Immaculate

HD Jim Morrison Wallpapers – HdCoolWallpapers.Com

December 8th is the feast of the immaculate conception in the Roman Catholic tradition, and happens to be the birthday of Jim Morrison, the Christ-Like frontman of the 1960’s sensation that was The Doors.

The immaculate conception as a concept was invented in the 11th Century by a gang of men who liked nothing to do with womens body parts, wombs leaking blood and period pains.  They always felt that Christ Jesus had to be born in a special womb that was pure and spotless.  But in the 11th Century the church leaders decided that they needed to go back another generation.  It was not enough that Jesus was magically born without the corruption of the flesh (normal sexual activity) but the mother of Jesus, Mary, also had to be born of immaculate conception.

So Mary was conceived in the absence of an erection, and to celebrate this nonsense all Irish people mark this day by erecting their Christmas Tree.

 

 

Stoned Inmaculate; by Jim Morrison

I’ll tell you this…
no eternal reward will forgive us now
for wasting the dawn.
Back in those days everything was simpler and more confused.

One summer night, going to the pier
I ran into two young girls
the blonde one was called Freedom
the dark one, Enterprise
we talked and they told me this story
now listen to this…

I’ll tell you about Texas radio and the big beat
soft driven, slow and mad
like some new language
reaching your head with the cold, sudden fury of a divine messenger.
Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of god
wandering, wandering in hopeless night.

Out here in the perimeter there are no stars
out here we is stoned
Immaculate.

 

Light My Fire (Live at Felt Forum, New York CIty, January ...

Cutting edge

Carabiner

Ulster Carabiner of the 9 years war

What is considered to be at the “cutting edge” of military development can be very surprising.  In the 1590’s the dominant force in Europe was Spain.  They ruled the continent with their Tercios, the mixed phalanxes of Musketeers, Pikemen and Swordsmen.

Los Tercios fueron invencibles

They were highly disciplined, highly drilled and worked as a cohesive unit.  Cavalry charges could not break the infantry lines.  The Musketeers were protected by the pikes and swords.  The great muskets and arquebuses were so heavy they acted like small cannon.  Firing them required a support stand to steady the barrell.

The English who invaded Ireland under Elizabeth I were armed and armoured like the Tercios.  They had good shoes and warm socks.  The pikemen wore half armour for protection against cavalry sabres.

In Ireland they met the pride of Ulster, the carabiners of Hugh O’Neill and Hugh O’Donnell.  This yellow garbed barefoot lad with a spanish pattern helmet does not look like much but looks can decieve.

His weapon is a carbine, lighter and shorter than the muskets and arquebuses of the English, and the very cutting edge of firearms technology in its day.  O’Neill equipped his men with a lighter weapon for very good reasons.

Ireland is not a flat land of grainfields and open plains.  The open country of the continental mainland where the Tercios fought against the French and the Dutch accommodated large formations.  Ireland is a country of hills and bogs cut all over with small streams and rivers.  Uneven and wet land.

Anyone who hikes regularly in Ireland knows how the acid water from the peat bogs will eat the boots off your feet.  Good waterproofing is vital for modern boot materials.  In the Elizabethan era the fine footwear of the soldiers melted off their feet within days.  Even when the shoes were in good shape they gave no good purchase in wet boggy hills.

So the yellow cloaked Irish carabiner in his bare feet actually knew what he was about.  Stay light, stay agile, stay warm.  That great shapeless yellow thing he is wearing was the butt of many jokes by English soldiers over the years.  But it is made of raw wool dyed saffron, the royal colour of Ulster.  The wool is warm and waterproof.  Even when it is soaking wet it keeps you warm.  Vital in Ireland.  It acts as cape, cloak, greatcoat, groundsheet and sleeping bag.

O’Neill spent his money wisely, on good shot, good powder, good firearms.  He drilled his men to use the natural advantages of the countryside, fighting a guerilla war against the English.  He fought them to a standstill for nine years.

The eventual demise of the Irish comes down to the incompetence of the Spanish.  The Armada had been a great failure, and English protestants were assisting the Dutch rebellion against their Catholic Spanish Majesties.  The Spanish Kings felt that Ireland represented a possible second front to keep the English bottled up.  The great soldiers of Spain sent to assist the Irish did not land in Ulster.  Battered by storms many never made it to Ireland and those that did landed in Kinsale and Baltimore, at the very other end of the Island from the strongholds of Ulster.

The Ulstermen marched south to link up with the Spaniards but the English got to Kinsale first and were able to dominate the Spaniards with their Artillery.  When the Irish arrived the English Cavalry were able to decimate them.  Irish units, highly effective in guerilla warfare, were not trained for formation battle.  That skill was supposed to be provided by the Spaniards, but the English successfully kept the allies apart.

In that defeat at the Battle of Kinsale lies the root of the current situation where Northern Ireland remains part of the UK.

The yellow carabiner in the photo forms part of an exhibit in the Irish National Museum at Collins Barracks, Dublin, which traces Irish involvement in Military Engagements all over the world through history.

Nixtamalisation

Image result for fulacht fiadh

The process of nixtamalization is one of my favourite cooking stories from history.  It is a sophisticated process involving empirical chemistry to convert maize from useless bulk into a nutritional food.

The nixtamalization process was vital to the early Mesoamerican diet.  Unprocessed maize is deficient in vitamin B3; niacin. A population that depends on untreated maize as a staple food risks malnourishment and is more likely to develop deficiency diseases such as pellagra, niacin deficiency, or kwashiorkor, the absence of certain amino acids that maize is deficient in.

To unlock the niacin you must cook the maize in a solution containing lime, and ideally calcium.   This can be done by adding lye (wood fire ash) to the kernels during boiling or by the addition of lime as a slaked rock.

Nextamalli is a Nahuatl (Aztec) word for the processed grain – also called Hominy which comes from the Algonquin word uskatahomen.

The spread of maize cultivation in the Americas was accompanied by the adoption of the nixtamalization process.

How this process developed may be understood by looking at cooking in Ancient Ireland, despite the fact that the Irish did not need the process.  If you look at the cooking arrangement in the photo above you will see what is called a Fulacht Fiadh.  In bronze age Ireland people did not have good cooking pots.  If you are really careful it is possible to boil a stew in a bark container or an anmial skin, but it’s not easy.

The Irish used a cooking pit.  The pit was lined with timber to prevent the sides from collapsing into a muddy hole.  It was filled with water.  Then a fire was built in the hearth and limestone rocks were placed on the fire.  When they heated up the “cooks” used large wooden paddles to lift  or roll the hot rocks and place them in the pit, which caused the water to boil and the meal to cook.

Using the same process in South America the locals found that the combination of slaked lime stone, and the wood ash from the fire had a magical effect on the maize.  It converted maize from a vegetable into a staple food that gave almost everything you needed to live.  Add a few beans, potato, tomato, chile and you have a feast.

When Europeans discovered maize in the new world, and saw how it formed a staple food, they brought it home and used it as a food in their colonies, especially in Africa and India.  But they didn’t know about nixtamalization and famine soon followed.  To this day pellagra remains a problem in some parts of the world where the grain spread without the process.  South Africa, Egypt and Southern India still see problems.

The British attempted to feed the Irish with maize during the potato famine.  Robert Peel imported Indian Corn from America and had it distributed at cost price.  Most people could not afford it and those that could were appalled by the garish yellow rock hard grain that was unfit to make bread.  They labelled it “Peel’s Brimstone” and many thought it was a plot to poison them.  They had no idea how to cook the food.  Those who persisted and boiled it down to a tasteless porridge were not feeding themselves in any case, because they had no niacin.

 

Bloody Sunday 1920

 

Auxies

Auxilliaries having a laugh in 1920’s Ireland

If any single day can sum up a war the events of Bloody Sunday in Dublin, 99 years ago today, do just that.

Early in the morning the Irish leaders of the War of Independence; Michael Collins and Cathal Brugha, despatched IRA squads to assassinate a list of 35 British Intelligence Officers and informers.

There were mistakes made, and many failures, but when the smoke settled 14 men were killed and six were wounded, one mortally.  Two of the killings were mistakes, what the military today terms “collateral damage”.  One IRA volunteer was captured, but later escaped.  Another was injured; shot in the hand.

The work of the morning was highly effective in dismantling the British Intelligence operation.  Many of the surviving intelligence agents holed up in Dublin Castle and were unable to carry out further work for fear of their lives.  The list of targets clearly demonstrated that the secrecy of the agents had been compromised.

The retaliation by the British was a complete and utter Public Relations disaster.   Dublin and Tipperary were playing a football match in Croke Park that afternoon.  The British forces thought that it would be a good idea to drive into a football stadium and announce by megaphone that all men were to be searched.

One and a half years previously the British under General Dyer slaughtered over 400 civilians in Amritsar in the Punjab, India.  In that context it is inconcievable to believe that British Authorities thought it might be a good idea to send armed men into a football stadium.  But they did.

They never got to announce their intention to the crowd.  A column of British soldiers approached from Clonliffe road to the North.  A mixed column of Black and Tans, regular RIC and led by Auxiliaries approached from the Canal end to the South.  The Black & Tans started shooting as soon as they entered the ground.

The result was predictable.  A mad scramble to safety by the crowd and loss of all control of both the crowd and of the Crown forces.  The combined troops and police fired 114 rounds of rifle ammunition, 50 rounds of machine gun ammunition from an armoured car stationed outside the ground and the revolver ammunition was not documented.  The machine gunner at least had wits enough to fire in the air over the heads of the crowd.

Seven were shot to death, one of whom was the Tipperary Goal Keeper; Michael Hogan.  Five more were mortally wounded and died later.  Two more were trampled to death.  Dozens more were shot, wounded and survived and many more were wounded in the scramble to safety.

None of the security forces was killed or wounded in the action.

Later that night three men who were being detained in Dublin Castle as suspects in planning the assassinations were shot to death, supposedly while trying to escape.

Bloody Sunday removed any final sympathy for the Crown position that might have lingered in even the most West British parts of leafy south county Dublin.  The behaviour of the Black & Tans was recognised as the actions of rabid dogs, unordered, and “exceeding the demands of the situation”.

The finding of the British military courts of enquiry were suppressed, and some of the senior British Officers on the ground resigned their commissions in protest at Government’s tacit support of the actions of both Military and Police forces on the day.

That was the day Britain lost Ireland.

 

 

 

 

Sloe time

Image

In cold November weather when the first frost strikes you wrap up in winter woolies and harvest the sloes.  You have been walking by them on your country rambles and you know where the best cropping bushes are.

Plump black fruts of the Blackthorn which pricks a fair few fingers as you pick.  Prunus spinosa, the thorny plum, the fruit is smaller than a damson, far more bitter and the most astringent thing you can think of.  A sample bite will dry out your mouth, like tanin on speed.

The frost helps sweeten the fruit slightly, but if you delay picking the creatures of the field and stream will beat you to the punch.

Back home in the warm kitchen you prick the fruits with a fork and toss them in a kilner jar.  Douse them in sugar and give them a few days for the sugar to leach the juice from the berries.  When you have a jar of fine pink coloured sugar you can top up the jar with vodka or gin and seal it.  Store in a cool, dark, dry place for as long as you can bear.

The result is sloe gin.

 

 

Sloe Gin; by Seamus Heaney

The clear weather of juniper
darkened into winter.
She fed gin to sloes
and sealed the glass container.

When I unscrewed it
I smelled the disturbed
tart stillness of a bush
rising through the pantry.

When I poured it
it had a cutting edge
and flamed
like Betelgeuse.

I drink to you
in smoke-mirled, blue-
black sloes, bitter
and dependable.

Image result for sloe gin homemade

Rape and the Republic

Rape of Lucretia

Lucretia by Artemisia Gentileschi

On Wednesday 13th November 2019 Lucretia sold for €4.8 million establishing a record price for the work of the 17th Century Female Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

The subject matter, the suicide of Lucretia, is the founding event of the Roman Republic. Sextus Tarquinus, the son of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (last King of Rome) raped the virtuous wife of the chief magistrate Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus.  In front of her husband and father she accused her rapist and took her own life in shame.  Her self sacrifice led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the creation of the Roman Republic.

Lucretia is one of those memes that has re-occured in art through the centuries, an icon of virtue, an innocent despoiled by brute power.  The rape itself forms one subject and the suicide another, both lurid, sexualised and even pornographic.

The story is a patriarchal morality story.  Despite her innocence the “path of virtue” for Lucretia is to take her own life.  That way she does not saddle her upstanding father and husband with “damaged goods”.

When Christianity rose to power suicide was deemed a sin.  But the raped innocent was expected to commit a symbolic form of suicide.  She was removed from polite society.  If she was pregnant she was sent away to bear the child in secret, in a convent if rich or in a Magdalene Laundry if she was poor.   Many an Irish girl was put on a boat to England to have her child abroad, or to avail of an abortion.  Good Catholic families specialised in sweeping their morality under the carpet of convenience.

To this day the legal systems in most countries are weighted in favour of the rapist and against the victim.  Her silence is rewarded with discretion as the rapist trots off to find his next victim.  Her accusation is questioned in detail and her character is torn to shreds in the courtroom where her sexual history and clothing choices will be used to paint her as a loose woman, a woman of dubious virtue, no Lucretia.

Lucretia

 

 

Seige of Smerwick

Smerwick

WALTER RALEIGH DID NOT MASSACRE 600 IRISH AT SMERWICK

These days, with talks of Brexit and Irish Borders and that thorny “Irish Question” that never goes away there are many British (but mostly English) people who struggle to understand all the fuss.  Why can’t it all just be neatly packaged and go away?

So much history.  Scratch any corner of the Emerald Isle and you will open a bloody scab.  Like the one at Smerwick in Dingle.  Back in 1580 Walter Raleigh, him of the cloak in the puddle, found himself in County Kerry under the orders of Grey de Wilton, Elizabeth’s Lord Deputy of Ireland.  They were putting down the ill fated Second Desmond Rebellion.  The pope had sent a force of 600 Spanish and Italian mercenaries to assist the Irish in their rebellion against the protestants.  They were even joined by some English catholics.

These were not nice mercenaries fighting for the rights of the poor Irish Catholics.  They were rabid beasts.  When they landed in Kerry they engaged in a campaign of rapine and pillage on the English planters, on the local people, even attacking the families of Spanish Merchants who lived in the area at the time.

Grey bottled the main army on a poorly fortified headland at Dún an Óir, an ancient Iron Age ringfort.  He had his guns on the landward side and six navy ships at his disposal in the bay.  The Spaniards and Italians didn’t have a chance.  The English negotiated a surrender under terms.  Once the Papal troops laid down their arms they were summarily executed.  With the exception of a few officers the men were massacred under the orders of Grey.

The event might have remained in obscurity, a brutal but forgotten sideshow, if not for English politics.  Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth Raleigh fell out of favour at court.  He was imprisoned by James I and tried.  One of the many accusations thrown at him was the Smerwick Massacre, an event at which he was not present.  Later papers suggest that he found Grey overly heavy handed and Grey left him behind in the race to Dingle.

But Smerwick was levelled at Raleigh in the court papers and he was ultimately found guilty.   So if you go to Ireland today and ask about Smerwick the story you are likely to hear is that this is where Walter Raleigh perfidiously executed 600 brave Irish rebels after they surrendered.  They will tell you he did it himself and enjoyed it.  History is a funny old game.  The massacre at Smerwick took place on November 10th, 1580.

 

Ocean’s Love to Ireland ; by Seamus Heaney

I

Speaking broad Devonshire,
Raleigh has backed the maid to a tree
as Ireland is backed to England

and drives inland
till all her strands are breathless:
‘ Sweesir, Swatter! Sweesir, Swatter! ‘

He is water, he is ocean, lifting
her farthingale like a scarf of weed lifting
in the front of a wave.

II

Yet his superb crest inclines to Cynthia
even while it runs its bent
in the rivers of Lee and Blackwater.

Those are the splashy spots where he would lay
his cape before her. In London, his name
will rise on water and on these dark seepings:

Smerwick sowed with the mouthing corpses
of six hundred papists, ‘as gallant and good
personages as ever where beheld’.

III

The ruined maid complains in Irish,
Ocean has scattered her dream of fleets,
the Spanish prince has spilled his gold

and failed her. Iambic drums
of English beat the woods where her poets
sink like Onan. Rush-light, mushroom-flesh,

she fades from their somnolent clasp
into ringlet-breath and dew,
the ground possessed and repossessed.