Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Good evening, everyone – I’d especially like to welcome any newcomers who have found the blog through the Richard Armitage FanstRAvaganza. Thanks for following! 🙂

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the Republic of Ireland’s national day, celebrated amongst the Irish, Irish descendents, or just friends and fans of the Emerald Isle everywhere in the world. I’m in the “friends and fans” category. I’m currently doing a course in Celtic Studies, I’m a big fan of traditional Irish folk music, and the time period I’m most interested in in Irish history is approximately 1825-1925 or so. That period covers emigration, potato famine, the Easter Rising and the Civil War.

However, this is not a political or historical or religious blog, so celebrating will be in the shape of film. Two Irish films I particularly like are Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins (1996) and Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006). Same time period, similar topic.

Michael Collins (the video above is made from clips from this film) tells the story of the freedom-fighter and politician by the same name (1890-1922), and chronicles the time between the Easter Rising in 1916 until his death. It features actors such as Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Ian Hart, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn and Julia Roberts – all with varying skill levels when it comes to putting on an Irish accent, with Roberts definitely being the worst. Quinn slips into American on occasions, Neeson swirves from Cork to his native Northern Irish apparently, Rickman just sounds strange, but apparently Éamon de Valera had a bit of a strange accent in real life as well. Hart does a very good Cork accent – from what I can tell. A born and raised Swede living in England is perhaps not the best of judges of foreign regional accents. 😉 I can tell if stuff sounds wrong, but not properly distinguish between regions.

Anyway. It’s not a movie to everyone’s tastes. Some will undoubtedly find it slow, but I love it. It’s not entirely historically accurate, because it’s rather speculative when it comes to who was behind the assassination of the Big Fellow (which, by the way, is done by Jonathan Rhys Myers) and they’ve moulded a few different people into Ned Broy (Stephen Rea), and the retaliation attack at Croke Park didn’t happen exactly like it did in real life. – The part where the Black and Tans started shooting at innocent civilians there, however, is real, and is a part where I struggle not to cry over the cruelty of humans and war.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley follows two brothers, played by Cillian Murphy and Pádraic Delaney, and their lives between 1919 and 1923, through the War of Independence and the Civil War, and – of course – they end up on opposite sides. I’ve only seen it once, so I don’t remember too much of it, but it was brutal in places.

Both movies’ discussion boards on IMDb are rife with arguments (well, they were last time I looked). Some say for instance that tWtStB is just hatemongering and that some of the things they’re portraying never happened. Except of course that there are historical accounts that backs the film up. Ireland’s history with Britain isn’t pretty, and both sides have done some terrible things, but I think the answer isn’t to pretend it never happened. Rather, face it, learn from it, and move on.

I need to head off to bed as I have another early morning to look forward to tomorrow, so I’ll leave you with some song suggestions. These are some of my favourite Irish tunes:

  • Joe Spoons “Irish Soldier Laddie”
  • Paddy Reilly “Come Out You Black & Tans”
  • Dublin Fair “Jamboree”
  • Metallica “Whiskey in the Jar”
  • The Chieftains & Kelly Family “Rocky Road to Dublin”
  • Paddy’s Irish Clan “F*** the British Army”
  • Blackthorn “Paddy Lie Back”
  • Seán Ó Riada & Ceoltóirí Cualann “Marchslna Uí Néill”
  • The Pogues “Dirty Old Town”
  • The Dubliners “Weile Weile Waile”, “The Mero”, “Monto”, “The Ballad of Springhill”, “Johnson’s Motor Car”, “The Sea Around Us”, “Home Boys Home”, “The Manchester Rambler”, “Farewell to Carlingford”, “Hot Asphalt”, “Waterford Boys”, “Off to Dublin in the Green”, “A Nation Once Again”, “The Sick Note”, “The Holy Ground”, “The Foggy Dew”

(Okay, yes, I admit; I rather like the Dubliners – I wasn’t too keen on them at first, but after listening to the album Live at Carré, Amsterdam I was hooked!)

Éireann go Brách!

P.S. Here’s my tiny Dublin photo album

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