Letter from Trinidad de Cuba

  bySeán Joseph Clancy

Michael D represented Ireland well during his recent four-day official visit to Cuba.
He arrived on St Valentine’s Day, having been to both Colombia and Peru. All three are countries close to our president’s heart, and exchanges with his counterparts in the latter two will have been more meaningful and informed than they might have come to expect from European officials, who generally blindly toe the NATO and US line and swap ephemeral platitudes, unlikely to rattle a status quo that literally leaves children starving to death in two of the most unequal and corrupt rich countries on Earth.
How gloriously different things are in this proud, insular Caribbean bastion of revolutionary socialism!
Even though Michael D had twice previously met and talked briefly to President Raúl Castro—at Nelson Mandela’s funeral and at an international conference—and the “diplomatic chemistry” between them had been described as good, the fact that their amicable meeting in Havana lasted for more than four hours was noted by many on both sides, and most certainly in other quarters also.
Gaillimh abú!
Protocol had dictated that the official invitation from Cuba had to be extended to the Irish government—as opposed to the head of state—which meant that the president and his staff were accompanied by officials from a Department of Foreign Affairs that had recently made abundantly clear its rejection of Michael D’s reasonable and balanced views on Cuba. There were no obvious signs of tension between the two establishment camps, though there was at times a somewhat condescending attitude to the mannerisms and the intellectualism of the president on the part of Dublin civil servants and their Blueshirt-inclined political superiors.
The Irish ambassador and her staff, being based in Mexico, must have found elements of the traditional Cuban bureaucracy and apparent indifference quite terrifying by times in their endeavours to organise the visit; yet in fairness it must be said that they did a great job, and something essentially warm, hospitable and Irish permeated the official events and functions.
Michael D was well matched, and was accompanied to many of these, by Cuba’s tall, bearded and pony-tailed minister of culture, the poet, intellectual and political heavyweight Abel Prieto, who seemed to particularly relish the concert of traditional Irish music and dancing in Havana’s beautiful Teatro Martí. Two Cuban uilleann pipers, and the perfect rendition of a sean-nós lament in Irish by a young Cuban woman, added to a great session that ended with a standing ovation and a fitting encore.
It was nice to see the best of what we are, where we have come from and what we as a nation aspire to become eloquently transmitted and represented by our head of state and fine exponents of our literature, music, dances, language, and history.
In the face of the shameful and pitiful gombeen greed and ignorance passed off as representing who we are on the international stage by our crooked band of fraudsters and thieves, which must have poor Paddy Kavanagh still twisting restlessly in his tomb, this four-day respite in Havana served as a timely reminder that Irish men and women are of a robust, true and noble stock, very much needed in these days of the global epidemic of post-Trumpwin stress disorder (about which more from Cuba anon).

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10 Years in the European Union / 10 Години в Европейския Съюз

tobulgaria

We like to organize time in easily measurable spans. We like to label those spans and ascribe certain characteristics to them. It’s all in retrospect, and in retrospect anew we re-label. The Dark Ages are now the Middle Ages and the longer we go on the more “Middle” seems a bit miscalculated, a misnomer needing a new name. We might now be in need of a second Age of Enlightenment and the world is still painfully reckoning with the fallout of the Age of Exploration. And of course of all of the foregoing is Eurocentric and says nothing of the way time is divided, referenced, and assessed by other cultures.

In our own lifetimes, we tend to fall back on the decade. And we tend to do the easy thing of measuring these spans of ten as beginning in a zero and ending in a nine even when, as in…

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Todds Well, Garthamlock, Glasgow, Lanarkshire

The Northern Antiquarian

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 66826 66603

Also Known as:

  1. Back o’ Brae Well

Getting Here

Site location on 1864 map Site location on 1864 map

Many ways to get here, via the M8 or the B806. Just get to the Glasgow Fort shopping centre on the northern edge of Easterhouse, above Provan Hall.  At the T-junction where the road from the Fort meets Auchinlea Road, note the sign saying ‘Todds Well’.  Walk along the winding path, keeping to the lower side, and as you swing round the small hill, keep your eyes peeled for the small burn emerging from the shrubs 10-20 yards off the track.  That’s the place.

Archaeology & History

Follow the track past the sign Follow the track past the sign

Thankfully this site still exists and the waters—slow though they flow—are quite drinkable (us lot drank here anyway!).  It was illustrated on the early OS-map of the area as the ‘Back o’ Brae Well’—no doubt gaining its name from…

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U2 and Dublin

Historical Tours Ireland

Dublin will always be at the heart of U2’s story. After all, it’s where it began. Take a pilgrimage through the city and soak up some rock and roll inspiration

Rock Stars

50 million albums sold, an all-time record of 22 Grammys, and some of the biggest tours of all time: just a few of U2’s many accomplishments. They’ve travelled the globe, they’ve performed in packed stadiums all around the world – but their heart belongs in Dublin. It’s where U2 was formed, and their connection runs so deeply with the city that they cite Dublin as the inspiration behind their hugely successful album, Songs of Innocence (nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album).

Bono's childhood home
Bono’s childhood home

Where it all started

Of course, to really get in touch with U2’s story, we have to go back. Way back, to a classroom in Mount Temple Comprehensive thirty-nine years ago…

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A whisky tour

Historical Tours Ireland

Is this the most chemically complicated drink in the world? Victoria Gill attempts to unlock some of the mysteries of Scotch malt whisky

In Short
  • The finely-tuned process of Scotch whisky production is governed by its own law – the Scotch Whisky Act
  • There are 92 malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, and each one has a slightly different process – with different stills, malts and casks for maturation
  • Under the Act, Scotch whisky must be matured for at least three years, during which time the spirit reacts with compounds in the timber casks
  • Chemists continue to study the complex effects of dilution on the sensory perception of whisky flavours
A whisky tour

When I worked in a tiny Edinburgh pub, I occasionally incurred the wrath of the regulars when the water jug sat on the bar wasn’t at room temperature by the time they wanted their whisky. So I’ve long been eager to…

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