summer day I was sincerely missing it. In addition, it was one of those days ... a headache that is too minor to be tackled through the wonders of modern chemistry, too major to be ignored, too distracting to make you enjoy the day ...
Which would have been just another day on the road. Until the curative powers of a Holy Well (in which I did not believe) came into play. Not a scientific discovery, I suppose, but a strange coincidence at least.
You know how it is ... you read those stories, or had them read to you, where innocents find their way through the wood. Only to arrive at a cottage, lonely and isolated. Homely. And more than often home to a witch ... run or be baked! Well, the Brothers Grimm did their best to spook generations of children (and a few impressionable adults) with the heart-wrenching story of Hansel and Gretel, abandoned by cruel parents in times of need, seduced by the gingerbread cottage, caught by the dastardly witch.
Mind you, a witch is not necessarily a bad person (like, when she is named Glinda and from the South) - so I was not really trembling in fear when I discovered, by pure chance and on my way to a disused, ruined friary, the witch's cottage ... lonely, isolated, homely, in the woods and complete with cats.
Ten of the best - Ireland's festivals promise a lot for 2013. Back are Slane (Twice!) and Oxegen (Changed utterly!), the Electric Picnic has apparently just about survived and with Longitude a new contender will enter the ring. From old Hair-Metal-rockers Bon Jovi to folksy Mumford and Sons, from Icelandic artist Björk to controversial rapper Eminem (... if he makes it this time ...) there should be something for everyone. Even the dance crowd will be pleased, with David Guetta headlining Oxegen.
Not so good news for people in Meath who liked their food Greek ... the Navan restaurant "Poseidon" has closed its doors and been remodelled as a pizzeria. Yassou!
A new report on Irish crime statistics is making headlines these days and many of those headlines focus on the immense rise (around fifty percent) regarding "Dangerous Driving". Hang on ... are you in mortal danger each and every time you use a public road in Ireland? Not really: The increase can be explained by the rise in recorded speeding offences, which went hand in hand with the introduction of camera vans. So people drive the same way as ever, only now they get caught.
I couldn't help but smile when I picked up an old acquaintance of mine last weekend ... taking him for a drive around the beautiful (and on that day sunny) counties of Sligo and Leitrim on the trail of poet W.B. Yeats. "Kuddl" (to preserve his anonymity) during his time at university "did" Yeats ... and four decades later he wandered in the great man's footsteps. With a slight look of panic on his face.
You see, I wouldn't call him a control freak, but he had a hard time switching from his trusted left-hand drive vehicle to being a front seat passenger in my right-hand drive one. He still was in "the driver's seat" and whizzed through a landscape without the controls he was used to. On narrow lanes. It was quite funny to see him twitching and doing the old "there used to be a brake down there"-shuffle with his feet.
Which made me think ... my top twelve driving tips for Ireland are all well and good, but maybe we should add Number 13? As in: "It can be even harder for the passenger!" But what to advise? Maybe one of those sleeping masks they hand out on the plane ...
The Boston Bombings are a sensitive issue - for many reasons. Three people killed and dozens maimed in a blast that hit the population without warning, without discrimination, without any sense beyond simply spreading terror. And that's what terrorists do ... they cause terror, by any means possible. And if we let terrorists terrorize us, they have already scored. A simple truth.
To me, the bombings also demonstrated that, wherever you are, you are never really "safe". Safe as in untouchable. It only takes one guy (or gal) with a home-made weapon, primitive as it may be, and a will to use it ... and all you need to do is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately, these days any place may fit that description, long reserved for identified conflict zones and random "Acts of God". Boston, Baku, Belfast ... it is all the same (with Baghdad being, however, still in a very different category of "wrong place").
One reaction to the Boston Bombings I noticed was the urging to visit Boston, as a sign of solidarity, to boost the local economy, to show the terrorists that you are not terrorized. Well, the same argument could be made for Northern Ireland, long regarded simply as "a dangerous place". So, in the light of current events ... what actually keeps you from going "up North"? An unspecified fear that it might be "not safe"?
Let's face it ... it might not be safe in your neighbourhood one day, by accident or by somebody's nefarious designs. And, generally speaking, Northern Ireland is as safe as anywhere if you watch out for signs of trouble. But you should do that anyway when travelling ...
Now this is interesting ... according to the Sunday Times, ancient monuments will now be digitally scanned to preserve them for the future. It is all part of the 3D-ICONS project. And amongst the to-be-scanned in Ireland are Newgrange, Navan Fort, Tara, Clonmacnoise and the Walls of Derry (or Londonderry, depending who does the scan, I suppose). I hate to point out that they will be scanning a reconstruction at Newgrange, not the original prehistoric monument, but there you go ... sounds like a worthwhile project anyway.
But while reading the article, I stumbled across a remark attributed to Mark Lusby, heritage-coordinator for the Derry Walls - that "it took 45 minutes to walk the length of the monument, so it was difficult for visitors to appreciate all their features". So the scanning process will help, in facilitating the construction of an accurate model. What is wrong with this picture? Read More...
The World Economic Forum ranks Ireland as one of the most welcoming countries in the world. So wrote Max Fisher on the Washington Post website. He also wrote about countries that are amongst the "rich and peaceful of the Western world (Ireland, ...)". Apparently, the economic crisis and factual bankruptcy this "rich" country has been in for the last few years has not quite registered. And as to peaceful ... it all depends, I'd say. So, I took the findings with a grain of salt.
Which grain mutated into a certainly hypertension-inducing amount of the same stuff when I read about the methodology. And I quote from page 455 of the actual WEF report, where apparently somebody went around, asking: "How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?" The results? Read More...