From Wikipedia: “Wolves were once an integral part of the Irish countryside and culture…
…Wolves feature prominently in Irish mythology…
…The last reliable observation of a wolf in Ireland comes from County Carlow when a wolf was hunted down and killed near Mount Leinster for killing sheep in 1786.”
Excerpt from Wolf-Time:
“Why is it that Irish historians will not talk at this level about Irish history? Why will they not ask the big questions?
Here, for example, is a big question: the shot that rang out one night in Maam Valley in Connemara? What, compared to it, is the sailing away of the Irish chieftains from Ireland?
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea and the destructive sword are portions of eternity to great for the eye of man.
There it is: one night in the Maam Valley we killed a portion of eternity.
If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
…Megalithic language, or languages we silenced; Bear language we silenced; Boar language we silenced; Wolf language we silenced.
Our history if the history of our success in making ourselves and our world unreal.
Mostly, it is from unreality that we suffer. From that and from the wrong kind of man-made reality.
…Sadly, we haven’t yet seen that prospering man-made unreality is, if anything, more dangerous to us than prospering, primal reality was.
Better Céol Cúaine(1) than the ever-hungering, ever unhappy, ever-unsatisfied, inaudibly howling vacancy we have replaced it with.
…Better any day our chances with a real wolf than with the Wolf of Vacancy.
In Nordic myth this Wolf of Vacancy is called Fenris Wolf or, as commonly, Fenrir. In order for our world to be at all possible, so the story goes, Tyr, a great and mighty god, had to bind him, had to lay him up in chains in an underworld. But everyone, including Tyr himself, knows full well that Fenrir will one day slip his chains, he will emerge and run free. Opening his mouth, he will advance his lower jaw under the earth and his upper jaw over the sun. Sun and earth and all in between he will swallow, and for Fenrir that is just a mouthful.
Ever since we first set foot in Ireland we have been creating our own Fenrir, our own Wolf of Vacancy, our own Apocalyptic Wolf of Apocalyptic Vacancy.
What we would see if we lifted our eyes from our ledgers is that at this stage there is no binding him, no laying him up in chains, out of sight, in an underworld.
So here it is, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn(2):
Lights gone out in Ireland’s last wolf are lights coming on
in a not inconsiderably larger wolf,
are lights coming on
The Wolf of Vacancy”
From Invoking Ireland: Ailiu Iath n-hErend by John Moriarty, the best book I read last year. Indeed the best book I have read in many years. What is it? It’s a book about landscape, history and myth, but also a book about the hunger we all feel for something more than the shabby world we have created. It is a re-awakening of the world’s soul. Hungering still for more soul-sustenance, I recently ordered this book: Night Journey to Buddh GaiaAnd I am impatiently waiting its arrival.
1. Céol Cúaine = The music of wolves
2. Foras Feasa ar Éirinn = History of Ireland
Some family photos from Britain and Ireland… My dad had two funerals, one in the church he attended for 43 years in Middlesbrough and one back in his home parish of Skerries before being buried in the family grave at Lusk. As you can see from the photos from the reception – I have a lot of cousins (and that’s only half of them!).
Here are some pictures from Skerries, Ireland:
After we got back to the UK, I stuck around for a bit to keep my mother company. We were due to go to Whitby for a day out one day, but the bus that goes there continues on to Scarborough. “Shall we go to Scarborough?” says my mom with a little twinkle in her eye. So we did. My mom loves Scarborough.
On Friday the 5th of March we finally did go to Whitby. “Not as good as Scarborough,” says my mom.
I watched this on DVD last night. It appears to have won lots of awards. Well deserved. This is a gentle romantic fantasy from Ireland about two coma patients who have met only in their increasingly bizarre dreams… and then fall in love. I especially liked it when they suddenly began speaking in Japanese (funny how often that happens in non-Japanese movies).
Lovely movie. I recommend it. The Japanese title (god knows why) is 夜更かし羊が寝る前に.
Now in case you don’t know it Ireland really is a very beautiful country. And the reason it is so beautiful is because it is so green. And the reason it is so green is because it rains all the time. Well, not all the time – but a LOT. Now having been too long over here, I somehow managed to forget this and neglected to bring my winter clothes. And having bought a raincoat in Dublin, the one time I ventured out without it (it being sunny), it suddenly started raining, then hailing and then thundering and lightening. Irish weather you see is as changeable as a woman’s mind. Still all part of the fun I suppose.
The following pictures were taken between August 1st and 6th. I was staying with my parents, my sister Christina and her husband John Mulry at Rose Cottage Balcunnin. My parents inherited some land there three years ago which has apparently been owned by the Lambe family for 300 years. But that could be my Dad putting arms and legs on it as he is oft wont to do. Besides cleaning gutters and raking up grass, I did manage a couple of trips into Dublin’s fair city (where the Poles are so pretty) to hang out with my old friend Michael Staunton (after an interval of a decade) and also into Skerries to reacquaint myself with my cousins Marie, Katherine and Jim (after 16 years!). It was very good to see everybody looking all well and happy, although after such a long time I did feel a bit like I was stepping out of a time machine. Most evenings I and the Mulrys (John and Christina) took a pleasant 20 miute stroll over to the Man O’ War pub. Pleasant that is until the one night we were chased by a big black and very aggressive dog and his little yappy mates. He just needed the hard word though, so that was ok. To get extra information just hover your cursor over the pictures or double click for a closer look.
On the 7th my parents bimbled back to England and the Mulrys and I rambled on to Roscommon and then Ballinasloe (gateway to the west) to meet John’s countless cousins and enjoy endless cups of tea and an infinite number of biscuits. That evening and the next we stayed with John’s cousin Martin Naughton and his family. Martin moved his family back to Ireland from Birmingham a few years back and is now living every plastic paddy’s dream. Nice to see they’ve all settled in so well. Many thanks to Martin (Mr. President), Liz (Mrs. Happiness), Kimberley, Charlotte and Thomas for having us. I think (besides heaps of booze) the highlights were going out on the motorboat (almost had a trouser-accident driving it mind) and learning hurling from Thomas. Oh and of course the pub tricks. Good times.
A little piece of heaven fell out of the sky and they called it Ireland.
From the 9th we went on to Achill, an incredibly beautiful island off the west coast of County Mayo. Words can’t describe how lovely it is there (especially on the rare occasions the sun comes out) so I took lots of pictures to save me the bother. Again John seemed to be related to, well, everybody really. Still everybody was super friendly and the food was delicious (especially at Mastersons) and the Guinness and Smithwicks Ale flowed.
During the trip I noticed that my sister has taken to saying “Ar” when she means “yes”. I’m sure she didn’t used to say “Ar” when she means “yes”. Why would someone in her forties suddenly decide to start speaking like a pirate I wondered… And then I found myself saying it.
And then it was all over and the last pint was supped and I only had one regret; that I didn’t see more live traditional music. Too many places had “live music” that consisted of one old guy, his electronic organ and an overbearing drum machine. Which is just noise basically and ought to be outlawed. Other than that it was a good trip and now I’m back here in Kyoto in this intolerable heat, a crafty cockroach that greeted me in the doorway when I came in (and scuttled swiftly into hidden depths) and a dodgy air-conditioner. Here are some more pics from the last day. Many thanks to John and Christina for taking me on the Mulry tour. It was a good one.
Now that I’m fervently blogging again, Deep Kyoto is also up and running and today’s post is on MK Taxis out of sheer gratitude. I always use them travelling to and from the airport here, but this time I managed to mix up my return date (due to the time difference). I didn’t realise this till they called me up at 3 in the morning (Irish time) to ask me where I was. Somehow they managed to figure out my incoherent mumblings and when I did arrive in Japan a day late they were all ready for me and full of smiles so that was nice.
Hello! Hello! I just got back from Ireland today and am still pretty fatigued, (as I write I am holding a cold compress of frozen peas to my incredibly bloodshot right eye) so I won’t be posting all my pictures today. Ye shall have to wait till tomorrow for the full run-down. But just to wet your appetite here are some tasters.
During my stay I enjoyed too many pints of the old Guinness (it’s true it really does taste far better there).
And I met up with lots of cousins I never knew someone else didn’t have…
And I also met up with my old friend Michael “DON’T put my picture on your blog” Staunton after an interval of a decade. It was very good to see him, (he hasn’t changed much) but in compliance with his wishes I shan’t be showing his picture. Here’s a picture of a nice pony instead:There was also the lovely views over Achill…
Occasionally, I receive comments on this blog of a colourful turn of phrase and I don’t publish them. Just to make things clear, let me explain my policy on “bad language”. I think there’s a time and a place for it and this blog isn’t it. To be precise; any variation on the f-word is not going to get in. The c-word (fond though I am of it) is also out of the question. Words beginning with w, s or b.s. are allowable but only under circumstances of extreme rage (when describing politicians for example) and then in a slightly modified form: “Tony Blair is a w**ker” or “Shinzo Abe is full of s#t”.
I have this policy because I am very much aware that a wide variety of people visit these pages (including colleagues, students and my sister’s two very small children) and if they encounter such language they probably won’t want to visit it again. I also think that overuse of such choice vocabulary can become a kind of verbal tick that can disable you from expressing yourself more eloquently. Basically, “eff this and eff that and eff off over there you effer” makes you sound a bit thick.
Rich and eloquent cursing of a religious nature (HolyMaryMotherofGodandAlltheSaintsPreserveUs!) is however entirely acceptable, because I’m Irish and we think that way.
Speaking of which, a particular Sweary Mary of my aquaintance wanted to know if I had any plans for the summer. Indeed I do! From August 1st until the 13th I will be in Ireland. I’m going to spend one week in a little bungalow just north of Dublin, with my parents, sister and her husband (I’ll be on the couch) and then I’m going west to Achill for a few days. I’m looking forward to catching up with my cousins after an interval of 16 years. I’m also going to be able to catch up with a couple of old college buddies; Michael Staunton (who I haven’t seen in 10 years) and good old David Holloway. David writes: Dublin has changed beyond recognition in the last 16 years- the last few times I’ve been there it has changed radically within periods of about a year- it’s a very interesting place these days.
I do hope by that he doesn’t mean they’ve knocked down lots of lovely old buildings and put up ugly new ones…
Now, I am pleased to announce that over on Deep Kyoto I have finally received my first comment. Or at least the first comment that doesn’t mention testosterone. It’s a nice clean comment of an encouraging nature from a complete stranger and it made me very happy when I read it this morning. More like that please!
Just checked out the prices to Ireland this August and… it’s going to cost me at least ￥２００，０００！That’s roughly 1,000 of your Earth pounds. (I don’t know what it is in imperial dollars…) Ouch.
I could just stay in hot and humid Kyoto this summer, I suppose. Or I could find a buyer for this:
A lady of Korean/Russian origin gave this to me the other night, because, she said I knew what it was like “to be an outsider”. Maiko use these things to fasten their obi (belts). I thought “That’s nice.” and then the guy next to me whispered in my ear how much it was worth and I was somewhat taken aback. It’s worth a LOT. It’s a bit rude to just sell the thing though, isn’t it?
Hey-ho. A fairly obvious video choice today. Way back when, I can remember dancing (well, sort-of-dancing) at a King’s College “Bop” to this one, with two girls, one of whom I really quite liked. Naturally I ended up dating the other one.
My old friend Mickie Potter came online the other night and after brief salutations and updates on current affairs (so-to-speak) I happened to mention I was toying with the idea of a trip to Ireland this summer. Unbelievably I haven’t been back there since the golden summer of 1991.
“I’ve never been to Ireland” says M. P. “Can I come?”
So, we are both doing some serious toying with the idea right now. Now can anyone recommend any must-see places, events etc in Ireland? I was thinking a music festival might be fun. Anyhow, recommendations appreciated. And I hope it’s just like this:
The first warm day in a long time today. Hope it lasts. Obviously the cherry trees appreciate it. I saw my first cherry blossom of the season down by the Kamogawa today. It’s one of the earlier varieties so we have yet a while till blossom-viewing party-foolery begins. Here’s a couple of clickable pictures and a couple more of the 雪柳 “yukiyanagi” I like so much.
Here’s a book there’s a bit of a buzz around currently: What is the What by David Eggers and telling the true story of Valentino Achak Deng. It’s had some excellent write-ups and “all of the proceeds from “What is the What” will go to aiding the Sudanese in America and Sudan.” And in case you don’t know about the plight of the Sudanese, or you’ve only been paying (like most of us) half-a-mind to the GENOCIDE going on in the Sudan, here’s more detail of what those funds can do: REBUILDING MARIAL BAI. That aside it is apparently, a fantastic novel in it’s own right, based closely on the real life experiences of one of the child refugees (nicknamed the “Lost Boys”) who somehow survived warfare and starvation and are now trying to build new lives in America. Here’s what the writer of Throughlines has written: “…in all seriousness I can’t think of a more necessary book I’ve encountered in my lifetime. It’s a harrowing story, but it has moments of great beauty and lyricism as well, and I read it with steadily increasing respect both for Valentino Achak Deng and for Dave Eggers.” That’s by a guy who teaches literature for a living. Wow. So it’s both a great book and buying it will contribute to making the world a wee bit better…I’m going to order my copy immediately. The chance to feel morally and intellectually superior is irresistable.
Here’s something really cool too: “In March 2002 the Irish government introduced a PlasTax levy on single-use plastic carrier bags (including biodegradable ones.) The scheme has been an extraordinary success, with consumption down by a staggering 95%. Prior to the introduction of the levy annual carrier bag usage in Ireland stood at 1.2 billion. Although initally viewed with scepticism by retailers and the general public alike the PlasTax has come to be seen as hugely positive step with the investment of the funds raised through the tax in waste recycling and litter initiatives.”
Go Irish! There’s a petition here for the British government to do the same: BRING YOUR OWN BAG PETITION. More information about that here: BRING YOUR OWN BAG CAMPAIGN We could do with one those petitions in Japan, what with it being the UNNECESSARY AND WASTEFUL PACKAGING CAPITAL OF THE UNIVERSE (probably).
As for today’s title, I actually have nothing to say about Elsa Pataky and neither am I interested in her topless frolicking (well I am but I’ve repressed it)– I was just wondering if it would increase the number of pageviews I get if I used an internet buzzword in the title. Just a little (cynical) social experiment of mine.
I had an excellent night last night. One of those seemingly magical nights when you’re with just the right people, and you never want it to end – which is why I didn’t go home till 5 in the morning.Oops. A friend told me she’ll be leaving Kyoto and moving back to Tokyo soon, so I was kind of sad about that. But we promised to meet up in Tokyo sometimes so our friendship continues and that can only be a GOOD THING.
Here’s another good thing. I never thought I would care so much about CRICKET!