Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Beautiful things in May.

Here are some beautiful things I saw in Dublin this month.

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Deer in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.

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Swimming out to the first buoy at Seapoint, Dublin.

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El Viz, Smithfield, Dublin.

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James Earley, Blooms Hotel, Temple Bar.

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Alison O'Grady Byrne, Dublin.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rocking up to the Rock of Dunamase.

Until yesterday, I had never heard of the Rock of Dunamase. It is a stunning, ruined castle perched on a high outcrop in Co. Laois, which I came across while driving home from Kerry.

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From the signs at the entrance, there was a 9th century dún (fort) on the site and the castle was built in the late 12th century.

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It came under the possession of the Anglo-Normans when Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, was married to Strongbow.

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It was a major military and administrative stronghold for at least two hundred years, but was destroyed possibly by the O'Mores and then in Cromwellian times.

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There are the ruins of two barbicans, gates, a gatehouse, inner and outer walls and a curtain wall, among other structures and large pieces of masonry.

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There is a massive two storey rectangular hall on the top of the hill, which was partially restored in the 18th century.

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Otherwise it has barely been restored or even preserved since it was deliberately destroyed centuries ago and then fell into decay. I quite like that locals and people who know it well don't seem to want it to be restored or changed, but enjoy it in its wild, ruined state.

It gives quite spectacular views for miles over the surrounding countryside.

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We happened upon the Rock of Dunamase, following our intuition more than the minimal signage from the M7 motorway. It's a beautiful and intriguing place, well worth a visit.

Discover Ireland website for Rock of Dunamase.

Megalithic Ireland page on Dunamase.

Irish Archaeology page on Dunamase.

Friday, March 31, 2017

A mixed month.

As has been the case for at least eighteen months, there is a lot going on. This week the UK triggered Article 50 and began the official two year process of leaving the European Union. I ostensibly live there, and am studying there, and as an Irish and EU citizen I am sad to see this development, to witness this process move to this stage. Meanwhile I've felt more in touch with, and both pessimistic and optimistic about aspects of my personal life and things that are important to me. At a talk by the wonderful artist James Earley on 18th March, I felt my enthusiasm for graffiti and street art being rekindled, after it had ebbed to a low point over the last several years. At different times this month in my home, the Daintree Building in Dublin, I've felt upset and profoundly annoyed by problems with the heating and hot water, and also joyous and excited by the building, its positive presence and impact as an ecological mixed use building, and the simple pleasure of living a good life there. I feel many important aspects of my life are swirling and changing, ebbing and flowing this month, and I look forward to exploring them more and finding more balance.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Truth is powerful.

A little over a month ago I was at the Women's March in Dublin.

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There were at least five thousand people marching with me in Dublin, and I was marching with five million people around the world that day. Making our voices heard and our presence felt, making clear that we dissent and being clear that we have better alternatives. It was a good day, of quietly spoken and loudly shouted opposition to an unfair world and propositions for a better one. Those messages are as strongly felt now, they grow stronger and are made more necessary with each passing day. Let's not forget that experience and that presence, that massive, massive force. We'd do well to pay more attention to and take more sustenance from it, today and each day that feels bleaker than the last.

I think a major mistake is being made in that we - the media, the general public, commentators, writers, as well as those who have and stand for alternatives - keep playing the tune of a man we claim to despise and whose message for the world is destructive and dangerous. I won't mention his name as you already know it and it's better for everyone if it's not said. Instead of ignoring a man who will do anything for attention, we keep giving him the attention he craves for doing and saying things we claim to disapprove of. As we all know from childhood, this is not how to deal with an attention-seeking, ignorant, loud-mouthed bully. He appears deeply insecure despite being immensely powerful, and insecure people are very dangerous. We continually allow ourselves to be distracted by what he wants us to be distracted by. We ignore and fail to oppose the truly destructive things he is doing because we focus on the latest outrage he has concocted, particularly when that distraction is a nonsensical, inconsequential thing he's said or claimed is true, or indeed claimed is fake. We need to focus instead on opposing the actions that are truly causing damage and maintaining that focus unwaveringly until things change, and at the same time maintaining our efforts to create and strengthen better alternatives such as equality, fairness, solidarity, inclusiveness and sustainability.

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A first stage is to oppose his policies and everything he stands for. Examples were evident at the Women's March, with signs such as these reading "Love Tr*mps Hate" and "Untr*mp the world". At least these are a step in the right direction towards subverting his message, even inverting it, rather than parroting it wholesale with neutered shrieks of outrage attached, usually honed into Twitter-length bon mots that evaporate even as they are typed. But we need to go further than that. Just visible in the background was one of the most powerful messages I saw at the Women's March:

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"Truth is powerful and it prevails." I believe this. Perhaps it would be more accurate, if cynical, to say I believe the first part and fight for the second. Unfashionable as it is to say I think we need to focus on the truth. There is a truth. The truth. There are as many different perspectives on truth as there are people in the world, and all of those perspectives are part of the truth, but in my old-fashioned view, there is the truth, which includes all of those different views, different realities, different knowledges. And truth is different to falsehood, to lies, to fictions, to unrealities. I think we need to focus more on what is true. I think we need to do this particularly now when so much of what is true is under attack, and when so much of what is false is being lauded and elevated as all that matters. While simultaneously we are told that there is no difference between truth and falsehood, that what is true is actually false, that only the lies are real. We need to keep telling the truth, about the world as it is. And about how it could be. We need to voice too the truths that are not often heard. Don't let your post-modern sensibilities and the contemporary uncoolness of truth blind you to the dangers of believing habitual liars who happen to be very powerful. We need to refuse to be distracted by their fireworks, 'facts' and funny stories. Don't grant this man and his many associates the power to tell you what to think about, or what to think about it. I suggest ignoring the majority of nonsense that he wants you to be distracted and outraged by but ineffectual about. Instead focus on what matters, and remain focused on that. Focus on what is true. And then focus on doing something real about it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Action plan.

I have been trying to think about what we can do in these dark and difficult and rapidly deteriorating times. I have thought that there is a kind of template for action, that applies to any work to make the world better, and then there are the specifics of what needs to be done to counteract the actions of Trump as President of the USA, his administration and all those who support these destructive, hateful, inhumane ways of running our shared world. The template that has run through my mind has been:

1. Ready yourself

2. Educate yourself

3. Join with others

4. Show solidarity

5. Take action

6. Take direct action

7. Reflect

8. Re-energise

9. Sustain

Remember you're not alone. More are with us than with him.

Women's March in Dublin photos

More to come.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Traditions always evolve.

Traditions always evolve. I love cheese. Most years, I buy Christmas cheese, from Sheridan's cheesemongers in South Anne Street in Dublin. Whatever cheeses I want, to eat, to share, to give.

This year I bought Christmas cheese from Neal's Yard Dairy, in London, a city where I have ostensibly lived for the last three or so years.

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Christmas cheese from Neal's Yard Dairy, London.

The next day I moved home to Dublin, Ireland, where I intend to live for the next little while. I took the cheese with me of course. And two days later I went to Sheridan's cheesemongers in Dublin, and bought my Christmas cheese.

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Christmas cheese from Sheridan's cheesemongers, Dublin.

The cheese from London informs and coexists with the cheese in Dublin, here on my kitchen table in Dublin. I take what I have, and it comes with me. I am what I am, wherever I am. I eat, I share, I give. Utopia travels with me. Moving and being. Traditions always evolve.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Levelling.

Hard to believe this was only last month.

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Lough Leane and the Macgillycuddy Reeks, Kerry, Ireland.

Seems like another era. A different time. A changed person. Last week does too.

I've climbed the mountain, Carrantuohil, the highest mountain in Ireland, that is somewhere in this photograph, among the Macgillycuddy Reeks. I've touched the water in this lake, Lough Leane, in Killarney. I've edited this photo to cut bits I don't like out, to make it look better, to make it seem more what I am trying to represent. But it remains what it is. The photo is crooked and right now I cannot change that. The water in the lake is always on the level. It was always balanced to my touch. I will always have climbed that mountain. I will climb many more. And I will always touch the water.