Ireland

The Election of Jack Murphy in 1957 | The Irish Story

Interesting and scarily relevant article about an unemployed TD in 1957 Ireland.

In the Dáil / Hunger strike
Murphy had difficulty trying to get answers to even the most basic questions in the Dáil. He could not even get an answer to how much unemployment relief money was being spent in Dublin.[32]

In May Murphy and two other members of the UPC, Tommy Kavanagh and Jimmy Byrne, began a hunger strike to highlight unemployment and to protest against the removal of food subsidies in the budget.[33]

The hunger strike lasted four days and each evening thousands of protestors gathered on the corners of Abbey Street and O’Connell Street.[34] Resolutions of support came in from trade union branches all over the country and there were demands for a one day strike.

via The Election of Jack Murphy in 1957 | The Irish Story.

Florence MacCarthy, the last MacCarthy Mor, 1560-1640 | The Irish Story

John Dorney has a really excellent article over on The Irish Story today about Florence MacCarthy. if you ever wondered about the complexities of Irish 16th and 17th Century history (and if not why not? it’s a fascinating period that shows the best and worst of human nature), this is one for you.

Florence MacCarthy, the last MacCarthy Mor, 1560-1640 | The Irish Story.

Listowel Writer’s Week, Blogging & Paul O’Mahony

First things first, everyone should read Paul O’Mahony’s description of recent events at the Listowel Writer’s Week over at the excellent blog of the festival which he runs in conjunction with Patrick Stack: Listowel Writers’ Week Fringe

The core of his narrative is this section:

I was on my way out of the Michael Hartnett memorial event at about 2.15pm on Sunday when a cross woman came up to me. She demanded ”Have you recorded that session?”

“Yes”, I replied gently – but my heart was starting to beat strongly as I experienced the woman’s anger, the rage on her face.

“Who gave you permission?”

“No one.”

“You are a disgrace. You had no right to do that” – the woman was very agitated and I was nervous.

She reached over and gripped my arm. “How dare you.” Her grip felt fierce. This was in front of at least twenty people including Christopher Reid & Anthony Cronin. I had never met the woman before.

“I’m from the Writers’ Week Committee for 23 years. You are a disgrace. You are not welcome in Writers’ Week.” I felt in a difficult situation: she would not let go of my arm.

Paul is calling for an apology and an assurance that non-one else will be treated in such a fashion again;

I do want an apology. I feel I’m entitled to a public apology from the whole Committee of Writers’ Week – because I want to be assured that the official view and style is completely different from what I was subjected to. I ask the Chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week Michael Lynch to make this clear in public not for my benefit but for the sake of others in future.

Just to be clear, if Paul didn’t have permission to record the event then his actions, however well intended, were wrong. Both the poets and the owner of the property have the right to prevent him recording. He ought to have sought express permission.

But the reaction to his recording was hugely disproportionate. A quiet request to erase the file or to secure retrospective permission would have been more appropriate.

Paul has never and will never seek to profit from it, his goal is simply to share the experience and help promote the festival online. His fringe blog has been one of the few ways people could track what is a publicly funded festival on a daily basis without attending (something not everyone can do). It is manifestly A VERY GOOD THING for the festival, the poets, the writers, the attendees, those who couldn’t attend and the wider arts community in Ireland and online.

In an age where the greatest danger to artists is not piracy but obscurity, bloggers like Paul should be encouraged by festivals and supported by writers.

I’ll be sending an e-mail to the committee to that effect later today.
Eoin

A Quick Note On Media 2020

qrcode Others have written decent summaries on what happened at Media 2020, a conference on the future of media in Ireland that was run by Media Contact in Croke Park Conference Centre yesterday. Blathnaid Healy has a blog summary using Twitter hastags [clever methinks] and Fin O’Reilly has an interesting round-up too. I wanted to add some thoughts on three things, one that struck me while I was listening to speakers and the others that became obvious as I digested the event.

we are behind our competitors
The first thought is that we are quite a ways behind our competitors. This became obvious when BBC Backstage producer Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) spoke. He had tried just about everything Irish media companies were thinking of or had just launched.

This came to a comical head when one of the mythic future techs mentioned, QR Codes, came up for discussion on a panel. He mentioned an experiment that the BBC had done in a zoo using, QR Codes, and almost casually mentioned that it was three years ago. I had a good laugh at that. Matt Locke (@mattlock) from Channel Four hit some similar notes too as did Jonathon Moore (@moorej) from Guardian Media.

The import of this was obvious to me. Ireland is behind other countries in digital change. As the world becomes more digital, our competitors become more global. Irish media companies need to start experimenting quickly and following the lessons learned elsewhere. They have an opportunity to jump ahead but I’d caution them to wait just a moment before they do.

no-one seems to have a coherent strategy
It was something of a relief coming from a seemingly rudderless publishing industry, to see that pretty much all content and media firms are as clueless about the future as publishers are. They are all distracted by the shiny toys, all entranced by the lure of easy profits in apps and downloads and all besotted with copyright protection and forcing the reader or the advertiser to adapt to their advantage.

The BBC, if I read their thinking correctly, at least seemed content to let innovation find a way forward but were not pushing for that to happen any time soon, The Guardian’s vaunted digital plan is at least clear, but I’m not certain it offers much more than a hope that their gamble on openness will be rewarded. They at least have not flip-flopped from tactic to tactics in the hope of stumbling upon a strategy by accident as others have.

It seems to me that following the trend is not the way forward. So experimentation is definitely a good idea, but with clear purpose and forceful reasoning.

where was book publishing?
There was not one speaker from book publishing and looking down the list of attendees, the closest one gets to a book publisher was me, Eason who had a representative and one or two PR Agencies that have been known to handle book publicity.

On the one hand it is a shame that the book publishers did not see the need to attend and on the other it says a lot about the perception of book publishing in Ireland that the organisers felt no need to include someone to speak to that market.

While much of the day did not specifically mention or reference books, there was so much potential on display for creators of quality content and new ways of thinking about content that not attending seems to me to have been a poor choice for book publishers.

final thoughts
I enjoyed the conference enormously and came away feeling refreshed and happy that there were people thinking deeply about digital change in Ireland, surprised that so many people hadn’t read The Cluetrain Manifesto and impressed by the openness to social media at the Abbey Theatre (@abbeytheatre) as traditional an icon of Ireland as they come.


Disclosure: I was given a free ticket for the conference by Media Contact after I retweeted a promotional tweet.


Hachette Ireland Launches Website

It’s nice to see Hachette launch a proper Irish web presence. As one of the biggest Trade Publishers on the island it seemed strange to me that they didn’t have a proper site (although I know they did in the past).

If I had one problem, it’s my perennial complaint. The news & events page which looks good doesn’t supply an RSS feed and they don’t offer a mailing list sign up. That seems to me a lost opportunity to engage with their readers.

One nice feature is that the author pages can pull in title info on request. They could do with increasing the content on those pages but for now they have a good solid site.

Struggling with a head cold, not pleasant.
Eoin

Three Sites Worth Reading

This is a little off topic in many ways but also on topic.

There has been the slow emergence of professionally written blogs in Ireland, reinforcing my thinking about blogging as a tool for publishing as opposed to any kind of social change, political change or even a weapon for undermining mainstream media. It also echoes (finally) the trend in the US where both commercial mainstream news outlets and academics have take to the tools with gusto.

It’s not just that newspapers like The Irish Times and Irish Independent are making use of the tools but three group blogs written by academics are quickly establishing themselves (or have already established themselves) as must read sites.

They are:

    The Irish Economy (Economics)
    Ireland After NAMA (Geography & Social Sciences)
    &
    Pue’s Occurrences (History)

Some individuals also keep blogs, my personal favourite being Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev who calls it like it is with no pulled punches, not to everyone’s taste, but entertaining.

Working on the web,
Eoin

Taoiseach – TV3's new series

I have to say, I didn’t expect this of TV3. I missed the news that it was running and so missed the first episode on one of the most interesting men t hold the office, WT Cosgrave (whom we’ve mentioned here before).

The Independent carries a fine piece by John-Paul McCarthy about the series:

Cosgrave was in many ways an essentially theocratic politician, a deeply devout Catholic who once proposed that an ecclesiastical commission vet parliamentary legislation for theological deviance as soon as the statutes emerged from the Dail print shop.

And yet he held office under a classically liberal constitution, complete with an American-style establishment clause banning preferential treatment for a state church and an essentially British division of competences between an executive, a lower house and an upper house possessed of some interesting delaying powers. The Catholic Gulliver was thus immobilised for 15 years by these delicate constitutional chains. Cosgrave was also mild-mannered, unambitious personally and prone on occasion to diplomatic illnesses which allowed him to avoid contentious cabinet tussles between his headstrong subordinates. (He was formally ill during the Army Mutiny crisis in 1924 and sought to direct events from hospital.) And yet, circumstances forced Cosgrave to become arguably the most ruthless civilian chief executive the Irish State has ever produced.

Looking forward to catching up and watching the rest!
Eoin