Archive for February, 2006

Love Ulster parade @ Dublin this Saturday

Love Ulster parade. And sure who could love ’em up there which is why the want to come down here and parade. Oxymoronically? (no, this does not mean a procession of bull headed men but rather the incongruous wording associated with this parade). Well this Saturday, at 12.30 the Love Ulster parade leaves Parnell square, along O’Connell street, past the GPO and onto Leinster House.

Now, I’ve never heard a Lambeg drum but I sure would like to hear that amazing sound. This Orangeman and Loyalist parade of Ulster Scots is historical for Dublin. Twenty bands wanted to parade but permission was given for only six. It is organized by William Frazer of the South Armagh Protestant victims’ group (not victims of Protestants) – Families of the Innocent (FAIR). The Orange Order Lodge has asked them not to wear their collerettes and instead they will carry orange lilies. However, Ian Paisley’s independent Orange order (always a breakaway man, aye!) will be wearing their collerettes.

‘Businessmen are the new revolutionaries.’

In the irritating half rain/half hail falling on Temple Bar I arrived for the tail end (or is that tale end?) of a book launch at Anthology Books in Meeting House Square this evening. The book? Aisling Ltd by Sean Harnett, a first and most enjoyable novel which arrived as an advanced reader’s copy on my desk in the Irish Times a few months back. Following a tentative enquiry from publisher Hag’s Head Press (part of Lilliput), I’d agreed to have a look at what was somewhat worryingly described in the advance bumf as ‘the first major literary work to dissect the excitement, idealism and hubris that fed the Celtic Tiger.’ The reason they wanted to send it to me was the eponymous Aisling Ltd is a tech consultancy full of resentful programmers, an overweaning, nasty CFO, a self-styled visionary CEO dubbed ‘the buddha of irish business’ by the Irish media, and prone to spouting new age marketing mantras, and a dislikeable central character hired as a Content Specialist.

In other words, my kind of novel. Still, I was a bit apprehensive settling in with it one evening when I thought I’d better dig in so I could get it off the ‘to do’ list. Instead, I found it a very compelling and fun read from a new writer who shows great promise in this first venture. Anyone who worked in or around the tech industry from the 90s to noughties will enjoy this novel and recognise the world Harnett creates — and have a few sniggers too. Harnett captures the atmosphere and the undercurrent of nastiness and paranoia as the boom went bust very well.

I had one specific reason for wanting to attend the launch. Besides wanting to say hello to the mysterious Sean, I was dying to find out who he’d worked for on the tech front as his bio on the cover is coyly vague. The reason I wanted to know who he worked for is to try and see who he’d modelled his egomaniac guru CEO Lawrence Cooley after… if anybody in particular! Well, Sean told me who he’d worked for (several companies with an Irish dotcom profile) and I laughed — that explained some things, for sure. He also told me the central inspiration for Larry — but if I told you, well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Have a read of Aisling Ltd and have a guess; I’m not ruining the fun!

It was so good….

It was so good, I didn’t want to steal another. That was my reaction to the fantastic movie Good Night and Good Luck. Normally, I go to one of those multi-plex movie houses to see one good movie, I think I’d like and to steal another.

Dublin Photography

I have a huge interest in photography, and a lot of my postings here appear to have a photo-orientated slant to them. So, I guess it’s time for another.

There are lots of wonderful photographers around this city of ours, and lots of photo collections of Dublin up there on the net. The group here even have our own Flickr group of photo’s.

But, possibly the best collection of Dublin, and in fact Irealand based photographs that I have yet to find belongs to Philip Pankov who’s black and white imagery is quite simply, stunning! I suggest that after you browse around here a little that you check out his images also.

Dublin demo against puppy farms Thur 23rd

DSC00833.jpg According to the tourist brochures, Ireland is a land of literature, music, pints and friendly people — but one of its darker secrets is that it is also the puppy farm capital of Europe. Due to weak legislation and effectively, no regulation, dogs can be bred in Ireland in battery-farm operations (small cages, cardboard boxes, darkened disused farm buildings, and worse) that have been condemned internationally for their cruel conditions and the poor health and quality of the dogs produced. If you live in Ireland, you have probably seen the images of dogs and puppies taken in appalling conditions during raids on such operations over the past two years. If you live in the US, Canada or UK and have checked out the internet for a purebred puppy, you’ll probably have seen where these puppies end up — sold to you through brokers as puppies from ‘champion Irish dogs’. The broker will usually say their cousin/sister/best friend back in Ireland breeds these dogs. The Irish Kennel Club registration is usually faked. The brokers make a fortune, as do the puppy farms back on the ‘ould sod’, who operate in a grey area where taxes aren’t usually paid and nothing is spent on ensuring the pups are healthy or humanely kept. Read more on this bleak industry here.

In 2004, after a series of particularly horrific raids, the Irish government formed a working group to try and tackle this problem. Many months later, the group submitted a report and a solid series of recommendations, all based on enhancing existing legislation so that action could be taken immediately (taking the primary legislation route could take years).

That was last autumn. Since then, a new Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, has dragged his feet on implementing the report ordered by his predessor in that office, offering a series of excuses that suggest the goal is to do nothing at all about these ‘farms’, not in the lifetime of this government.

So now it’s YOUR chance. A demonstration will be held this Thursday, 23rd February, from 5pm-6pm at the Kildare St gate of Dail Eireann to show that Irish people care about this issue and are sick of this country having the appalling reputation as Europe’s puppy farm capital. Organisers will be asking the Minister to act on the report and will hand in this online petition. Be sure to sign it. If you can, come along on Thursday, bring your dog, and make sure this issue can’t go off the government agenda.

Harbour to Harbour on Paddy’s day

Perhaps one of the better this to do this St Patrick’s day, is to take part in the Harbour to Harbour walk around Dublin Bay in aid of AWARE.

AWARE is the organization that supports people suffering from depression, a worthy cause if ever there was one. Depression is a terrible illness, and people DO suffer hurt and there should be no shame in thier wanting to seek aid and support. We only have to recall the recent tragic events where a mother took her own life and that of her two sons when she cracked under the strain of trying to cope with the illness. It is a loney disease. One where the suffer spirals inwards and lacks the ability to communicate thier pain. Patrick’s day has become too much an alcoholic celebration that makes the depression even more biting as people feel more isolated in a crowd. I lost a cousin to suicide on Paddy’s day. One of the sad statistic of young men in Ireland who takes their own life. And my cousin. May he rest in peace.

So what a better way to celebrate Paddy’s day to say we understand, are aware and recognition that this illness effects us all in one way or another and there is no shame in it. It is a pain like any other and can be helped by a good auld brisk walk. You can do with with your family, friends or on your own, in company. It will be fun and I’ll be there.

The Harbour to Harbour Fun walk takes place at 10.30 on March 17th. You can go from Howth to DunLaoghaire or ‘other way round. What could nicer, the 14.2 miles around the beautiful Dublin Bay. Hospitality on the other side. A certificate of Merit. You photo taken with St Patrick.

And if that is not enough, the event is in association with the DART, so you can hop on train and return in comfort.

For registration and sponsorship, contact Dermot or Louise at AWARE, phone 01 661 7211.

Irish Blog Awards Shortlist

The shortlist is out today for the inaugural Irish Blog Awards to be held in Dublin on the 11th of next month. The reason I mention it (ahead of the triumphant nomination of the Metroblog next year, of course..) is that the nominees give you a fairly broad example of the Irish blogging experience and are well worth dipping into if you’re not from these parts and would like to know who we are…

Irish Blog Awards


The Pope And The Dalek…

Did loads in and around town on Saturday but the one I want to share here happened while me and my other half were having pints in the Front Lounge on Parliament Street. The football was on the flatscreen (swiftly followed by Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on DVD which the couple beside us started at with a disturbing intensity; I think it stopped them from having to deal with each other) and there was an exhibition of art on the walls that was brilliant to start with and only got better as the night went on :-)

All screen prints (at least I think that’s right) in bright, vivid primary colours with beautifully surreal images (mostly in shadow.) The Pope with the bottom half of a dalek, 2 giant helicopters preparing to drop a fully completed Ikea store on a landscape, the iconic image from Vietnam of a man pointing apistol at another’s head about to shoot but the gun has been replaced by a hairdryer…

The guy who created them all is Will St Leger and it’s a safe bet that if I was a far more rich, famous radio presenter I’d have his stuff hanging in my house…


Guinness Blog

So, people think of Dublin, or people think of Ireland, and they inevitably think of Guinness. The city, the country and the drink go hand in hand. I figure if you’re reading this, you A) have an interest in Dublin, and B) have an interest in blogging. So, that would make me think that you’d be interested in checking out the Guinness Blog.

(hint, if you’re living outside of one of the countries listed, don’t say so, or you won’t be able to view the blog itself)

See Iraq with Trocaire

Irish aid agency Trocaire are currently running a photo exhibition entitled ‘Clearing through the danger: The human face of conflict in Iraq’. The exhibition is taken by award winning photographer Sean Sutton, and features photo’s of people during their normal day to day life in Iraq, in what is a worsening human rights situation.

The exhibition is open until February 25th in Trocaire’s office on Cathedral St (beside the Pro Cathedral, 2 minutes walk from The Spire).

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