Daniel O’Connell in Paris

Daniel O’Connell in Paris

Image: Toulouse-Lautrec (Le Lit)

Dungarvan and some heroes and zeroes of Irish history...

1984

March

Nearby rose the beautiful bourgeois apartment blocks that surround Place Denfert-Rochereau. Beyond them lay Montparnasse and the neon of its cinemas.

Daniel OC in Paris

PS … here is the town’s only Nobel Prize winner, Ernest Walton, sharing his atomic secrets with a couple of local Russian spies …

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District 36

District 36

Boer War 2.0 … from Dungarvan to Pretoria, a rugby story for fans and non-fans 

14 September 2007

There was a crowd in the snug of the Anchor on the quay, watching a group match in the Rugby World Cup. Two Afrikaner doctors at the back of the crowd understandably savoured the sight of their team whitewashing England 36-0.

One gave a running commentary just for the benefit of the scattered, fuming Englishmen in the throng, which, being otherwise Irish, was reluctant to snigger – at least openly – in front of these English people, whom they knew.

Nonetheless he kept pushing, knowing the dam of politeness holding back the guffaws would burst eventually, which it did.

For someone like me, a late arrival, standing behind the Afrikaners was much more interesting, in an anthropological sense, than anything on TV, and anyway the rugby crowd would melt away after the match.

I noticed that, for a doctor, the commentator’s colleague wasn’t too well up on the English words for the, eh, ‘sports’ injuries being incurred by the English for bad measure.

Wat is “hamstring” ?
Dyspier.

After that and similar asides, the coup de grace in the public commentary finally came during a long stoppage.

It was for the river of blood (“Cor blimey”) that just happened to be running down the face of a different English player.

Efrika is a taff cantry, boys. No place for cissies.

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Old Parish and Helvick

Old Parish and Helvick

This is the Irish south coast, in the nominally Irish-speaking part of Co. Waterford that centres on An Rinn (‘Ring’, which translates as headland or promontory). The road signs are all in Irish, the schools teach through that medium, but most of the people there use English most of the time. Nevertheless if a visitor wants to speak the language, he or she will be accommodated. They all know it and can show it off. In any pub or café the language can commonly be overheard.

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The Old Parish (Sean Phobal) area, it is locally believed, was the first Christian parish in Ireland, in late Roman times, and indeed this part of the south coast was the first Christian part of the island. Many of the gravestone inscriptions are wholly or partly in Irish.

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One of the roads to Helvick Head from Old Parish is known as Sea View or Radharc na mara. Helvick is a place name of obvious Scandinavian origin and the rocky shelf to which the name refers can still be seen beyond where the fishing harbour wall meets the hill.