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Thread: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Quote Originally Posted by Fraxinus View Post

    I know I seem to be going off on a tangent there but a lot of our culture and myth has been telling us that all along...and almost in the exact space of time that we've started to ignore our tradition and lore, our surrounding environment here in this country has become substantially degraded. If you think of the ancient Brehon Laws, most of the trees were protected and myths had grown up around some of them to further instill reverence and respect. The whitethorn is probably the most obvious example and maybe even the only one still treated with that type of caution even today. Every tree on the list had a function and meaning and although I don't know were smaller plants given any type of legal notice but from reading a book called Irish Wild Plants, Myths, Legends and Folklore, it is clear that many of these were used practically or ritually by Irish people...some also more recent than others like rushes for St. Bridgets's crosses.

    I look down the list of some of the plants and honestly I think some people today would even struggle to know some of the more familiar ones like flag iris. From reading that though and from what I know about the trees it is clear that the people of this country who have gone before us were conciously tuned with the natural world both on a practical and spiritual level. The faery world seems to have been a constant reminder as well for the need for people to respect their surroundings. As the article you posted Con says, they are viewed as wild and untamed and have the power to control and influence us mere mortals above ground. Much like what the man that gave the talk I mentioned said...we are ultimately at the mercy of the earth and what's in it...we can ignore that fact and live in ignorance but it will come back to bite us.
    Your right, the Celts [our ancients] had a great attachment to the Earth with lores surrounding just about every living thing.

    The simpler things in everyday life are great teaching tools from the life death and resurrection of seasonal plants pointing to the continuity of the Soul.

    I watched a programme recently ''Lesser spotted Ulster'' which sees the narrator [Joe Mahon] travel to towns and villages examining local history, culture and so on. On this occasion he was chatting with a basket weaver on a lake shore in Fermanagh.
    In the course of conversation it was told that the Irish basket design was much desired throughout Europe for it's strength and practicality.

    When the weaver was asked from were did he learn the ancient skill he described how he had asked an old man [who was the only one around making such things] to teach him and that when he did the old man looked at him with a tear in his eyes.

    I think that shows how much it meant to the old man that the tradition and skills would be passed on and preserved.

    Some time ago i began to create a ''Druids Garden'' of my own design bringing together sacred plants. A number of them are protected under Laws which prohibit them being removed from the wild.

    You might think that this is because of some wildlife preservation policy but it's more likely because many of them were used by Druids in what much of Christianity would call Satanic practices or in Witchcraft.

    A nibble from the upper leaves of a Foxglove for example will kill you stone dead. The same plant produces one of the leading medicines in the treatment of heart disease today and in days gone by were essential to a Witch being able to take flight. Other plants can be ate or crushed to make glue and ward off evil spirits.

    So, as i said earlier everything surrounding our ancients had some practical use and whichever did were regarded as sacred.

    You don't see this simplicity taught today.

    Everything you would need to know about life can be taught in the simplest ways through nature and i dare say that if we were to come back to this as a teaching tool via the lores we could instill in people respect, moral and other values that complicated regimental Christianity has gone to such lengths to scrub out of our cultural consciousness.
    Happiness is an inside job.

  2. #17
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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    It occurs that there is a comparison to be drawn between the effects of modern life and natural human rhythms.

    When you consider that we know the amount of daylight (and therefore vitamins from sunlight) affects things like depression in a population, an example being the high incidence of depression in Scandinavian countries, you have to wonder really whether a gap between expectations of a workforce by the highly imitative Ireland Inc actually causes a cultural stress factor.

    Difficult for me to tell as it is a perception on my part but Irish society was notable and sometimes curiously admired by foreign tourists for its laid back attitude in rural areas particularly- and much remarked on. That appears to be a matter for scorn these days but you have to wonder with the distress indicators currently across sectors of the Irish population is Ireland Inc damaging Ireland itself.

    Corporations make great play out of their wellbeing policies and all that jazz in teaching their people how to handle stress while invariably reducing headcount and loading more work on the remainder- the ideal being a workforce slightly less than is required for the work at hand and everyone working at 110% capacity to make up for it. That would be the perfect situation from the point of view of Directors and Shareholders. But it does have an accumulated effect on a workforce with daft unreachable targets and just about coping and so on.

    The national social move towards that 'busy, busy' model- has that had an effect on increased stress rates in Irish society?
    Think National. Act Local. Oh- and superstition is just the dark matter of human history.

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    I've just put the Opening Post up as a blog post on the PW Blog -

    http://itsapoliticalworld.wordpress.com/

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Ah jayze ... I've a feeling politicalworld blogposts by myself will one day constitute a large part of the evidence read out against me in court

    Ta CF...
    Think National. Act Local. Oh- and superstition is just the dark matter of human history.

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    I think alot of the stress in Ireland actually comes from extra-curricular or non-work things that people load on themselves. There is alot of 'keeping up with the joneses' when it comes to the Irish middle class imitating American or other affluent anglophone countries' lifestyles they've seen on the idiot box. You know the kind of thing I mean, bringing the children to music lessons, grinds, sports activities, art classes, etc, which eats into precious time, and of course leaves alot of mothers driving around the place bringing their different children here there and everywhere. It's a very similar lifestyle to the Australian middle class, and it has displaced alot of old things like kids running around the streets or backroads, learning traditional music in the home from their parents (though that still happens, albeit at a much lower scale).

    I was also having a think about the effect modern technology has had on culture. Irish social life used to be replete with story-telling, singing and dancing. When I look at my paternal grandparents, they know easily five hundred (and possibly more) different songs between the two of them, as well as older stories, and they are not highly educated by any means (formally that is, they are very wise and shrewd without needing a cert). If you were to walk into a pub in Dublin today (or most other places for that matter) and started a sing-song, it's likely the only songs you'd get would be American/British pop songs with the occasional 'fields of Athenry' thrown in there. The loss of the oral culture, the béaloideas as it used to be called as gaeilge, has really to my mind been the death knell for distinctive Irish rural culture, the culture of the villages and spailpíns.
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  6. #21
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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Good points Anti ... the danger of replacing the best things about Irish society and culture with an ersatz corporate eurotrash background to daily life is there. I often see comment about the UK from English people where so much of England is now a version of a stripmall- a Tesco, a McDonalds, an industrial 'park', a Tesco, an Argos or Dreamland Bed Warehouse, another Tesco .. etc etc.

    I don't think the French are too happy either with the elements of that they see growing in France- the bland emanations of the off-plan retail lifestyle and the throwaway culture.

    All offshoots of corporate thinking, economies of scale, and competitive pricing.
    Think National. Act Local. Oh- and superstition is just the dark matter of human history.

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Quote Originally Posted by antiestablishmentarian View Post
    I think alot of the stress in Ireland actually comes from extra-curricular or non-work things that people load on themselves. There is alot of 'keeping up with the joneses' when it comes to the Irish middle class imitating American or other affluent anglophone countries' lifestyles they've seen on the idiot box. You know the kind of thing I mean, bringing the children to music lessons, grinds, sports activities, art classes, etc, which eats into precious time, and of course leaves alot of mothers driving around the place bringing their different children here there and everywhere. It's a very similar lifestyle to the Australian middle class, and it has displaced alot of old things like kids running around the streets or backroads, learning traditional music in the home from their parents (though that still happens, albeit at a much lower scale).

    I was also having a think about the effect modern technology has had on culture. Irish social life used to be replete with story-telling, singing and dancing. When I look at my paternal grandparents, they know easily five hundred (and possibly more) different songs between the two of them, as well as older stories, and they are not highly educated by any means (formally that is, they are very wise and shrewd without needing a cert). If you were to walk into a pub in Dublin today (or most other places for that matter) and started a sing-song, it's likely the only songs you'd get would be American/British pop songs with the occasional 'fields of Athenry' thrown in there. The loss of the oral culture, the béaloideas as it used to be called as gaeilge, has really to my mind been the death knell for distinctive Irish rural culture, the culture of the villages and spailpíns.
    Just read this and it reminded me of a story telling festival that takes place down the country every year down in Cape Clear

    http://www.capeclearstorytelling.com/

    Anti hit the nail on the head about the singing in the pubs. If you walk into a pub nowdays and did try to start a sing song more than likely the publican would throw you out on your ear citing its breaching the peace! Years ago I remember going to Doolin on holiday and other little villages in Clare and my parents would bring me and the brother with them and we would occasionaly find someone singing sean nos or an impromptu session. All around town in Temple Bar especially there is not really much of this, its mostly just modern songs and other trouristy rubbish but there is two spots I know that still do what they may term seisuins! The Cobble Stone on Smithfield (great little locals local too called Delaneys beside it) and the Celtc on Talbot St in Dublin.

    Irish sense of humour is another thing I have not see touched upon. Does anyone think we have a really dark sense of humour? As nation being what we have been through it act as a release valve through the years to aid us and help us cope as a nation with everything from dreary weather to famine to everything else in between.
    History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat - Rosa Luxembourg

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Thats a great point fluffy- Irish humour. It can be very dark alright. Don't want to go off on too much of a tangent as I can gas for Corrib on the subject but Beckett had that down like a surgeon. So did Brien O'Nolan/Flann.

    Peculiarly enough I think a writer who has suffered somewhat from the slings and arrows of outrageous legal fortune and is condemned by the insufferably politically correct is JP Dunleavy who I think had a beautiful way of revealing the Irish humour in both adversity and off the pig's back. I'm thinking of Darcy Dancer or Beasty Beatitudes of Balthazar B- anyway- enough of book musing.

    We are known though for a definite strain of humour and a liking for the slightly absurd- I recall reading somewhere that the definition of a classic comedy situation was where a central character was trapped in some definable way- Basil Fawlty in the Torquay hotel where he definitely didn't want to be ... Ronnie Barker's 'Fletcher' actually physically trapped in jail, Del Boy and Rodders trapped in financial exile in Peckham ... Fr Ted trapped with a moron and a collection of lunatics on Craggy Island and so on.

    Sense of humour and an examination of the distinctly Irish sense of humour might be a great way to track the national psychology alright.
    Think National. Act Local. Oh- and superstition is just the dark matter of human history.

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Con O'Sullivan View Post
    Thats a great point fluffy- Irish humour. It can be very dark alright. Don't want to go off on too much of a tangent as I can gas for Corrib on the subject but Beckett had that down like a surgeon. So did Brien O'Nolan/Flann.

    Peculiarly enough I think a writer who has suffered somewhat from the slings and arrows of outrageous legal fortune and is condemned by the insufferably politically correct is JP Dunleavy who I think had a beautiful way of revealing the Irish humour in both adversity and off the pig's back. I'm thinking of Darcy Dancer or Beasty Beatitudes of Balthazar B- anyway- enough of book musing.

    We are known though for a definite strain of humour and a liking for the slightly absurd- I recall reading somewhere that the definition of a classic comedy situation was where a central character was trapped in some definable way- Basil Fawlty in the Torquay hotel where he definitely didn't want to be ... Ronnie Barker's 'Fletcher' actually physically trapped in jail, Del Boy and Rodders trapped in financial exile in Peckham ... Fr Ted trapped with a moron and a collection of lunatics on Craggy Island and so on.

    Sense of humour and an examination of the distinctly Irish sense of humour might be a great way to track the national psychology alright.
    Just as a starting point look at this

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&...hology&f=false

    Now I have not read any of it but one thing that strikes me. Irish men in themselves are not open about things, they would be one of the main proponents of humour. Why? Its classic defelction technique, make little of something so the subject is avoided....
    History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat - Rosa Luxembourg

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Following on the Captains points in relation to Irish Brehon law and using the Wikipedia entry a few of the useful sections that we could borrow today that could perhaps be used to change our legal system or tweak it that we may find useful. Lets not forget it was bang up to date in terms of pre nups, womens rights but unfortunately it also gave special prominence to the clergy

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Irish_law

    Under old Irish Brehon law, a victim had the right to face his accuser directly, there was no legal representations . Modern days this would I imagine be the equivelant of the victim impact statement and that a victim would perhaps be able to represent themselves but would need to be familiar with the legal system. What about a system where by an accuser can face the accused in a modern court for a period of twenty minutes ?

    One particular aspect I liked was that if someone was phsycially assaulted, the perpetrator was responsible for caring for the person and finding suitable nursing and accommodation while he recuperated. While obviously the person who is the perpetrator wont be caring there should be a burden on them perhaps to look for suitable care for the injured party.

    There are a few more worth looking at but just two I thought might be of interest.
    History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat - Rosa Luxembourg

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    I think that some of the overt / covert thing may come from having been occupied. One of the ways of foxing the invaders is to turn all the signposts around so they face the wrong way. Or simply not to have any signposts.

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Great point there CF... it may be that we have become so used to hiding what defines us culturally beneath a veneer of assumed 'modernity' that there is an automatic unhappiness in it.

    On the Brehon Laws there fluffy that's right- that would be the principle of restitution. On the subject of priests I'd have no problem with a civilised respect for priests as people with an education provided they were subject to the law- and they were subject to the Brehon Law and not some made-up nonsense from Rome.

    Priests should have a status as educated people who serve the community. Unfortunately they escaped the laws of the land and that in turn I feel attracted only those who had reason to seek a profession not subject in practical terms to the law.

    Just goes to show that there can be no exceptions to the social contract described by law- it either applies to everyone or it will inevitably corrode into disrespect and degradation.
    Think National. Act Local. Oh- and superstition is just the dark matter of human history.

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Con O'Sullivan View Post
    Great point there CF... it may be that we have become so used to hiding what defines us culturally beneath a veneer of assumed 'modernity' that there is an automatic unhappiness in it.

    On the Brehon Laws there fluffy that's right- that would be the principle of restitution. On the subject of priests I'd have no problem with a civilised respect for priests as people with an education provided they were subject to the law- and they were subject to the Brehon Law and not some made-up nonsense from Rome.

    Priests should have a status as educated people who serve the community. Unfortunately they escaped the laws of the land and that in turn I feel attracted only those who had reason to seek a profession not subject in practical terms to the law.

    Just goes to show that there can be no exceptions to the social contract described by law- it either applies to everyone or it will inevitably corrode into disrespect and degradation.
    Just on the part that I highlighted. Where they breach trust with a minor they need to face the full force of the law.
    History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat - Rosa Luxembourg

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    I quite agree Fluffy.

    You asked I think about an assertion I made and continue to make that in Irish public life much of the dissatisfaction with low level crime (invariably that which is the most upsetting and antisocial to most people) comes from the legal system we operate which is in fact English Common Law which arrived with Strongbow and has only been enforced at the behest of the English Crown and is currently enforced by the inheritors of that system in the modern Irish state.

    I took a look around to see if there were any useful summaries which would help to explain my thoughts and came across a useful summary of 'early Irish law' on the website of the Irish Court Service, somewhat amusingly.

    Some extracts from the summary;

    'In many respects Brehon law was quite progressive. It recognised divorce and equal rights between the genders and also showed concern for the environment. In criminal law, offences and penalties were defined in great detail. Restitution rather than punishment was prescribed for wrongdoing. Cases of homicide or bodily injury were punishable by means of the eric fine, the exact amount determined by a scale. Capital punishment was not among the range of penalties available to the Brehons. The absence of either a court system or a police force suggests that people had strong respect for the law. '

    and

    'It was not until the reign of King Henry VIII in the mid-16th century that English law extended further. He implemented a scheme of 'surrender and re-grant' of the land held by native noble families, which brought them within the feudal system of land tenure. Moreover, the King's break with the Roman Catholic Church led to the dissolution of the monasteries and the re-distribution of church land. English law gained a further foothold following the 'Flight of the Earls' from Ulster in 1607 and the consequent Plantation which saw the land being granted to Scottish and English settlers. The Flight of the Earls had an added significance in that it removed the Brehons' remaining source of patronage.'

    http://www.courts.ie/Courts.ie/libra...9?opendocument

    It would be news to many people that the 'Irish' legal system was in fact a hangover from the English Common Law- although to those of us aware of the fatuous posturing of the wigwearers of Kings Inn and the closed shop greasy till actions of the Irish gombeen lawyers around the various tribunals the ripples of the colonist mind are not that hard to detect.

    In examining the Irish spirit or sense of itself as expressed in the symbols and offices of the nation the natural tendency is to examine that which is homogenous across the population, the surveyed majority response, the average across as many people as possible and all professions are wont to look naturally to this.

    But with Ireland one can't help wondering whether we are still, as we were historically, framed by the divisions and not the whole. English dominance of Ireland was achieved by the Ministers of Elizabeth the First and Henry the Eighth by a policy of divide and conquer- the Norman strain of adept advantage taken of societies organised into minor septs and petty kingdoms to set one against another and pick up the pieces afterwards and the history of Irish law shows that clearly.
    Think National. Act Local. Oh- and superstition is just the dark matter of human history.

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    Default Re: Towards a diagnosis of the Irish spirit; the overt and the clandestine

    There is no doubt about one thing. Brehon laws were ahead of their time in that they certainly conferred a lot of rights on to minorities at the time which at the moment we are only beginning to do . It would be a fait assunption to say that Irish law now with the English left overs are nothing compared to what seems to be a robust system that was in place a thousand years ago!
    History is the only true teacher, the revolution the best school for the proletariat - Rosa Luxembourg

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