December 7, 2015

Persuasion is the name of the game

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 47 comments ·
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The Other Voices festival in Dingle is a simple but brilliant microcosm of our unique selling points as a nation

This Krzysztof exuded a calm, efficient sense of authority. He radiated with the type of firm confidence given off by those who know what they are doing when in control of those who don’t. In his neatly pressed Ryanair uniform and with his swift deliberated movements, he wouldn’t have been out of place front of house in a swanky Mayfair hotel.

On Friday night, Krzysztof, the head of cabin on the Ryanair flight from Stansted to Farranfore, was the only thing that prevented total pandemonium on board. The pilot had casually suggested that there may be a bit of bumpiness on the way into Kerry, but nothing prepared us for the experience of flying into the teeth of Storm Desmond.

After two aborted attempts at landing, the aircraft buffeted around like a paper plane, and the pilot decided to head for the relative safety of Cork Airport. Us passengers were petrified, but the crew was outstanding: quiet, unflinching and gentle in the face of some very nervous and nauseous passengers. The officious Krzysztof stood out, marshalling his troops, remaining serene as the plane jumped about the sky, regularly talking to the captain and keeping everyone up to date with reassuring words. Ryanair is lucky to have people of that calibre.

This experience, on my way to the very special Other Voices festival in Dingle, got me thinking about the fact that people matter; and in small countries like Ireland, people matter more.

By this, I mean that those who keep their head when everyone around is losing it, those who go for it when everyone else is skeptical, and those who through their own persistence see that the job gets done, are immeasurably valuable to either a company and even a country.

One of these types of people is Philip King, the man behind Other Voices. As I chatted to some quite traumatised English hipster musicians when we finally reached terra firma in Cork, I thought of King’s achievement in getting all these people to come to Dingle in the only red weather alert Ireland has ever experienced. These guys relished the opportunity to play here, to tiny crowds in one of the remotest places in Ireland – and they say it is the best gig of the year. It takes something special to create that chemistry. King has done it year after year, bringing hugely important cash into the local economy at a time when, as the local taxi driver John Joe confided: “You’d be watching the pennies.”

The arts and arts festivals are a huge business in Ireland. In many ways, Ireland is defined by the arts. When we think of the country, let’s say in comparison to Germany, what defines us? For Germany, it is clear. The defining characteristics of that country and that people are precision, engineering, regimentation and process. Despite it being the homeland of some of Europe’s most important philosophers and musicians, you don’t think Schiller, Goethe or Beethoven when you think of Germany. We all know that these stereotypes are a bit unfair, but they are what they are.

In contrast, the defining characteristics of Ireland are still largely sourced in the arts, in music, literature, the stage and the story. This is what makes us good at festivals. This is what makes us brilliant hosts, and what makes the festival business a sustainable one for the country.

I was standing just inside the door of Foxy Johns last night in Dingle, the storm howling away outside, and here we were huddled cozily inside, watching English band The Academic on live screens straight from St James’s Church. This simply doesn’t happen in other countries. It is unique to us, and it is real.

When something is real, it doesn’t seem forced, and this authenticity is impossible to fabricate. So when you come to a festival like this, something that has grown organically over more than a decade, you feel like part of something special. And this is where the economics comes in.

Far too often, economics is discussed in terms of numbers and balance sheets in the hard unforgiving language of the ledger or the financial statement. And while all of these are essential – at a monetary level – what actually makes the economy tick is authenticity. What King and his team in Dingle have done is to create an experience which people value so much that they travel in significant numbers to west Kerry in the hail. These experiences are enormously valuable to the punters who turn up and they are enormously valuable to the local businesses.

So economics, particularly modern economics, in a fairly wealthy country off the coast of Europe, is about persuasion. Not branding; persuasion. People don’t really start businesses, they start crusades and then others respond because they understand that this is special. Festivals are like this. All arts festivals begin because dogged people want to showcase great art. But if the festival loses money very quickly, it will run aground, so they all must make commercial sense so costs are covered and the people involved can put bread on the table.

The first few years of this will be tortuous because starting something new is always difficult if not impossible. Bringing world-class musicians to Dingle in December, on paper at least, shouldn’t have worked. But it does. And it does because people matter, and the people who dream up these hare-brained schemes matter. The people who are ridiculed by “know-alls” who sneer at their efforts, are the people who make the world tick.

When I look at what Ireland can offer the world as a sustainable business that is authentic and deeply rooted, it seems to me that the economics of the arts is an obvious candidate. Ireland has a right to involve itself in this area. As people become more comfortable, they value experiences much more than possessions; and arts and music festivals are these experiences.

However, the essential alchemy is the one or two individuals, their efforts, their professionalism and their commitment. These exceptional individuals can come in various guises. I saw one on Friday night commandeer a packed plane and exude calm in difficult circumstances. I saw another one, Philip King, just now, on the main street of Dingle in the deluge, sticking his head into a bar, just to make sure one small detail was attended to. That’s what makes the difference.


  1. aidanxc

    Very true David, good article.

    Now we just need to fix the insurance industry so that many town festivals, which were cancelled over the years due to insurance costs, can be resurrected…

  2. BurrenRocks

    “This experience, on my way to the very special Other Voices festival in Dingle, got me thinking about the fact that people matter; and in small countries like Ireland, people matter more.” -Yep, true for those in rural communities

    Here is a reminder of our wonderful scenery (Blessington Lakes) and music (Colm Mac An Iomaire) … worth a time out from the recent weather!

    https://youtu.be/9xQtGOQgChk

  3. David Gibbons

    The Academic are from Mullingar, not England

  4. michaelcoughlan

    “This experience, on my way to the very special Other Voices festival in Dingle, got me thinking about the fact that people matter; and in small countries like Ireland, people matter more.”

    The most certainly do. Eastern europeans matter in Ireland and Irish peole matter abroad;

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/brain-drain-threatens-to-stall-recovery-283724.html

    Michael.

  5. McCawber

    One of the attractions of having Art festivals or any other kind of festival in the wilder parts of Ireland is the undoubted attraction of the areas themselves.
    There is an appeal about the “West” that is almost spiritual(in the non godly, getting in touch with nature sense) . The stress relief impact of a visit to the “West” is one of life’s great experiences.
    As to being a nation of “Arts and Scholars” (time to drop the saints bit I think), Ireland is also noted for it’s Scientific excellence.
    Boyle and Hamilton are two that come to mind and we should not let them be over shadowed by a majority who understand little about what makes it all happen. The portable microphones no doubt being used in Dingle are a result of the minds and achievements of a relatively small band of truly great performers whose imagination and creativity would match and beat any arty performances in Dingle.

    And just when you thought you’d got away from it all, down in Dingle!
    Meanwhile the price of gold has moved up slightly and the Chinese have been selling some of their Dollars. Who’s buying them one wonders.
    The Chinese, reportedly, sold a few $bn worth of their Gold reserves also. What’s that all about would anyone care to speculate?

  6. Moon Walker

    Had your plane been landing at the time of a full moon in that dangerous storm there is no doubt that it would have been fatal . It was a waning moon that you experienced , a point of its almost weakest moment and that saved you .

  7. DB4545

    Good article David. Art in all its forms infects our mind in a positive way and is a hidden persuader like few others as Vance Packard outlined in his book. It’s not an accident that people take the time and trouble to visit places and people with whom they feel an emotional connection however tenuous.

    Music may be derivative but it’s absolutely evocative and it shortcircuits and bypasses all attempts at censorship. I don’t think the mind that creates a BMW or Google or Stripe is any less or more creative than Clannad or Sigur Ros.

    We have a long tradition in specific arts.If we can use those traditions to advance our society let’s do so. We have a Country that’s well placed geographically and socially to showcase music fashion sports and business events in need of a home. The ability of a society to harness the creativity of people matters absolutely.

  8. Only reading this now, Kilkenomics is a very important part of what you are writing about David, after 6 great years – although I am not privy to your balance sheet so I hope it’s sustainable for a good few more years at least.

    I’m not a great fan of music myself so it’s very appealing to me to have something different, non-music based, while still very cultural (in Kilkenny – a lovely city) although having said that we had a great sing song with Liam Halligan last year well into the early hours.

  9. Pat Flannery

    I am a fan of Philip King because he draws his inspiration from the same well as John O’Donovan and Eugene O’Curry did in the 19th century. They discovered a goldmine of culture buried in the ancient Irish language. Philip King is attempting to counter the same anglicization of Ireland occurring in the 21st century that O’Donovan and O’Curry attempted to counter in the 19th century.

    It is ironic that Season 14 of Mr. King’s “Other Voices” will be broadcast on RTE2 in the spring of 2016 but like so many other RTE shows will probably have a “not be available in your area” on RTE Player if you are outside Ireland. What is the point of having a National Broadcaster if it holds back content from its own citizens living abroad?

    The fact is that some of the RTE programs I have most wanted to see over the years on RTE Player had a “not be available in your area” message, in my case in California. Will “Other Voices” be another casualty? Who makes these decisions? What are the criteria? Commercial? Cultural? What?

    Perhaps you might ask your friends at RTE to explain their economic theories behind their RTE Player restrictions David.

    • DB4545

      Adam & Pat

      I don’t know a great deal about music either Adam I just like the sounds it makes and it sometimes provides the thread that weaves through so many other parts of our and other cultures. In relation to anglicization Pat what’s at issue here? English is a fact and a huge part of our culture. It doesn’t need to be “countered” it’s a very valuable card in our deck. You may have noticed that we’re holding this discussion through the medium of that very language. Our history and geography has meant our cards have been dealt and played in a certain way. We can’t play them backwards we can only play the hand we’re dealt.

      • Pat Flannery

        DB4545: the issue with anglicization is that it erodes Irish national identity. The fact that an Irish identity, separate from a British identity, no longer seems to matter to you and others posting on here is regrettable and Ireland will be the poorer for it. National identity matters and is valuable. That is why I am a fan of Philip King and his work.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          “the issue with anglicization is that it erodes Irish national identity”

          A dhéanann sé, i ndáiríre?

          But there is something true in what you are saying… I am not sure if Poles would have existed as a nation had it not been for their endeavour to retain their language during the partition of Poland (1795-1918), when there was no Polish state as such (in any ways, their case for independence would have been much weaker).

          In Greater Poland (Wielkopolska in Polish) German was the language of school instructions since 1873. The exceptions were music and religion.
          In March 1901 the Germans imposed German as the language of religion too (the Prussians strictly speaking – the Austrians were very liberal in that respect in their occupation zone, although on the other hand they made a mess of it – Galicja was, apart from Sicily and Ireland, the region from which most immigrants came left for the US).

          650 pupils refused to accept new German textbooks, and to participate in the class activities. The Prussians arrested the children and beat them up. The Prussian administration threatened that the students will not be allowed to finish school.

          Use of Polish in schools was banned completely, and police was used to enforce attendance.

          Interestingly, the issue was documented in what has been described as the oldest Polish film, Prussian Culture, made in 1908 by Moj?esz Towbin.
          As this did not stop the strike spreading, Prussians introduced apartheid in schools – the school officials constructed a barrack where protesting children were isolated.

          But the big problem with Irish is that it dead. I mean, of course there people quite fluently speaking it (I know such people myself), but no people thinking in it (there was a lavish book with last 60 very old people for whom the Irish was the first language).

          This is corroborated by translations statistics:
          Irish does not even register in the top 50 of target languages in translation statistics (and do not be fooled by the population factor – Danish is 12th, Estonian 22nd, Welsh is 38 and even Basque is 42nd; furthermore, Gallegan, a language you probably never heard of – me neither – is 48th).

          But what is even more surprising – until 1991 there were more publications in Irish as target translation language outside Ireland than inside!!! (101/105), including in countries like the Czech Republic – 89 of them in the UK.

          But there is hope. One example is Hebrew revival – a language which was more dead than Irish, the other example is Welsh revival – again, until 1960s much less people spoke Welsh than Irish; it was so dead they had to resort to Welsh diaspora in Latin America (they retained their Welsh).

          As a curious fact, Poland was the last country on earth where Latin died as a spoken language (it was widely spoken until as late as 17 century).

          Which reminds when Pope Paul VI met with the archbishop of Koln, who conversed with him in fluent Latin. ‘I took my last exam in Latin 40 years ago’ – said struggling Pope, so the archbishop suggested to change into Pope’s native Italian. ‘why did not you say so?’ – said irritated Pope Paul VI…

          • Pat Flannery

            Grzegorz: “A nation without a language is a nation without a heart”, an old Welsh proverb. The Poles and the Jews understood that too. So did the British: that is why they performed open heart surgery on the Irish in the 19th century.

            During the second half of the 19th Century under British Victorian rule not only was Irish not taught in Irish schools but children were physically beaten by the British-paid teachers, often nuns and brothers, for speaking their native tongue in the schoolyards.

            My grandparents and their contemporary neighbors still alive in my youth, told me many stories of such beatings. They marveled at my freedom to speak those forbidden words. Sadly it left them unable to form Irish words, even though they knew them, for the rest of their lives. I can attest to all that firsthand of my own personal experience.

            The Victorians wanted to make Englishmen out of the whole world.

            Charles Trevellyan succeeded to a large extent in both India and Ireland. But at what human cost! Over 5 million people died of starvation in India in the 1850s because of his Anglicization policies, the same policies that caused 1 million people to die of starvation in Ireland during the 1840s.

            They can blame the potato failure for the Irish Famine but they have no answer for the much greater Indian Famine. It was as deliberate as Stalin’s forced collectivization of Russian farming.

          • DB4545

            Pat

            We could go off on a tangent with this subject. We can generalise about “British” and what they did and didn’t do. The “British” I think you’re referring to represented a small elite who were adept at being fairly brutal towards their “own” as well. The dark satanic mills in the north of England didn’t exactly result in paradise on earth for the locals either. We have just the same kind of “elite” in our own society post independence as have most Countries and “Irishness” hasn’t made them into better human beings or made them any less ruthless towards their fellow Citizens. We can hold grudges forever or learn to play the game better and I think the latter method is more productive.

          • coldblow

            ‘An ndéanann sé, i ndáiríre?’

            Déanann.

            In his Le Rideau Kundera mentions in passing that they could have easily ended up speaking another language in Czechoslovakia, things were so bad at the time with their own language.

            I am sure there is still quite a large number of people who speak it as their first language, admittedly all of them getting on in years. As for those who can’t speak English well, that’s another matter.

            I wouldn’t bother with the translation statistics. I think a lot of Irish books were translated in that Translator Exchange programme or whatever it was called. A friend of mine did some casual work there and passed on to me the Greek translation of Deoraíocht (I think. I get it mixed up with Dialann Deoraí and Deoraithe, both by Dónall MacAmhlaidh, a Kilkenny man who learnt his Irish on the building sites of England.) and Marian Keyes’s Watermelon. In return there are probably some Gaelic translations of obscure Transylvanian poetry.

            I don’t know where you got your info. about Welsh. It’s just been a steady decline, but if you use statistics in a creative way (the IPCC are surely heading the field here with their ‘computer models’ on AGW, which means global warming to you and me – Dia ár réiteach!) you can have it do anything you want it to do. I remember stopping off in Bangor as a 12 year old on our way to Holyhead for the holiday ‘home’ and three old women wearing (as I remember) black shawls stopped breifly paused in their babbled, incomprehensible gossip to eye us suspciously. I’d love to see that again. I heard an old lady from Patagonia the other day on Radio Cymraeg and her Welsh was very good. You could just make out the tiniest hint of a Spanish accent. She was born in what sounded like Trefelyn in the Andes and said that her uncle was (as a boy) killed and eaten by a ‘llew’, which she clarified as meaning a puma. Returning from holiday years later with friends we stopped for a pint in Bethesday one Sunday lunchtime and the pub was showing pornographic films (‘Don’t tell our wives’) but all the men were speaking in Welsh only, except the swearing was all in English. Focking ‘e-ell!

            What’s that Polish film I once saw part of many years ago about a man on the make? I think he’s a minor Party official or something. At one stage you see him putting on gramophone records for learning English.

            How’s your own Latin? You can get Latin translations of the first two Harry Potter books in the language and you wouldn’t need to be Erasmus to read them.

            When I was in Luxemburg on a Lesser Used Languages jaunt (it was really a paid holiday from work for five days) I was told about a famous meeting (but not that famous that I can find it anywhere on the net) between the PM of Lux., the Pres. of the Euro. Commission and some other geezer, a well-known German perhaps, who all spoke in Letzebuergesch, which is really incomprehensible to the average German.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Coldblow,

            Pondering over things less abstruse on a day like this, with yet another umbrella of mine left in the bin (it’s amazing no one has invented an umbrella for the Irish winter – they are either golf-size and hence totally impractical, or bag-size and one-off, does not matter if it’s Brown Thomas or a €2 shop; the first company who makes an umbrella for Storm Desmond will be a bigger hit in Ireland than Charlie among local TV and radio news announcers ;-), I am missing continental snowy landscapes in winter (as an element of my memory rather than current reality) with their stillness and dryness, and feet, trousers and glasses not getting wet (though certainly not Eastern European desert-like heatwaves in a summer).

            And there is more of that weather to come (so sorry to hear about that Ivan Vaughan singer who died trapped in his car on a flooded road – why does it never happen to drug dealers) – is fearr sneachta ná síorbháisteach.

            “easily ended up speaking another language in Czechoslovakia, things were so bad at the time with their own language.”

            So true – and funny enough, it was German Josef Jungmann (who btw was the sixth child (out of ten) of a cobbler. which belies the stereotype that there was no circulation of elites back then), who was largely responsible for the Czech language revival, publishing the five-volume Czech-German dictionary in 1834–1839.

            As Mr. James Naughton writes in his “Czech Literature, 1774 to 1918″, he created lots of neologisms and borrowed words from, among others, old-fashioned Polish (in fact the Silesian dialect of Polish – one of the few remaining as the commies wanted to do away with all regional differences – is a mixture of Polish, old Polish, Czech and German).

            I wonder if that’s the reason that in general Czechs understand my language, but it does not quite go the other way round (it’s a bit like German and Dutch), and Czech language is a source of never ending comedy for the Poles (most notable example is that szukac – “to search” in Polish means “to fuck” in Czech – sukat, pronounced the same as Polish szukac; equally funny is that Czech divadlo, which means theatre, would mean something like a “whorehouse” in Polish).

            Modern nationalism is an offspring of two German philosophers – Herder and Fichte, whose ideas percolated to writers in countries where there had been distinctively different ethnic groups within the empire, but they had no national states (notably the Poles, the Irish and the Italians).

            Modern nationalism could thus be contrasted to old nationalism inasmuch old nationalism of Bodin and Hobbes was based on the idea of a souvereign monarch and his national state, while modern nationalism was based on stateless ethnic groups.

            The principle of self-determination developed in 19th century thanks to philosophers like Fichte is a blessing and a curse at the same time (independent Ireland and Poland on the one hand, Kosovo, Crimea – which, lest we forget, was neither Russian nor Ukrainian but Tatar: after all the principle of self-determination is only used when there is some military and/or intelligence might behind it – and Donetsk on the other hand, not to mention Israel, about whose right of self-determination a Polish Jew, Antoni Slonimski, wrote that “its rights to Palestinian territories are somewhat operetta-like”.

            “a Kilkenny man who learnt his Irish on the building sites of England.”

            Even better story regarding learning Irish is this:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqYtG9BNhfM

            “I wouldn’t bother with the translation statistics.” – there is a very reliable (though not quickly enough updated) website called Index Translationum.

            “I don’t know where you got your info. about Welsh”

            Well, I cannot direct you to any source at the moment, but Wales was the country I had lived before I came to Ireland and I red some articles about their program to revive Welsh by importing the Welsh descendants from – yes, Patagonia it was, you reminded me.
            I remember reading that at some stage less than 1pc of Welsh could speak a n y Welsh, far less than ever in Ireland.

            Where I lived (which was just where they have their SAS base in Beacon Mountains) no Welsh was spoken, but they once brought me to a place where the situation was more like Aran islands in Ireland. Btw, my then girlfriend (with, I reckon, Scottish rather Welsh sounding surname McDermott) was in the Welsh national rugby team – I was in touch with her years after I had left Wales – actually I still have her e-mail and I am thinking out loud why not writing Merry Christmas to her. She did not speak any Welsh, by the way.

            “What’s that Polish film I once saw part of many years ago about a man on the make? I think he’s a minor Party official or something. At one stage you see him putting on gramophone records for learning English.”

            I think the film was called “Mis” (Teddy Bear). It’s a Polish classic comedy, but only Poles born in the communist era get its humour.

            A Polish film I really, really recommend is a movie set in post WWII Poland (before 1956 Gomulka’s thaw), about the brainwashing under Boleslaw Bierut’s communist regime (here with the English subtitles – though watching any film with English subtitles is a pain for me because I know I would do it so much better):

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0f58zJwWWo&index=9&list=PL2gv9m758aYIO_93z_7IphRvYQbdzZGa2

            “How’s your own Latin?”

            It’s cat.
            I never had fluent spoken Latin, even though I learned all grammar in one year – because learning Latin and Greek was never about actually speaking it, but rather reading it (apparently teaching Irish used to be like that too).

            Sad thing is that if you are not immersed in a language, you will lose it – hence my spoken German is very rusty, even though I can still watch a German movie like a Polish movie.

            But on the other hand, as the Irish blessing goes, “May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten”, my editor has once asked me, for his private purposes, to translate this sentence into Latin “Thus did my two wills, one old and the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contend within me; and by their discord they unstrung my soul”, and after an evening with my old Latin grammar books I came up with this :-)

            “ita duae voluntates meae, una vetus, alia nova, illa carnalis, illa spiritalis, confilgebant inter se, atque discordando dissipabant animam meam.”

            As to Pat, “They can blame the potato failure for the Irish Famine but they have no answer for the much greater Indian Famine.”

            A separate story is the Indian indigenous textile industry which the Brits felt threatened by and allegedly they were cutting the fingers of Indian textile workers – but I haven’t researched that, maybe it is a urban myth…

          • coldblow

            Grzegorz

            Yes, I heard a woman on Radio Cymraeg recently who had come back from Patagonia. I’m certain though the language has been declining (like all the Celtic, and lesser languages) especially over the last decade or two. My favourite book is by an Ifan Gruffudd, who worked as a farm labourer before volunteering for WW1. In the training camp he walked around for several days quite aimlessly until he met another Welsh speaker, who told him that they had been calling out his name all the time. McDermott is an Irish name: the McDermotts, Princes of Coolavin (near Monasteraden in S. Sligo). My mother’s grandfather came from the area and local knowledge had it that the Corcorans came up with O’Sullivan Beara, joining him in Tip. or Offaly.

            As for the weather I saw her house, in Athlone, on last night’s news, which my wife forced me to watch. It all happened before, 6 years ago where the house escaped by a thread.

            I thought that my school French would rust away when I stopped learning it at 16 but five years later on a holiday in France I had to use it. Even though I couldn’t at first remember even ‘beaucoup’, it all came back, or 99%.

            As for Latin, I never even attempted to speak it and I would scarcely attempt even your bit of translation (I’d use contendere instead of the verb you used, by the way). I wouldn’t mind a Latin mass though because the Vulgate is usually pretty simple to follow.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Coldblow,

            http://www.latinmassireland.com/mass-listings/

            I haven’t tried it though (I am not much of a Church goer, but I think it’s a valuable part of our heritage, the more traditional the better).

        • Pat Flannery

          Good plan DB4545, kinda reminds me of my private pilot days in the Southwest where we had this emergency procedure in the case of engine failure at night over rough terrain: go to best angle of glide; when you get near the ground switch on your landing lights; if you don’t like what you see switch them off again.

          “Learning to play the game better” is switching off the lights when you don’t like what you see.

        • coldblow

          Is léir don dall é an dochar atá déanta ag an mBéarla dúinn mar phobal. Ach is geall le bheith a snámh in aghaidh an easa a bheith ag iarraidh é sin a chur in iúl do na hamadáin seo. Níl idir an dá chluais ag cuide díobh ach aer agus gaoth, go bfóire Dia orainn. Tá níos mó ciall ag day-old chick ná ag leath na bpleotaí a thaganns san áit seo.

          To all: I was just telling Pat that we should retain our fair tongue and that, when you pause to consider the issue (which you will do as intelligent and educated men) you will surely agree that this is a sensible course of action.

  10. DB4545

    Pat

    Identities don’t erode they evolve in response to events just as a child evolves from infant to toddler to teenager adult. We’ve evolved in a particular way because of history and geography and cultural (religion,commerce etc.) events. If the Vikings had remained in Ireland we might be conducting this discussion in old Norse. If the Reformation had taken root here a vernacular bible (rather than latin) may have protected and strengthened the Gaelic language as it did with Welsh and Icelandic.

    We are where we are Pat and I don’t feel I’m any less Irish for it. We have strong regional identities and a particular Irish identity that hasn’t eroded despite waves of cultural influence over centuries. The English language has allowed us to export and transmit aspects of that identity to the four corners of the earth and I think we’re richer and not poorer for that process.

    But don’t take my word for it listen to the cadence and phrasing and lyrical qualities of a south Boston accent or an ocker Aussie accent or a Newfoundlander or a Scouser. That’s not erosion that’s evolution.

    • Well put, things always change – it’s pissing against the wind trying to stop it.

      In 500 years we could all be speaking Martian.

        • coldblow

          Embrace Change!

          That’s what I always say should be written on the front of the steamroller bearing down on you.

          As you get up and dust yourself off you look what’s written on the back:

          Get Over It!

          And what kind of ‘embracing’ are we talking about here? Does it include lewd acts or is it just ag pógadh thóin an duine eile?

      • coldblow

        I’m back!

        ‘It’s pissing against the wind wind trying to stop [change]‘

        I suppose it usually is, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try.

        Is this like the argument I heard a thousand times in my youth, that if you taxed rich people they’d just leave the country and then where would we be?

        • Pat Flannery

          codblow: you have a surprising and obviously deep understanding of the relevance and value of vernacular languages. Imagine all the human knowledge we would have missed if the Romans had succeeded in what the English-speaking world is now striving to achieve – a one-language world.

          The Irish language was the first European vernacular to be written down alongside the two “classical” languages, Latin and Greek. It happened because the Irish monk-scribes could not resist adding their own commentary in the margins of the written Latin pages.

          They were careful to use a different colored ink, green, to identify their additions, corrections and references. “Glas” was the Irish word for green. Hence “glassories” later evolved into “glossaries”. They have migrated from the page’s margin in manuscripts to the end pages in the printed book.

          The point here is that the Irish language was the linguistic shoulders upon which the Roman language, Latin, stood to preserve the Roman civilization after the fall of Rome. Irish should be treated with more respect. It was the native language of the scribes who wrote down the Roman Christianity that is practiced today.

  11. Pat Flannery

    Adam & DB4545: that’s very interesting. So you think that losing the Irish language is akin to growing up? You have no sense of loss whatsoever? You believe that Anglicization is just “change”?

    Tell that to the Jews. Or any other self-aware people, like the English who have steadfastly retained their national identity and are now striving mightily to defend it against a cultural onslaught from the EU. The English do not have to “change” but the Irish do, in order to “grow up”? You have changed, changed utterly, a terrible ugliness is born.

  12. And I never said losing the Irish language is akin to growing up, in fact I never mentioned it at all until you did Pat – why would I? It has no bearing on my life and is rarely in my thoughts. I just said change is good, that’s all.

    • Pat Flannery

      What I said was that John O’Donovan and Eugene O’Curry in the 19th century discovered a goldmine of culture buried in the ancient Irish language with which they wished to counter the growing Anglicization of the period. That seemed to set you and DB4545 off.

      You both seem to have serious issues with the Irish language. Sorry I mentioned it.

  13. CorkPlasticPaddy

    Couldn’t agree more with you, Adam! If people want to learn to speak Irish then leave them off, it’s their choice! Irish is not my native language either. I can speak a little school book French and German and when I’ve visited France and Germany I managed to get by with what I had learned to get me out of trouble. I did try to learn Irish at one stage, but I found it difficult to learn. I’m of an age that if I had been educated in Ireland it would more than likely to have been beaten into me, so, my parents decided that I’d be educated in the UK and am now glad that I went through that process than having to go through what my wife and many others had to go through with they being educated here. I’m NOT anti-Irish! I’m of the ilk that if a person wants to learn Irish then go away and learn to speak it, but don’t force it down people’s throats as if it was something that your life really depended on!! This idea of painting out English road signage in Gaeltacht areas around Ireland is simply the pits!! Or not having any English signage whatsoever in those areas either is just simply pathetic!! Any tourist visiting this country from anywhere in the world would be totally lost and wouldn’t dream of visiting here again because of Irish language Nazism.

    We’re living in the 21st century and at this stage these so-called language Nazis would want to start growing up and getting a life!!!

    • michaelcoughlan

      This is an excellent link Adam. The article references the decline in the living standards of most everyone in the the US as far as I can see. What I find remarkable is that it also says that GDP increased every year except 2009.

      I am wondering if GDP is measured in dollars or in actual output. Maybe our host or someone with economic training could explain this.

  14. Another article worth a read – the #Banksters bring yet another country (well a kind of a ‘country’ – Jersey) to its knees – and yet, what are the odds that they’ll all escape with their huge bonuses and fat pensions?

    It doesn’t sound like Jersey will be having any arts festivals any time soon either:

    “The fall of Jersey: how a tax haven goes bust”

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/dec/08/fall-of-jersey-how-tax-haven-goes-bust

    I particularly like this line, which is quoted in the article – it’s from a Jersey-based novel:

    “We all know that foreign money has the run of this place,” one says. “But it’s quite another thing altogether to openly replace the Jersey flag with a set of splayed arse cheeks and a dollar sign.”

    • DB4545

      Adam

      Thanks for that link to what is a brilliant article and a warning of the future that may await us if we don’t cop on to ourselves and fast. The recent program on corruption should ring alarm bells as well Adam. One minister is apparently “shocked” by the revelations of corruption. I’m not shocked, I’m not even mildly surprised at the lack of finesse of the gobshites involved. Does this guy really think that people are ignorant of who his pals and associates are?

      Remember that the gobshites we witnessed on the program are on the nursery slopes of corruption. When they move up the food chain they get a little bit more sophisticated but no less corrupt. These are the people that Global players get to meet when making decisions regarding investing in this State. This becomes the impression that Corporations form regarding our national characteristics based on meeting our local political elites. Thankfully our politicians were probably regarded as too corrupt even for FIFA to run a competition here.

      If Jersey replaces its flag with a set of splayed arse cheeks and a dollar sign maybe our politicians could have a suitable flag for the Dail. Perhaps a symbol of a politician performing fellatio at a glory hole for the lowest bidder might be appropriate? Sadly the truth is often stranger than fiction in a Country that loves fiction.

  15. David says ‘persuasion’ in his caption . Sometimes on the precipice of life adversities ‘intuition’ or ‘common sense’ is a better choice . A ‘good sense ‘ is another .

    Do you follow the first word that comes into your head or is it the last word.Is there a difference?

    Are we all strapped in?

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