Archive for the ‘ireland’ Tag

Tower of Power (Day 89)

Tidied up my model chapter, With a Little Help from My Friend, added the intro and the piece between Chapters 1 and 2 and then sent it to two people for some fresh-eyed feedback. The first tentative steps into the public domain! No. 1 copy went to my Other Half and the second to a friend, Farrah, whose opinion I really respect but who I feel sufficiently safe with.

Then I went for a run back to Sandymount Strand where a Godsky was illuminating the beach.

Sandymount Strand morning sunrise Dublin Ireland

A good breakfast back at Bewley’s, a quick catch-up with an old friend of mine on his way back from an interview for production design on a horror movie, and then a great chat with TV producer Steve Lock who hails from my NW London neck of the woods but has ended up in Greystones, along the coast South of Sandymount and Dun Laoghaire (I’m always impressed with myself that I can actually spell that name). Steve helped me a few weeks back with the Tony Wilson/Music chapter, Chapter 2) by being interviewed about his time working with Tony at Granada. He kindly brought along today the Factory Christmas card for 1988 consisting of a flick-book animation from a New Order video and his FAC51 card for the Hacienda.

Factory records Christmas card 1988 and Hacienda membership card

Steve dropped me off at Sandycove Point where I went to visit the Martello Tower where Ulysses begins. First a scene on the roof of the tower, looking across the bay to Howth Head where the book ends, the story physically embracing Joyce’s native city; then the characters descend and head over the lane to the Forty Foot, a rocky outcrop just opposite the Tower from which people have been swimming in the Irish Sea of Dublin Bay all year round for some 250 years. There was an auld fella swimming just round the corner this very afternoon – January 15th, full on winter, albeit a beautiful sunlit afternoon.

The Forty Foot where Buck Mulligan swims

The Forty Foot where Buck Mulligan swims

I didn’t get any other writing done today, too busy immersing myself in a perfect yellowy afternoon, which will charge the creative batteries if nothing else. I’ll get onto the synopsis document I need to produce tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some images from the Sandycove adventure…

Martello Tower at Sandymount Dublin from Ulysses by James Joyce

The Martello Tower getting a bit of a spruce-up

The Forty Foot Dublin Bay Sandycove

The view to Howth Head

The Tower and the Forty Foot

The Tower and the Forty Foot

The Forty Foot Sandycove

The Forty Foot togs sign

Gotta love the Irish

The second best Irish thing I’ve read this week (the first was Ulysses which I finished on Sunday for the second time)

Irish Stew in the Name of the Law

I’ve just come across something I wrote for a website called Lost Generation which I commissioned here at Channel 4 in 2005 in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum/National Inventory of War Memorials. I’d just read Sebastian Barry’s novel A Long Long Way and felt inspired to dig a bit deeper into that neglected and murky area of WWI history. I’m bunging it here for my archives (i.e. so I don’t lose it again).

Lost Generation masthead

Design for one of revolving mastheads from Lost Generation (2005)

Irish Stew in the Name of the Law

20.ix.05

Ninety years on and the chickens are coming home to roost. Except they weren’t chickens. They were shell-shocked. They were mentally ill. They were country lads completely out of their depth. At the end of 2004 a report commissioned by the Irish government was handed over to its British counterpart.  In it was revealed damning evidence of the anti-Irish racism and fundamental injustice of British ‘field general courts martial’ during the First World War. These were military courts in the proximity of the front line speedily dispensing exemplary ‘justice’ including death sentences.

The report contains a close examination of the cases of 26 Irish soldiers executed by firing squad. It asserts that, based on the evidence in the surviving files (the team had access to all but one), all the cases could have been successfully appealed had a normal set of legal standards been applied, including the need for sufficient proof and the proper consideration of medical evidence. The courts martial files were kept secret for 75 years by the British authorities, only being released in 1990.

If you were Irish, whether Protestant or Catholic, Ulsterman or Dubliner, whether fighting out of loyalty to the Union or for the promise of Home Rule, you were five times more likely to be shot by firing squad. In the rest of the British army one in every 3,000 troops was sentenced to execution in this way. Among the Irish soldiers the figure is one in less than 600.

Making an Example

The report makes a revealing comparison between the Irish and the New Zealand regiments, which were known for their harsh discipline. The recruitment figures for both countries were similar and yet there were ten times as many death sentences in the Irish regiments.

The indications of the 26 cases of execution – 23 for desertion, one for disobedience, one for quitting his post and one for striking an officer -  are that death sentences were imposed as a form of exemplary discipline. The report describes the behaviour towards the Irish involved in these cases as “capricious”, “inconsistent” and “shocking”. It also condemns subsequent attempts by the British Ministry of Defence to justify this military justice in the field as “fundamentally flawed”.

In eleven of the cases the death sentence was clearly linked to bad discipline in the units and a perceived need to set an example. The report concludes:  “Soldiers were effectively condemned to be shot because of both the behaviour of others and the opinion of others as to their fighting potential. …  Executing a soldier simply to deter their colleagues from contemplating a similar crime, or because their attitude in the face of the gravest of dangers was not what was expected – in some cases after only a matter of weeks of basic training – must be seen as unjust, and not deserving of the ultimate penalty.”

Not the whole truth

Of the 26 cases, the legal papers showed that presiding officers failed to consider medical evidence in almost half of them. Four cases involved significant extenuating circumstances. The report says: “In a number of cases there is clear evidence of ignoring medical conditions and personal circumstances that may have accounted for the actions of the accused and could have been interpreted as mitigating factors.”

Private Joseph Carey from Dublin served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers (who fought at the Somme) until his execution in September 1916. He was charged with desertion after going missing for a day. Clemency was recommended on the grounds of defective intelligence. It was drawn to the attention of the court that he had mental health issues in the wake of his father’s and brother’s suicides. The report singles this out as “a particularly shocking case” as Private Carey had been on the receiving end of an extremely heavy bombardment which added shellshock to his burden of mental illness. The clemency recommendation was ignored and he was shot evidently as a disciplinary example.

Private George Hanna served in the same regiment as Carey but hailed from Belfast. He was executed in November 1917. At his court martial for desertion it came to light he had not been home on leave for three years. During that time he had lost three brothers in the war. He was trying to get back to Belfast after having received news of his sister’s illness. The report concludes grimly that there was nothing to indicate that the military authorities “thought twice about taking a fourth son from the family”.

The report also highlighted a distinct class bias which it sees as “incompatible with an impartial system of justice”.

The Fighting Irish

The upshot of the report is a call for full pardons for the men to “grant them the dignity in death they were denied in life”. There is no demand for compensation payment attached to this call.

“We continue to press the British government to restore the good names of these men,” said Dermot Ahern, the Irish Foreign Minister. “Nothing less will do the Irish government and their families.” He summed up the report as “very tragic reading” and confirmed “no-one could not be moved by the simple stories of brave, often poorly educated young men who were shot after perfunctory courts martial. The Irish government believes this was wrong. These Irish people died needlessly.”

There is now a campaign for the pardons co-ordinated by Peter Mulvany – the Shot at Dawn Campaign. It was launched in 2002 in Dublin and has support from various TDs (Teachta Dála – members of the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann), MPs and politicians across the spectrum from Rev. Ian Paisley to John Hume, as well as church leaders both Catholic and Protestant. You can find out more about the campaign here <link to Shot at Dawn Campaign http://www.irishseamensrelativesassociation.org/SADIRL.htm  >

The tragic experiences of Irish soldiers in the British army during the First World War have been brought to the attention of the British public recently by the short-listing of Sebastian Barry’s moving novel ‘A Long Long Way’ for the 2005 Man Booker Prize. It tells the story of a Dubliner who volunteers but finds himself, as the war goes on, in an increasingly incomprehensible position, ultimately belonging nowhere. At one point, just weeks before the Somme, he finds himself in his British uniform firing on his fellow Dubliners as the Easter Rising erupts and the Republic of Ireland is born.

Design for World of Mud from Lost Generation (2005)

Get Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way  <link>

Further Reading

Ireland’s Unknown Soldiers – Terence Denman (Irish Academic Press, 1992)

A Lonely Grave – Terence Denman (Irish Academic Press, 1995)

Irish Men or English Soldiers – Thomas Dooley (Liverpool University Press, 1995)

Irish Voices from the Great War – Miles Dungan (Irish Academic Press, 1995)

They Shall Grow Not Old – Miles Dungan (Four Courts Press, 1997)

Far from the Short Grass – James Durney (publisher James Durney, 1999)

Ireland and the Great War – ed. Adrian Gregory & Senia Paseta (Manchester University Press, 2002)

Dividing Ireland – Thomas Hennessey (Routledge, 1998)

Ireland and the Great War – Keith Jeffrey (Cambridge, 2000)

Orange, Green and Khaki – Tom Johnstone(Gill & Macmillan, 1992)

Best of 2009

[this is a work in progress]

film still

Burn, baby, burn - it fired me up

Film:
1. Inglourious Basterds – because it reignited my excitement with cinema

2. The Hangover – because it afforded me a fine evening of laughter with the Enfants Terribles
3. A Serious Man – for the uncompromising ending and beautiful cinematography by my former boss Roger Deakins
4. Moon – for being intriguing and thought-provoking
5. District 9 – for realising an inventive concept well
6. An Education – for a supercharismatic central performance
7. Nowhere Boy – for fine performances all round

Actor:
1. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) – couldn’t take my eyes off him

2. Sam Rockwell (Moon)
3. Christian McKay (Me & Orson Welles) – not an easy persona to capture
4. Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy)
5. Andy Serkis (Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’Roll)
6. Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man)
7. Adam Sandler (Funny People) – got papped behind him leaving BAFTA (that’s no way to live)
8. John Travolta (The Taking of Pelham 123)

Actress:
1. Carey Mulligan (An Education) – old school screen charisma

2. Anne-Marie Duff (Nowhere Boy) – did a great, feisty Q&A for us at The Phoenix, East Finchley
3. Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey)
4. Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank)

Supporting Actor:
1. Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) – captured the humour whilst retaining the character’s intrigue

2. Alfred Molina (An Education) – also a close second, helped pull off the ending with a pivotal moving scene
3. Ed Helms (The Hangover)
4. Thomas Sangster (Nowhere Boy) – striking screen presence
5. Peter Capaldi (In the Loop)
6. Fred Melamed (A Serious Man)

Supporting Actress:
1. Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy)

2. Claire Danes (Me & Orson Welles)
3. Rosamund Pike (An Education)

Director:
1. Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) – gets it on the strength of the opening scene alone

2. The Coen Brothers (A Serious Man)
3. Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
4. Todd Phillips (The Hangover)
5. Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
6. Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
7. Duncan Jones (Moon)

Script:
1. The Hangover

2. A Serious Man
3. District 9
4. Up in the Air
5. Moon

TV:
Gavin & Stacey

Gig:
1. Hothouse Flowers – Community hall, Baltimore, West Cork

2.
Bat for Lashes – The Roundhouse
Christy Moore – Festival Hall
Lisa Hannigan – Festival Hall

3.
Blur – Hyde Park (The Enfants Terribles’ first gig)
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Empire Shepherd’s Bush
David Gray – The Roundhouse

LP:
Sea Sew – Lisa Hannigan

The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Single:
1. Glass – Bat for Lashes

2. Say Hey – Michael Franti & Spearhead

Book:
The Great Lover – Jill Dawson

Art:
Dream – Jaume Plensa

Anish Kapoor – Royal Academy

Play:
August: Osage County (NT)
Prick Up Your Ears (The Comedy)

Sports event:
1. Ireland winning the 6 Nations

2. Spurs 9-1 victory over Wigan

Website:
Posterous

Saddest loss:
John Martyn

Songlines #3 – She Moved Through the Fair

What song means the most to you and why?

Una chose She Moved Through The Fair
HEAR HER EXPLANATION HERE: She Moved MP3

My young love said to me my mother won’t mind,
And my daughters won’t slight you for your lack of kine,
He went away from me and this he did say,
‘It will not be long love til our wedding day.’

He went away from me and he moved through the fair,
And slowly I watched him move here and move there,
He went his way homeward with one star awake,
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

The people were saying no two were e’er wed
But one has a sorrow that never was said,
And I smiled as she passed with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

I dreamed last night that my young love came in,
He came in so sweetly, his feet made no din;
He came close beside me, and this he did say,
‘It will not be long love, till our wedding day.’

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