Friday, November 30, 2018

This is Cavan.

This is Cavan!
IMG_0977 Farnham Lough

MVI_0995 Farnham Lough in the rain video

IMG_1003 Trees on Farnham Estate

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween is not what it seems.

It's Halloween. A night when things are not as they seem. People put on masks and costumes, but not the masks and costumes they wear every day. People play tricks, give treats and get them, with strangers, with children, and it's all okay; what's strange is to behave the way you would every other night. Some traditions hold that tonight the dead and living are closer together, the veil between the worlds gets thinner, people and spirits can slip back and forth. We dress up as terrifying, powerful, otherworldly creatures in order to be scared and we are happy to be frightened; witches, warlocks, demons, devils, ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, vampires and zombies wander the streets and inhabit every home and we scream and laugh and love it all. Our carved pumpkin Jack O' Lanterns signal welcome, not warning; we sanitise trick or treating by only giving out sweets, rarely playing tricks or exacting revenge with a sinister punishment if our demands for treats are not met. Increasingly we have made our symbols of this spooky night seem benign: a smiling pumpkin face, dishes of tempting sweets.

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But on Halloween things are not as they seem.

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The sweets are plasticine, the carved pumpkin is tiny.

This night we encourage ourselves to be other than we seem, other than we normally are. We are allowed to dress up as the beings of our darker imaginings. And in doing so we take away some of the power of those hidden, sinister, shadowy creatures, the things that go bump in the night, that lurk beneath the surface, behind the curtain, just out of sight. By bringing out into the light the things that scare us when we glimpse their existence, we disarm them, they become spooky or scary or frightening, but not dangerous. These demons, vampires and zombies cannot really hurt us. We know they're not real. Even if the light is dim or firelit or candlelighted, even if this Halloween night is dark, we can see them. We know what we're looking at.

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We have their measure.

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But we are wrong. What we thought one thing is another; very small or far away; belonging not to one realm of reckoning but another. Tonight we deliberately bring dark things out into the light and think we understand what things are and what is going on. This is a night to do that, to challenge and expose the unknown or the half-imagined, to make the dangerous merely spooky, to laugh at the demons that walk among us, to make them real and thus powerless. I think this is a powerful desire of humans. We want to understand. We want to know. And we particularly want to know about the things that frighten us. We want to break the silence, shine a light into the dark, name the fear. And be better for it. Expose it, pin it down, comprehend it, overcome it. We want that. We're healthier for it.

But usually we don't do it. Our society doesn't. Most societies don't. We don't try to understand what is really going on. We don't bring out the hidden harms so that they can be healed. We don't tell the truth. We know, or at least suspect, that things are not as they seem, but we let the demons rule, just out of sight. We know there are dangers we have not named, have not acknowledged, have not exposed, so they go on harming us. Those who do not want the dangers known or the harms healed deliberately mislead us. And we mislead ourselves. When we are not outright lying, we distract. We look away. We turn our backs. We laugh into our screens and away from the screams. Away from the people who have been truly hurt, who are being hurt right now, who are suffering, who are dying, who are already dead. We distract ourselves, including from ourselves. Sometimes we need to do that - we can't focus on the pain all the time, even our own pain - but sometimes we are still looking away even as the zombie's teeth gnaw into our brains or the vampire's fangs bite in to our necks. We refuse to look at what is going on even as it is killing us. We don't know what is happening. And when we first try to look and to know we think we understand but we do not. We are not judging the scale correctly. It is both much bigger and much smaller than we think. It is immediate and personal and about each of us, and about all of us, humanity, the planet. We need to know what is going on. What is really going on. We need to know the ghosts that still haunt us, the skeletons in all our closets, the devils that delight in destroying what is good. I think we want to know. I applaud the people and organisations and efforts that try to tell us. That try to bring the scary things out into the light, so that we may see them, and know them, and make them disappear. We want to know. So that we may heal the hurts. So that we may live with our demons and ghosts, but not be so frightened of them any more, make them laughable, not deadly. We know there are deep wrongs here that hurt us more because they are hidden. Because we don't know. We want things ultimately to be what they seem, or to know what lies beyond what seems. This Halloween let's see behind the curtain, through the veil, beneath the surface to what is truly going on. Not what seems, but what is. Tonight is a night for the living and the dead. Tonight is a night for truth.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

What I need.

This is what I really need.

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Underworld performing at All Together Now festival, Portlaw, Waterford, 4th August 2018.

Thanks Karl Hyde and Rick Smith for being there when I need you. At the Red Box in Dublin around 20 years ago. Last month at All Together Now festival. And many times before, since and in between.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Underwater.

Lately I have been thinking about what is beautiful and worth sharing with the world. I came across some photos and a video I took underwater in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo a few years ago, and was struck by how vivid they looked, and how they immersed me once again in that underwater otherworld, and how much I wanted to be back there, in the ocean, under the sea. I have been trying to upload more of my photos to Flickr, where currently I have over 11,000 photos, but I haven't really been focussing on pictures that are nice to see, though some have made me feel good to look at. So I thought I would put together all my underwater photos that are already on Flickr into one album. Here are some of them:

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Emperor angelfish and parrotfish, Tahiti, French Polynesia, 1994.

Still one of my favourite underwater photos, and I shot it with a £5 plastic disposable underwater camera in 1994.

Turtle in the Seychelles

Turtle, Bird Island, Seychelles, 2006.

The first time I ever snorkelled with a turtle in the wild. I was incredibly lucky to get this photograph. I can still picture this moment vividly in my mind's eye. Amazing to also have it on film.

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Manta ray, Two Mile Reef, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique, 2009.

Looked up and saw this ray while I was scubadiving. I chose this as the one thousandth picture I uploaded to Flickr.

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Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, 2010.

Underwater Ireland can be just as beautiful as underwater Africa. It was coming across these pictures from a trip to Mullaghmore in County Sligo on the Atlantic coast of Ireland that made me want to compile more underwater photos, so I've included a few of them here.

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Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, 2010.

Hard to believe this is in the sea, not an aquarium.

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Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, 2010.

I love the way the underwater and surface worlds co-exist, usually oblivious to each other.

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Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, 2010.

This picture is taken from underwater, seaweed against the sky like trees. The bubble reveals the perspective.

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Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, 2010.

A little video to give you a feel for the experience of snorkelling.

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Under the ice in a fountain, Iveagh Gardens, Dublin, 2010.

Sometimes a photo is interesting or beautiful in a different way. I like these pictures taken under the ice in a fountain in one of my favourite places, the Iveagh Gardens near my home in Dublin, during the big snow of 2010.

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Zanzibar, Tanzania, 2015.

The coral is so amazing. As are the fish.

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Seapoint, Dublin, 2017.

A blurry impression of snorkelling at one of my favourite swimming spots, with Martello tower just about distinguishable.

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Jellyfish, Seapoint, Dublin, 2018.

I saw five individual jellyfish underwater at different times, of different types, shapes and colours.

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Seapoint, Dublin, 2018.

The rocks and seaweed make me feel at home.

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Seapoint, Dublin, 2018.

And even underwater, the sun shines through.

My underwater photos.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Keep walking.

The sun is setting once again.

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But this time I am on land. It is nearly a dozen days later. I see the curve of a path I have travelled. And I can walk away.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Is that it?

Sometimes below the surface there is beauty.

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And you don't know if it's living or dead. And you don't know if it will sting you, or hurt you, or just pass by.

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I am at sea and the sun is going down.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Repealed.

The Eighth Amendment has been repealed. Yes we did. A better Ireland is possible.

From this:

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28th November 2012, memorial vigil at Dáil Eireann, following Savita Halappanavar's death.

To this:

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25th May 2018, memorial to Savita Halappanavar in Portobello, at 10pm as polls closed in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The Eighth Amendment was repealed by 1,429,981 votes Yes (66.4%) to 723,632 votes No (33.6%). All the decades of sadness and pain that has come before, all the deaths and suffering, all the fighting and talking and struggling, all the bravery and honesty and breaking of the silence by women, men and everyone, all the joy and courage and hope that has led to this point. We did it. A better Ireland is now. Repealed.