On March 3rd, 2018 there will be an evening of talks and discussions at Litteraturhuset, Oslo as several contemporary Irish writers gather to discuss everything from the future of the novel to the rise of the alt-right online.
For more details check out the link on the Litteraturhuset website HERE!
There’s still a good three weeks left in the year I know, but I’ve decided to put up my list of my books for the year and one or two other things that I enjoyed in 2017. As with previous years, not everything I read this year came out this year. Any way, for what its’s worth here’s my choices for good books and other things from the past twelve months (in no particular order):
A brilliant interactive engagement with Waterford and Ireland’s Viking history in the heart of Waterford’s Viking Triangle. Did it earlier this year with my family and we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to take part in Paddy’s Fringe, a new festival in Oslo that celebrates Irish culture with a difference. I gave a talk on the first encounters between Ireland and Norway in world cup qualifiers in 1937. Below is an edited video of the talk:
Recently I set about exploring people of Norwegian origin on the 1901 and 1911 census. As you can probably imagine, when the census was taken, the vast majority of Norwegians who showed up on the census were not actually resident in Ireland at all, but crew members of boats and ships docked in Ireland on the night the census was taken.
These included people like 16 year old Lars Larsen, one of three apprentice sailors of that age, docked in Belfast.
In total, there were 296 Norwegian men in Ireland in 1901 when the census was taken. Most of them based in Belfast, Larne and Dublin. Not all were sailors however. Some were most likely the sons of sailors. Take John Wellington, born in Norway, according to the census but living on Strand Street in Malahide and working as a boat builder. He is listed along with his wife, Margaret, from Co Dublin and a nephew, Christopher Farrell.
Or consider Olaf Haaland, married to Margretta J Haaland, daughter of John Giffard of Rathmines, a man who lists his occupation as “Dividends”. A large family, who appear from their internationalism (another daughter is married to a London man) and their address, to have been fairly well-heeled. Olaf was not the only Haaland then living in Dublin. Sixty-five year old Lars Olsen Haaland, a Scandinavian interpreter, lived on Lower Leeson Street with his two daughters, Bertha and Marie. Bertha was a shopkeeper at a chandlery, and Marie worked as a book keeper at the Singer sewing machine shop.
Another unusual family was the Stromsoe family in Queenstown, now Cobh, Co. Cork. Fredrick was a naval store labourer married to Cork-born Mary Ann with whom he had five children. The Stromsoe family werent alone in settling in Ireland in these years. In 1911, we find the Gulbransen family in Belfast. There is Ahavoh Gulbransen and his wife Elizabeth, both Belfast natives. Ahavoh’s father Paul Fredrick, 78, and born in Norway lives with them. Son, like father, lists himself as a watchmaker.
At the house of eighty year-old Agnes Warden in Sneem, Co. Kerry there were among her large retinue of servants (14 in total), four Norwegian men: Andreas Williamson, 43, a sailor and carpenter; Ernst Christiansen, 30, also a sailor by occupation; Conrad Christiansen, 25 and presumably Ernst’s brother who was a carpenter and Peder Johannesen, 37, and also a carpenter.
While there were in both years more men on the censuses from Norway thanks to sailors on board ships, the women who lived in Ireland from Norway were by and large young, presumably unmarried women who worked in domestic service of one kind or another. We’ve already seen the daughters of Lars Olsen Haaland, but therec was also girls like Anna Ganda Berger send, a 22 year old from Stange, Norway who worked as a cook for the Couser family in Armagh.
Or the Ganserod sisters who worked in a house on University street in Belfast. They worked for Anna Hunter, a 52 year old school principal. The sisters, Anna and Elisabeth, were 23 and 19 years old respectively. Anna, the elder of the two, had duties including being cook while Elisa was listed as a house maid.
The Wellwood family of Pottinger Co. Down had Sigrid Christiansen, 23, working as a nurse and domestic servant for them.
However, it wasn’t just young Norwegian girls employed as domestics by irish families, as the case of Nicoline Engelsen Lund illustrates. Lund, 50 at the time of the 1901 census, was one of four servants working in a house in Whitechurch, Kilkenny. The head of the house was Mabel Bryant, a 30 year old with a newborn son.
As ever, such discoveris raise as many questions as they seem to provide Anderson. Through what networks were these young women in their twenties finding work in Ireland as domestic servants being key among them? Is it sheer coincidence?
And what to make of the various Norwegian and part Norwegian dailies this cursory research brings to light? So small and scattered were they that they could scarcely be said to form a coherent group in Ireland at the time. And yet, one must wonder to what extent they maintained links with Norway as a country as it, a few years before Ireland, became independent?
Perhaps the only thing that can be said for certain at present about these apparently anamolous Norwegian enclaves is this: between the sailors, servants and strangers to Ireland it is clear that there was some networks between the countries which are now perhaps lost to us. It is a reminder, healthy and not a little timely, to recall that Irish life is as much a part of the world of the North Sea as it is a product of the Atlantic world. Indeed much the same point is made by Daryl Leeworthy in his work on Cardiff’s Norwegian Sailor’s Church. It is a reminder to us that Ireland’s historical interactions with the outside world see us not confined to our antagonisms with Britain or our emigration to the USA.
There are other stories we can tell about early twentieth century Ireland that frame us differently. An Ireland where Norwegian girls came to work as domestic servants, where interpreters lived and brought up their families, where our docksides were enlivened with the conversation and camaraderie of Norwegian and Swedish sailors.
As you walk down Colbeck Street in Waterford, with The Mall to your left and Parnell Street to your right you may notice the waterford city arms crest on the corner building. This comes from a hotel which was previously on this site called the Waterford Arms Hotel.
As you can see from the photo the Waterford civic arms contain two main motifs. On a red field there are three lions representing the United Kingdom and below it on a white field, three ships – the now recognised symbol of Waterford city.
Waterford’s coat of arms, and the city’s motto urbs intacta manet watefordia were gifted to the city for its loyalty to the English monarch Henry VII who faced opposition from two pretenders to his throne in the late 16th century.
I mention this because there was some comment made on social media about the newly unveiled crest of newly rebranded Waterford FC. Much of it focused on the inclusion of the three lions into the crest.
Many saw this as being too close to the three lions coat of England’s football and cricket teams. It sparked a certain amount of knee-jerk armchair (or is it keyboard) republicanism.
Of course, the three lions derive from the same source but their inclusion into the new Waterford FC crest reveals something far more interesting than simple West Britonism.
Aside from the link with the Waterford city arms, the use of the three lions and the other elements of the new crests are one more element of the curious nostalgia rebranding of the club under its new owner, Swindon Town chairman Lee Power.
The most important of these includes the dropping of the United from the club name. The club, which until then was Waterford FC, became United in 1983 when it was reforned as a new limited company.
After a decade of poor results and dwindling public interest in the club, the choice to rebrand the club under new ownership to a name from a more successful period in the club’s history is deliberate.
There has also been a trend for some years now in England for club crests to be redesigned in one of twos ways: either hyper modern with contemporary font styles or, more prominently, hyper retro versions of the club crest with nods to storied pasts. Think of Tottenham Hotspur or Everton. The processes under way with Waterford FC are the same. There is a certain extent to which this taps into the idea of many fans, especially strong in League of Ireland circles, of being “Against Modern Football”.
In a city where the past decade has been forgettable on a sporting and civic front, with the city reeling from the effects of recession, deindustrialisation, youth unemployment and emigration, it is a smart move on the part of the club’snew owner to evoke a more prosperous and successful period for Waterford as part of the preparations for the coming season and new dispensation of Power’s ownership. The three lions on the new crests then are less a symbol of latent West Britonism, or British royalty , but speak instead to a desire to return to a time when soccer was king in Waterford.
Ulster University and the National University of Ireland Galway are pleased to announce a partnership with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) which will see the Representations of Jews in Irish Literature exhibition being brought to Waterford. Representations of Jews in Irish Literature will be launched by poet Simon Lewis, who has recently published a collection of poetry Jewtown. Lewis was the winner of the Hennessy Emerging Poetry Prize and runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2015. The exhibition will be hosted by WIT for the month of February and will feature a complimentary display of materials relating to Jewish culture and identity including an exploration of the lives of Miss Fanny Diamond and Mr Jacob Lappin, the first Jewish couple married in Waterford on 14 November, 1894.
The exhibition is the first major output of a three-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council which charts the representations of Jewish identity, culture and life in Ireland from medieval through to modern times. It examines the portrayal of Jews in the literary record alongside the contribution of Irish-Jewish writers to Irish literature and celebrates this unique hyphenated identity.
Mr Kieran Cronin, Developmental Librarian, WIT, welcomed the collaboration: “WIT is delighted to be partnering with Ulster University and the National University of Ireland Galway to bring this illuminating and pioneering exhibition to the south east of Ireland. We share the curator’s vision that the exhibition works best when accompanied by primary local artefacts which shed light on Ireland’s Jewish history, which has largely been overlooked.”
“The WIT Libraries’ research into Waterford’s Jewish history has also opened up an exciting collaboration with San Francisco-based Valerie Lapin Ganley, producer of the documentary ‘Shalom Ireland’; to narrate the fascinating story of her great-grandparents’ wedding in Waterford in 1894.” This will include artefacts relating to the couple in display cases including copies of the wedding invitation and marriage certificate amongst other documents that can be found. Having a very successful debut in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin on 30 June 2016, the travelling Representations of Jews in Irish Literature exhibition toured a number of key venues during the year including Armagh Public Library, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Coleraine Town Hall and the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Principal Investigator for the project, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President of NUI Galway, commented: “The exhibition is testament to the fact that Irish literature reveals a cultural diversity that goes far beyond narrow stereotypes, and I would encourage everyone to come here and see for themselves what such diversity has meant in Irish literature.”
Director for the Centre of Irish and Scottish Studies at Ulster University and Project Team member, Dr Frank Ferguson also said: “This is a very significant project for Irish literary studies and one which shall make a major contribution to our understanding of the history and the cultural expression of Jews in Ireland. It is marvellous to see the interest that the project has already gained since its first official launch last summer and we are very pleased to be partnering with Waterford Institute of Technology to allow the exhibition to travel to the South-East.” The launch is due to take place at Waterford Institute of Technology on Wednesday, 1 February 2017.
The exhibition and launch are free to attend but booking is required. Those seeking further details and to attend the exhibition in February and its launch on 1 February should contact Peggy McHale by email or by telephone at: +353 51 302877 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representations of Jews in Irish Literature Exhibition – Waterford Institute of Technology will run for the month of February and will be launched on Wednesday, 1 February, 2017 at 6pm.
Myself and Conor Curran are delighted to announce that on the 17th February 2017 at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast, in association with the British Society of Sports History, there will be a one day symposium to celebrate the publication of a special issue of Soccer & Society which we edited earlier this year.
The talks will take place throughout the day and the full timetable can be found here. The event is FREE but places are limited so be sure to register with eventbrite to secure your place for the day.
On the day the talks will take in a wide range of historical, economic and coaching related talks about soccer in Ireland north and south from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. The line-up is as follows:
Morning Session: The Early Years
9.55 am-10.15 am
Paul Gunning (Independent Scholar): The ‘Socker’ Code in Connacht, 1879-1906: Association Football in the Shamrock Shire’s Hy Brasil
10.15 am-10.35 am
Aaron O’Maonaigh (Dublin City University): “Who were the Shoneens?”: Irish militant nationalists and association football, 1913-1923
10.35 am-10.55 am
Tom Hunt (Independent Scholar): Harry Cannon: a unique Irish sportsman and administrator
10.55 am-11.10 am
Questions and Answers
Late Morning Session: The 1960s onwards
11.40 am-12.00 pm
Cormac Moore (De Montfort University): Football Unity During the Northern Ireland Troubles?
12.00 pm-12.20 pm
Daniel Brown (Queen’s University, Belfast): Linfield’s ‘Hawk of Peace’: pre-Ceasefires reconciliation in Irish League football
12.20 pm-12.40 pm
Helena Byrne (Independent Scholar): How it all began: the story of women’s soccer in sixties Drogheda
12.40 pm-12.55 pm
Questions and Answers
1.00 pm-2.00 pm Break for lunch
Afternoon Session: Coaching and Developing the Game
2.00 pm- 2.20 pm
Conor Curran (Dublin City University): The development of schoolboy coaching structures for association football in Ireland, 1945-1995
2.20 pm- 2.40 pm
Seamus Kelly (University College Dublin): Pedagogy, Game Intelligence & Critical Thinking: The Future of Irish Soccer?
2.40 pm- 2.55 pm
Questions and Answers
Late Afternoon Session: Supporters and Governance
3.00 pm- 3.20 pm
Mark Tynan (Independent Scholar): ‘Inciting the roughs of the crowd’: Soccer hooliganism in the south of Ireland during the inter-war period, 1919-1939
3.20 pm- 3.40pm
Robert and David Butler (University College Cork): Rule Changes and Incentives in the League of Ireland from 1970 – 2014
Questions and Answers
3.55pm- 4.15 pm
It promises to an interesting and enlivening day of discussion and isn’t to be missed. We look forward to seeing you there in the New Year!
Over the weekend while visiting my home in Waterford, I spoke at two events. The first was Booze Blaas and Banter as part of the Imagine Arts Festival hosted by the Waterford Council of Trade Unions. The second event, also part of the festival, was the launch of the newest issue of Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society‘s journal, Decies. I spoke alongside Tom Hunt and The Knotted Chords, a Waterford two-piece who provided the music. Here is an edited text of my short talk:
I want to talk briefly tonight to you all about some thoughts I have been mulling over for a while and of which the article on family history in the current issue of Decies is a product.
The article has been a long time in the making. It began its life as a series of blogposts I wrote on my own blog, the sidelines of history, and evolved over time and thanks to Cian’s encouragement into what is in the journal as we have it before us. In the article I make case studies out of several people in my family who I learned about while doing my family tree over the past year or so. I tried to look at their lives and explain them in relation to more well-known themes from Irish history: the history of the revolutionary decade, from the view point of labour and also emigration history. I wanted to do it in part because I wanted to share what I thought were interesting stories from my family that have helped me to learn not just more about myself and my family but have taught me something about those major historical themes.
Among the ordinary people we often find the most extraordinary stories. A long time ago, in an interview I did for a local paper, I said that it was important for me that people should recognise themselves in their history and I still believe that. The world has enough – and will continue to have – the histories of kings, and generals, of the wealthy and the powerful. What marks the era since the middle of the 1900s as unusual is the interest we can take in the history of people like us – ordinary people who lived in and help make their own times extraordinary. We must not lose sight of the fact that this is an unusual and revolutionary turn in the focus of history. We must continue to write and research about the lives of ordinary people who may not have changed the world in the way we normally understand that idea – but who in their own lives and their own experiences of the world have something valuable to teach us about their time and about our own time. It is imperative, especially in the climate of the world at present, that the stories of ordinary people are not swallowed up, simplified, spat back at them and ignored.
As someone who is currently describing himself as a recovering academic, I have begun to think more and more about the function of history outside and beyond the academy. History for most of us is a deeply personal thing. There are often gaps between the personal histories we carry with us from our families and the official version of national or local history as we learn it in school. History is not just written by the winners, it usually written by those who can write. And those who can write, traditionally have been those who have had power. The battle is not always a literal one, but it is always a vital and a real one.
The great bulk of people crop up almost nowhere in the historical record. The powerful have a tendency to write about themselves and as long as history belongs to the powerful then our own, more common histories, will continue to be ignored and forgotten, yet more victims of the condescension of posterity. Of course, as my own article highlights, this is changing slowly but it’s a change we must be careful to to nurture. As anyone who has dipped their toe into the vast world of family history and genealogy can tell you, in our age of recording and tabulating – going back to the beginning of the nineteenth century especially – it is easier to find your relatives than ever before. The vast explosion in websites like ancestry and others like it has aided this process greatly as does the general process of the digitization of records like birth, marriage and death certs.
But if we are serious about genealogical history, about family history, being more than a mere pastime for people – if we want our personal family narratives, the ones which complicate and contradict the official strands of the historical record, to count for something then we need these things to be written about. We need to teach people more than how to simply find the name and birth and death date of their great-great-grandmother. We need to teach people how to think about the lives these people would have lived – to think more about the choices people were forced to make in the course of their lives so that you have ended up in this place and time in your life. Inside all of our family histories lurk the very things that drive “serious” history. If all the world is indeed a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players than we must give greater consideration of the roles they played. For it is the ordinary people of the world, who have and always will outnumber the powerful and the privileged, who have done most to shape the world even as they are told they have done the least.
So, here is my hope for my article – that by reading it, those people who research their own family trees and their own family histories will stop not when they have stretched back to their four-times-great-grandmother, and say the family history is complete. Instead, I hope my article will encourage people to ask questions about why their great-grandmother gave birth to twelve children only six of whom survived or why it was their great-grandfather went to work abroad for a decade or any number of the things which happened to these people as they lived their lives in their own times. Only by answering those questions can we really begin to write our own histories. Only by writing our history can we claim some power over the narrative. Only with the power that comes from knowledge of our own complicated version of the past can we begin to question the version of history which can look so unlike the one we experience.
As this year’s budget is released in Ireland, I think it is timely to reconsider this book by Tom Garvin.
Garvin, a professor of political science at UCD for most of his professional career, wrote the book in 2004 at a time when – they tell us – we were all partying. Or at least, that’s what they would tell us once the hangover set in late 2008. I read this book while studying at UCC, and so far as I can recall, I didn’t read it until post-crash, sometime in late 2008, early 2009, in the final year of my degree.
The book, I recall, had an extraordinary impact on me at the time. Despite being written at the height of the boom, one reviewer notes that although “there is some discussion of later periods, this is not the place to look for an explanation of the “Celtic Tiger” era.” True enough, but that it was written in that era is not insignificant for how Garvin looked at the 40s and 50s, the period which receives the most sustained attention.
In essence, the argument of the book – and one which at base I continue to think is nearly impossible to refute in most ways – is that the combined emergence of a new political elite from the revolutionary generation of the 1920s who were largely quite socially, economically and intellectually conservative combined with the rising power of the Catholic Church actively attempt to prevent the modernisation, and indeed secularistation of society in Ireland which was the hallmark of the postwar consensus across much of western and northern Europe. They were intent, as the books title suggests, to prevent the future.
And in some ways we live still with the success of their attempts to prevent the future, whether that be the future represented by the emergence of social democracy or something else entirely.
As the complainers on social media about a €5 increase to social welfare – miniscule in itself when we consider the same government just weeks ago sought to actively refuse €13 billion euro of owed taxes from Apple – indicate, Irish society sees social welfare safety nets not in terms of a collective responsibility to care for the vulnerable in our society. Emigration has rocked Ireland in the past eight years as it did during the period Garvin examines in Preventing the Future. Our homelessness crisis continues and looks set to continue as rent increases in our major cities show no sign of abating. The resistance to repeal the 8th amendment and finally provide women living in Ireland with the right to choose how to live their lives without fear of criminalisation and stigma remains. The idea that some are deserving of our sympathy and charity and others not persists. Ireland has yet to move beyond this.
Whatever future might have been imagined for Ireland once, it is hard not to feel that any number of these futures have been prevented. In many cases, this has been a mixture of the active insistence of Irish elites that the country works just fine as it is, and the passivity of the population in general not to change its own habits in terms of voting. This has meant the continued acceptance that our elected representatives have more often than not completely failed us as a people in making the choices that will actively make Ireland a fairer, more equal society. That is “just how it is”.
It is further evident from the mean-spirited attitude of those who see the €5 increase as a sign that life on the dole is better than working that many members of the Irish population, rather than reflecting on the experience of the past eight years that has seen services slashed, emigration rise and homelessness reach unprecedented levels, they have swallowed the rhetoric that pits us against one another. The deflection away from the staid thinking of economic policy in Ireland, away from the continued failure to account for the fact the current generation of under 30s have inherited a social and economic mess largely not of their making but for which they have paid the heaviest price, suits those who continue to espouse the orthodoxies of the market as king. In other words, as they did in the 1940s and 1950s, those with power in Ireland continue to prevent the futures of many as those many had imagined it. The longer we continue to accept that that’s “just how it is”, then eventually we will be culpable for preventing our own futures.
In 1937, Irish football was in fairly healthy state, and had in many respects weather many of the worst storms of the decade. Domestic football had mixed fortunes in the 1930s, growing in popularity and casting off its image as the foreign game. At the same time, the games newfound popularity and the growth of the Free State League faced many difficulties as a result of the deep depression that Ireland, and the world, found itself early in the decade following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. 1937 saw a first for Irish soccer, as we played Norway in our first competitive fixtures against one another at the end of the year which would be forever famous as the year that our new constitution came into force.
While most people will probably recall the game between both countries at USA ’94 in the group stages, our history of competing against one another goes back much, much further. Back in 1937, over the course of a month, Norway and Ireland played each other twice, in a pair of games for World Cup qualification – the new competition which had begun at the start of that tumultuous decade in 1930. The first game was played in Oslo at Ullevål Stadion, which I wrote about yesterday, and saw the Norwegians beat Ireland by three goals to two. Two of the winning goals were scored Reidar Kvammen, then a young policeman playing for Vikings in Stavanger where he would spend his whole career. Kvammen would also go on to be the first Norwegian player to reach fifty international caps, and he scored a career total of 17 international goals. The game was played in front of Norwegian king Håkon and Prince Olav.
The journey to get to Oslo was a gruelling one – the players went firs to Newcastle by boat and then onwards to Bergen, before a twelve hour journey from Bergen to Oslo. (Evening Herald, October 6 1937) However, the trip was not all travelling, with the Irish Press reporting that the players would be brought to see the viking ships at Bygdøy and dine at Frognersæteren Restaurant in Oslo before heading back to Bergen to begin the return leg of their trip. They even managed while in Newcastle, and waiting to head to Bergen, to catch Celtic take on Sunderland at Roker Park. (Irish Press, October 9 1937)
While there was disappointment with the loss from Irish officials, the trip was a success from a cultural exchange point of view. The Norwegian Fotballforbund (NFF) gave the Irish team a silver replica of a Viking ship as a gift, while the FAIFS gave their Norwegian counterparts a Belleek statue representing the figure of Eire. (Irish Press, October 14 1937)
The return game v Norway, and the prospect of getting to the World Cup proper was seen as an opportunity to get one up for the FAIFS against all the other home nation sides who were not taking part in the newly minted competition.
When the Norwegians came to visit Dublin, they stayed at the Gresham Hotel, and were received at Government buildings by President Eamon de Valera. Their post match dinner was at the Royal Hibernian Hotel.This game was a draw, with the Irish team getting a late equaliser to make it 3-3, however this wasn’t enough and Norway progressed. Remarkably footage of the game survives:
Once again the Norsemen have carried out a raid. It was vastly different from those perpetrated by their forefathers in the distant past, but even the modern Norsemen did not go away empty handed – they took away with them Ireland’s hopes of remaining in the World’s Cup competition.
There was a definite feeling that this was a bit of a missed opportunity since the the Irish team came back from 3-1 down to draw the game 3-3, though it was too little too late. Ireland would have to wait until 1990 before finally reaching a World Cup final competition, starting an era on unprecedented success for the national team but in 1937, they came very close indeed against Norway.