Monthly Archives: November 2014

Irish History – Facebook Style

I was chipping in about Irish history on Fred Johnson’s page when something hit my “Tory History of Ireland” button – as in Tory Island, not David Cameron – specifically the phrase ‘all kings and sons of kings’ which cropped up in a James Joyce lecture to the Triestinos in 1907. What follows is an attempt to write that history in Facebook form.

Uniquely, I think, the Irish escaped the feudal system which was ‘general’ in Europe other than in the form of a late and partial imposition by the Normans. Instead, they had a system of tribal territory in which – theoretically at least – everyone in the ‘tuath’ (people, tribe or sept) shared in the ‘ownership’ of the tribal territory – which fluctuated according to the moment but was centrally tied down to tutelary dieties, landscape features and so on. As a result, no one owned the land, which was actually the grounds of a social system in which the chief was said to be ‘married’ the territory in a kind of quasi-mythic union supported by bardic tradition. Continue reading

The Irish “Water Charges” Rebellion

It’s odd to watch. The Irish newspapers are turning massively against the Fianna Gael/Labour coalition in recent times – but especially against the premier Enda Kenny in his capacity as author of the current belt-tightening operations.

Available at

Available on Youtube

This is to be expected, but there is an extra edge to the venom not only because of the objective levels of hardship and deprivation experienced by the low-end earners and the unemployed, but because something in the Irish national project has been irremediably broken.

Some years ago a Fianna Fail government scrapped water rates in order to scoop up votes for re-election. No one stopped to ask if the measure was affordable – in other words, who would fix the drains and water-mains in future? Now Ireland has a privatised rubbish collection service and an impending water tarriff linked to meters. Continue reading