Posts filed under ‘.Europe’


by Eavan Boland

Back from Dublin, my grandmother
finds an eviction notice on her door.
Now she is in court for rent arrears.
The lawyers are amused.
These are the Petty Sessions,
this is Drogheda, this is the Bank Holiday.
Their comments fill a column in the newspaper.
Was the notice well served?
Was it served at all?
Is she a weekly or a monthly tenant?
In which one of the plaintiffs’ rent books
is she registered?
The case comes to an end, is dismissed.
Leaving behind the autumn evening.
Leaving behind the room she entered.
Leaving behind the reason I have always
resisted history.
A woman leaves a courtroom in tears.
A nation is rising to the light.
History notes the second, not the first.
Nor does it know the answer as to why
on a winter evening
in a modern Ireland
I linger over the page of the Drogheda
Argus and Leinster Journal, 1904,
knowing as I do that my attention has
no agency, none at all. Nor my rage.

July 5, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

The Wild Rover


May 29, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Sequana: The Legend of the Seine River


May 19, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

“All My Mothers” -The Story of Yehudith Kleinman

April 21, 2020 at 4:21 am Leave a comment

Hymn to Freedom

Happy Greek Independence Day!

I recognize you by the fearsome sharpness,
of your sword,
I recognize you by your face
that defines the land (i.e. the land’s borders).

From the sacred bones,
of the Hellenes arisen,
and valiant again as you once were,
Hail, o hail, Liberty!


March 25, 2020 at 3:25 am 1 comment

There are ships that sail the sea

“There are good ships and wood ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships, may they always be!”

Irish Proverb


March 19, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Irish Names

Excerpt from the ‘All in a Name‘ exhibition at Dublin airport:

Irish surnames are one of the most intriguing parts of the Irish culture. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to adopt a system of hereditary surnames, which came into being in the 11th century. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the first chief of the tribe, who was usually an illustrious warrior.

It was common practise to drop the O / Mac in Irish names, to better assimilate into English civilisation. Many families dropped the use in the 1500s and 1600s. However, in the mid 1800s many families resumed the use of O / Mac. These included wealthy families in Ireland under the influence of cultural nationalism, and immigrant families in North America who felt free of English rule.

O’Donnell, Donegal
The O’Donnells ruled Donegal from the 1200s to the early 1600s.
They also extended their rule to several surrounding counties and were bitter and long-standing enemies of their distant cousins, the O’Neills.
Famous chief, Manus the Magnificent, was a warlord who liked to crush the skulls of his enemies once he decapitated them.
Manus’ grandson Red Hugh O’Donnell married the daughter of Hugh O’Neill and cemented an alliance between the two families.
Together, they almost drove the English out of Ireland, until they were defeated in the Battle of Kinsale.

Byrne, Dublin
The O’Byrnes were the leading clan of the Wicklow mountains.
They mounted raids against the Anglo-Normans in the lowlands of South Dublin.
Between 1300 and 1500, the O’Byrnes were such a thorn in the side of the Dublin government that the city paid them ‘black rent’ or protection money.
In the 1550s, Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne of Glenmalure in South Wicklow rebelled against the Dublin government.
He was later beheaded and his head was placed on a spike over the gate of Dublin Castle for several months before being presented to Queen Elizabeth 1.

O’Carroll, Tipperary
The O’Carrolls descend from north-eastern Tipperary and southern Offaly.
The Norman conquest pushed them to the further north, but in 1325 the O’Carrolls struck back in raids.
They eventually defeated their rivals after two decades of warfare.
The O’Carrolls built castles at Leap, Birr, Clonlisk and overruled the Normans at Roscrea.
One of the most famous O’Carrolls is Margaret O’Carroll. In 1443 she held two great feasts for over 2,700 guests.
Under the 1620 Plantation of Offaly, most of the O’Carrolls lost their lands.

Kelly, Galway
While there are several O’Kelly clans in Ireland, the most important were the O’Kellys in east Galway and south Roscommon.
The first to use the surname O’Kelly was Murrough, grandson of the original Cellach, in 952.
Murrough O’Kelly led his men across the Shannon in Offaly to a major military victory against their neighbours in 1014.
His son Tadg O’Kelly, was slain at the battle of Clontarf supporting the high-king, Brian Boru, in his victory against the Vikings.
In the 13th century the arrival of the Normans into Connacht saw the O’Kellys lose a lot of territory, but this was only for a brief period.
In 1307, the O’Kellys captured the Norman town of Roscommon and slaughtered its inhabitants.

McCarthy, Kerry
Mac Carthys are the descendents of the ancient Eoghanacht, kings of Munster, who ruled the province until they were sidelined by the O’Briens.
In the fifth century the clan took the name MacCarthy from king Cartach of Cashel.
In 1045, the O’Briens surrounded his house and burned him alive.
The MacCarthy’s were driven out of southern Tipperary into Cork, where they faced new opposition from the Anglo-Norman invaders.
The MacCarthy kings of Desmond retained much of their original territory in West Cork and South Kerry.

Murphys in Wexford
There were clans of Murphys spread throughout ancient Ireland, but Co Wexford was home to more Murphys than any other part of Ireland.
It is estimated that over 50,000 people in Ireland are of the Murphy name.
But this Irish name is so popular that it can now be found all over the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The Murphy name itself, which means ‘sea warrior’, takes its form from two very different ancient Gaelic clans – the O’Murchadha and the MacMurchadha.
However, it is now reasonably uncommon to come across usage of the family names O’Murphy and MacMurphy.


March 17, 2020 at 3:17 am Leave a comment


Quanno viè la Candelora
da l’inverno sémo fóra,
ma se piove o tira vènto,
ne l’inverno semo dentro.

Madonna della Candelora
dall’inverno siamo fuori
Se piove o tira vento
nell’inverno siamo dentro

Se la vien con sol e bora
de l’inverno semo fora.
Se la vien con piova e vento,
de l’inverno semo drento.

Se a Candelora non piove, siamo fuori dall’Inverno;
Ma se piove e tira vento, son altri 40 dì di brutto tempo.

If on the day of Candelora it doesn’t rain, winter is almost over;
If, on the opposite, it’s windy and it rains, 40 more days of bad weather will follow.


February 2, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

À la Chandeleur

À la Chandeleur, l’hiver se meurt ou prend vigueur.
At Candlemas, the winter either dies away or gets stronger.

À la Chandeleur, au grand jour, les grandes douleurs.
Candlemas, everyone knows, brings great sorrows.

Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte
Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost

À la Chandeleur, grande neige et froideur.
At Candlemas, great snow and cold.

À la Chandeleur, le froid fait douleur.
At Candlemas, the cold is pain.

Rosée à la Chandeleur, l’hiver à sa dernière heure.
If there’s dew at Candlemas, winter is almost over.

Si la chandelle est belle et claire, nous avons l’hiver derrière.
If the “candle” is beautiful and clear, we have left winter behind.

Chandeleur à ta porte, c’est la fin des feuilles mortes.
When Candlemas comes your door, it’s the end of dead leaves.

Candlemas – La Fête de la Chandeleur

February 2, 2020 at 2:02 am Leave a comment

I giorni della Merla

Winter legends for an Italian 2020

Traditionally, January is considered the coldest month of the year in Italy, especially its last three days, the 29th, 30th and 31st, which we call Giorni della Merla, or the “female blackbird days.” Weather experts debunked this myth, but Italians still love the legend, without a doubt tied for many of them to beautiful childhood memories.

You see, blackbirds, or so the story goes, used to be as white and snow and used to collect food to keep in their nest during the early weeks of winter, so that they could survive the icy days of January without leaving it: their aim was to finally peak out of their home only when the sun was back high in the sky. And so did they, a long time ago, finally flying out of their tree on the 28th of January, mocking the winter with their chirping: the cold season did no longer frighten them!

But Winter didn’t appreciate all that joy and chit-chat, nor the birds’ benevolent mocking, so it sent out the coldest, iciest of winds, that froze the earth over and destroyed all of the blackbirds’ nests. Left without shelter, they found refuge in chimneys, comforted by their warmth. But when the storm ended in February and they flew out in the sky again, their feathers had turned black because of the sooth they had lived in for the past three days.

This is why, we all learned as children, blackbirds are black.


January 29, 2020 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

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