Friday, February 27, 2009

Ireland v England rugby tomorrow

Ireland play England in the Six Nations rugby championship tomorrow. I'll probably be watching it in McGann's near North Station here in Boston, with a (late) full Irish breakfast, coffee, and a pint. The alternative is to watch it on a laptop screen for free via my VPN connection into Ireland, as I watched Ireland versus Italy, but that is not the same type of experience.

It’ll be the last time England play at Croke Park, unless Ireland annexes England, makes it into a county of Ireland, and then England field a Gaelic Football or Hurling team which reaches the All-Ireland final. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

[Of course, London does play in the All-Ireland championships, but London is not the same as England].

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Simpsons visit Ireland

The depiction of Irish people on The Simpsons (perpetually drunk, leprechaun hats) is a reminder that the Irish are fair game for derision, not least by Irish people themselves. So it is with the Germans, French, Scots, and Italians: we are all fair game for ridicule in The Simpsons. But, speaking as an Irish person myself, there is always a slight unease that goes with it.

So it is that the news about The Simpsons visit to Ireland evokes these mixed feelings [by the way, "Failte Ireland" is Ireland's national tourist board - "Failte" means "welcome"]:

In news which will either be greeted with joy or horror by Fáilte Ireland, the pair also stop off at several Irish landmarks including the Giant’s Causeway, the Blarney Castle and, obviously, the Guinness Brewery.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Open house at the Bay State Model Railway Museum in Roslindale - March 7 and 8

I highly recommend this place, which is near the Roslindale Village train station.

Bay State Model Railroad Museum, Roslindale MA

Bay State Model Railroad

From their website:
March 7 & 8, 2009
Saturday & Sunday
11am to 4pm both days
(less crowded Saturday)
(less crowded before noon and after 2pm both days)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The fizz gone from Bulmers

Emblematic of the downturn in Ireland, Bulmers now is laying people off. During the unusually warm Irish summer of 2006, and through 2007, Bulmers (AKA Magners) cider was wildly popular. The legions of Bulmers drinkers included Prince William, as this article reports. Bulmers struggled to keep up with the demand for cider.

Now, the cider market has gone flat. Will cider in Ireland and the UK go back downmarket? Has it already? Interesting, cider in the US doesn't seem to ever have had the "knocking back 2 liter bottles down by the canal at Age 15" reputation. So the "upmarket cider" market may be untapped. Though, now is probably not the time to launch anything upmarket.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland - 1837" and other Irish interest books

Browsing the Irish interest section of Pazzo Books, I see the evocatively named "The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland":


AUTHOR: Binns, Jonathan
TITLE: The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland - Vol 2
PRICE: USD$ 145.00
CATEGORY: Miscellaneous
BOOK ID: PB-020862
Publisher: Longman, Orme, Brown and Co, London, 1837. Binding: Half Leather. Condition: Very Good.

Binns was Assistant Agricultural Commissioner of the late Irish Poor Inquiry. 460pp 2pp ads, errata. Half calf over marbled boards, light edgwear and front hinge splitting very slightly. Slight spine cock, light soiling but generally an attractive copy. 3 plates, internally fine.


Some interesting looking Irish interest books there. Is there a better Irish interest section in a second-hand bookstore in Boston? Probably not.

There is also a book listed called "The History of Ireland from Its First Settlement to the Invasion...with a Continuation from the Invasion to the Present Time". Now which invasion would that be? I imagine it's the English, but it's not like they were the only people invade Ireland.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lego pirate event at the Burlington Mall

This looks like fun - create a 8 foot model Lego pirate. February 20 to 22 in the Burlington Mall.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Comparing recession reporting in Ireland and Boston

The Internet makes it easy for me to read the Irish newspaper coverage of the recession. Irish coverage focuses on laying blame on the Irish government and on property developers who borrowed money. As Orla Mulcahy puts it in the Irish Times today, "Resentment and suspicion bloom in recession". The US press seems to focus more on how people can pull through - for example this Boston Globe article about how people are determined to find new jobs, and less about apportioning blame.

But, if blame is to be apportioned, maybe the culprits in Ireland are not only property developers and the government. What about the fact that the general population spent the last 5 years spending crazily? I spoke to German visitors who were shocked at the amount of new BMWs and Mercedes in Dublin. I was personally embarassed at the gigantic shopping sprees of Irish people I encountered here in the US on weekend shopping trips. Maybe this wild crazy spending was part of the problem? Maybe the fact that Ireland's nouveau riche culture made Russian oil barons look restrained by comparison? I always used to notice that Tommy Hilfiger and Abercromie and Fitch labels were much more prevalent in Dublin than anywhere in the US (and there was not even an Abercrombie and Fitch store in Ireland!), since Ireland is more "label conscious" than the US. I also used to be amused to overhear people say in Dublin that "This pair of jeans cost me 140 euro", or "I am spending 4000 euro on a trip to Australia". I would be more inclined to say "This pair of jeans cost me $18 at Old Navy in Dedham".

And still it goes on: Compare these two motoring articles this week:

The Irish Times: "Outrunning the recession in the Audi A8" - glorifying an expensive car:

The Boston Globe: A Boston Globe journalist describes how he happily drives a 1997 car, saving money:

A few years ago, I mentioned in Ireland that I had bought a freezer cheaply because it was dented on the side. The reaction was as if I had peeled bubble gum off the floor, put it in my mouth and chewed it. That was unthinkable in Ireland, we were beyond that. But, here in frugal New England, that was laudable.

Was it the government, or indeed property developers, who forced people in Ireland to spend all this money? I wonder....

Monday, February 2, 2009

Samantha Power

Samantha Power is the most senior Irish-born person in the Obama administration, having been given a senior foreign policy post.

It is interesting to see, using Google, what people search about Samantha Power.

As you can see below, they search about

- Top of this list is a search about her views on Israel. I had no idea she had said anything about Israel, but since it was the top of the list, I ran the search to see. That made me wonder about self-fulfillment in Google's search history. Turns out she was critical of Israel's behaviour in Jenin.

- Then, people searched about her wedding, which was in County Kerry. Further down the list is a search for her husband.

- Her book about genocide, "A problem from Hell", comes only at number 4.

The one thing I remember about Samantha Power was reading that, in her early days in Boston, she purposefully studied baseball so that she could fit in better in Boston. I never did this, and I rely on my hazy memories of learning to play "Rounders" in Community Games matches in 1980s rural Ireland for my knowledge of baseball rules. That may explain why I am so clueless about the game.