Work of a lifetime

Martin-mcguinness.jpg

Born in 1950 in Derry, Northern Ireland,  Martin McGuinness grew up in the worst era for Catholics in Northern Ireland.  They were discriminated against so badly in Protestant Northern Ireland that they emulated Black Americans such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in setting up non-violent civil rights protests against the regime.

Through the 1960’s just as in America, the ruling class escalated the use of violence to break the protests.  McGuinness joined the IRA and was, at only 21 years of age, the second in command of the Derry Provisional IRA when British Paratroopers murdered 14 civil rights protesters in Bloody Sunday.

He was imprisoned, treated as a terrorist by a British Regime under Maggie Thatcher.  A British Government that seemed hell bent on destroying the nationalist cause by violence, intolerance and general all round hatefulness.

Elected to Stormont in 1982 in the wake of the hunger strikes and the death of Bobby Sands he, like all Sinn Féin, did not take his seat.

McGuinness went on to become the chief negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement and he took personal responsibility for disarming the IRA.

On this day, his birthday, in 1998 the people of Northern Ireland voted on the Agreement in a referendum.  75% of the people of Northern Ireland voted for peace.

Think about that.  25% of the Northern Irish wanted to continue the violence, the death and destruction.  Who are these people?

McGuinness was cast by his enemies as a villain and a terrorist.  But this is a man who worked tirelessly for peace all his life.  A short life in the end.  He passed away last year aged only 66.

Martin lived to see his life’s work come to fruition.  Northern Ireland is not a finished object and there is a long road to go to reconciliation.  That 25% of nay sayers is still up there looking to bring the whole thing crashing down about our ears.  Don’t let them.

 

Enid Blython Summers

Five go mad in Dorset (Comedy Club Presents)

fivepicnic

Here is a poem that neatly sums up how I spent most of my summers in Ireland in my teen years.

Cycling around North County Dublin and up to Cloherhead with my brothers Rory and Cormac.

Cycling to Aughavanagh in County Wicklow with all my brothers and sisters, a long trek that takes you through South Dublin to Kilmacanogue which is unpronounceable to the uninitiated , up the mountains to the Calary filling station at the Sugar Loaf, on to Roundwood, beyond Glendalough and deep into the Wicklow Mountains.

Touring Melifont, Slane, Monasterboice, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth with my cousin Stephen.

Cycling to Foulksrath Castle in Kilkenny and back through Wicklow on my own apart from a couple of companions along the way.

Cycling to Crossmolina in Mayo to meet John Dermody and then round Sligo where Yeats is buried, north to Donegal and out to Aranmore Island, though Derry on into Antrim with the Causeway coast, Belfast,Down and back to Dublin again on my own except for those I met on the journey.

Cycling from Dublin to Rossbeigh Strand in Kerry to meet my family who were camping down there.  Cheating by getting the train back.

All very Enid Blython stuff, good healthy outdoor exercise, piles of buttered toast, lashings of hot buttered scones and bottles of ice cold soda pop.  Only we called soda pop “minerals”.  All praise to An Oige and the Youth Hostel Association who were such an encouragement and support to the outdoor adventures of my youth.

Chrysalides; by Thomas Kinsella

Our last free summer we mooned about at odd hours
Pedalling slowly through country towns, stopping to eat
Chocolate and fruit, tracing our vagaries on the map.

At night we watched in the barn, to the lurch of melodeon music,
The crunching boots of countrymen — huge and weightless
As their shadows — twirling and leaping over the yellow concrete.

Sleeping too little or too much, we awoke at noon
And were received with womanly mockery into the kitchen,
Like calves poking our faces in with enormous hunger.

Daily we strapped our saddlebags and went to experience
A tolerance we shall never know again, confusing
For the last time, for example, the licit and the familiar.

Our instincts blurred with change; a strange wakefulness
Sapped our energies and dulled our slow-beating hearts
To the extremes of feeling; insensitive alike

To the unique succession of our youthful midnights,
When by a window ablaze softly with the virgin moon
Dry scones and jugs of milk awaited us in the dark,

Or to lasting horror: a wedding flight of ants
Spawning to its death, a mute perspiration
Glistening like drops of copper, agonized, in our path.