News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

October 24, 2004

News 10/24/04 - Group Denies Kidnapping Irish Aid Worker

News About Ireland & The Irish

UT 10/24/04 Rebel Group Denies Kidnapping Aid Worker
IO 10/24/04 Missing Disabled Man Spotted In Paris
KC 10/24/04 Not Your Average Bus Tour
PI 10/24/04 Bk: Writing Redeems Irish Fairy Tale Laden With Myths
OP 10/24/04 CD - Irish-Scots & Canadian Performers In Recording
LJ 10/24/04 Boston Public Library Hosts Joyce Display
DL 10/24/04 Michael Collins Memorabilia


Rebel Group Denies Kidnapping Aid Worker

The fate of Iraq aid worker Margaret Hassan today remained unclear
as the commanders of a rebel group reportedly denied kidnapping

Insurgents in Fallujah were said to have condemned the abduction
of the charity chief who was snatched by an armed gang in Baghdad
on Tuesday.

Despite making a video of the hostage in captivity the kidnappers
have not been pictured or made any claim of responsibility.

The statement by the Fallujah group came a day after the husband
of Irish-born Hassan made an emotional plea for her release on an
Arabic TV station.

Meanwhile the Foreign Office refused to be drawn on a report in
The Observer that British security officials were trying to find
the intermediary who established contact with the captors of
Briton Ken Bigley during his kidnap ordeal.

The newspaper claimed they want to ascertain if she is being held
by the group, controlled by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which seized and
eventually killed Bigley.

Its report also said British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw had been asked to take a back seat in appeals
for her release with the charity she worked for, Care
International, taking the lead.

A Foreign Office spokesman would only reiterate that efforts were
continuing on her behalf, saying: "We are working closely with the
Iraqi authorities to secure Margaret`s release."

Hassan, who was born in Dublin and has dual British and Iraqi
nationality, appeared in a video shown on TV station al-Jazeera on

She looked tired and distraught in the video as she called on Tony
Blair to pull out of Iraq and not to send troops to Baghdad.

She said: "That`s why people like Mr Bigley and myself are being
caught. And maybe we will die like Mr Bigley. Please, please, I
beg of you."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described the tape as "extremely
distressing" but Downing Street has refused to respond to the

Yesterday husband Tahseen Ali Hassan begged for her to be freed
"in the name of Islam", as he appeared on another station, Al-

"It hurts to watch my wife cry," he said.

Care International`s secretary-general Denis Caillaux has joined
the calls to free Hassan, emphasising the fact that she has lived
in Iraq for 30 years and given "decades of service" to the

Mr Caillaux said she was dedicated to the Iraqi people and added:
"She is a naturalised Iraqi citizen and always holds the people of
Iraq in her heart."


Missing Disabled Man Spotted In Paris

24/10/2004 - 20:13:42

French police are confident a 42-year-old Dublin man, who
disappeared in Paris four days ago, has been spotted, it emerged

Brendan Brady from Palmerstown, Dublin, who is physically
disabled, was on holiday at Eurodisney with the RehabCare charity
when he got separated from his group on Wednesday evening.

Chris Macey, a spokesman for the Dublin-based charity said the
positive sighting was “great news” and said he was cautiously

A local man told police he had seen Mr Brady in the Place Saint
Augustin in central Paris at 7pm yesterday. The square is just 10
minutes walk from Auber train station which is on the main rail
line from Eurodisney into Paris.

An immediate search of the popular tourist attraction failed to
locate Mr Brady last week and a major operation, involving French
police, Interpol, the Department of Justice and the Irish Embassy
in Paris was launched.

Posters have been displayed throughout the French capital, alerts
issued to the media and his description circulated throughout the
Paris public transport network.

Mr Macey said the organisation was doing everything possible to
ensure Mr Brady’s safe return.

“The RehabCare staff who were on the trip are obviously very upset
about Mr Brady’s disappearance,” he said.

“They are extremely professional people who reacted immediately to
this very difficult situation and did everything possible to
locate him once they realised he was missing.”

He stressed that hundreds of RehabCare clients go on foreign trips
each year and that all proper procedures were followed fully by
the staff on the ground.

There were eight clients on the trip and two members of staff, a
ratio well within recommended guidelines, he added.

A team of six senior RehabCare staff are in Paris to help in the
search for Mr Brady, who suffers from scoliosis – a curvature of
the spine, and has a speech impediment.

The Dublin-based charity is also in constant contact with the
Brady family in Palmerstown to offer support.

French police opened a missing persons file.


Not Your Average Bus Tour

Kansas City fans buy into Celtic band's trip across Ireland

By TONI LAPP The Kansas City Star

DUBLIN, Ireland — It's Friday night at Whelan's, a storied pub
touted as the place to catch live music in Ireland's capital. The
night's offering is Black 47, a Celtic rock band from New York.

The place is packed, as it always is on weekend nights, and even
though it's low season, Americans swarm inside in equal numbers
with the Irish. When I reach the ticket window, the rep asks for
my 15 euros.

“I'm with the band,” I say, intoning words I've always wanted to
claim. She checks for my name on a list and verifies that I am,
indeed, with the band.

Many a wild evening has begun with those four words, I think as I
enter the building.

A tour like no other

You know it's going to be a different sort of packaged tour when a
concert T-shirt arrives neatly folded in the envelope with your
airline tickets.

But that's why most of the folks signed up for Black 47's tour of

I was one of about 120 tourists who paid $999 last fall for the
privilege of traveling “with the band.” Having traveled to Ireland
two years earlier with my grandmother on a bus tour that included
afternoon teas and castle tours, I looked on the Black 47 trip as
a new way to experience Ireland. I found it.

While struggling for ways to finance a concert tour, Black 47
singer/songwriter Larry Kirwan struck on the innovative: Bring
along three busloads of tourists, who would subsidize the gigs and
guarantee an audience of loyal fans each night. Throw in some
sightseeing and pub crawls and you have a bus tour unlike any

“It's been a win-win situation for everybody,” says John Hammond,
whose Hammond Group Tours organized the trip. “The people on the
trip love the band and like the music. They say they get to know
the band better.”

Black 47 performed four shows on our weeklong trip, beginning in
Galway, the day we arrived bleary-eyed with jetlag.

Many of us were drawn to the prospect of seeing Black 47 on the
native soil of bandleader Kirwan, who left Ireland in the mid-
1970s. Celtic influence is integral to the group's music, and
songs blend political and cultural references to the Emerald Isle.
The group will lead another tour in November.

Kirwan has a voice that is raw and brassy — think Bruce
Springsteen with a brogue. Black 47's 1993 cult hit, “Funky
Ceili,” Kirwan's hilarious account of his transition from bank
clerk to a musician “playing me jigs and me reels and me slides,”
got a great reception every night. (Many area Celtic music fans,
including me, have had the pleasure of attending Black 47 shows on
recent tours through Kansas City.)

It was fun to watch the charismatic Kirwan engage audiences in
each city. In Dublin: “Aw, c'mon, Galway city was louder than you
lot!” In Wexford: “Dublin city was louder than this!” In each case
the audiences responded enthusiastically to the playful goading.

The American tourists attended the shows with a bit of pride for
the group-proclaimed “house band of New York,” while the Irish in
the audience were there out of curiosity to see the local bloke
who put a hit song on U.S. charts. They respond

ed with a good deal of fervor to Black 47's songs about Ireland's
struggle for freedom.

“This James Connolly guy sure is popular,” I quipped to a guy
after Kirwan belted out his song celebrating the revolutionary who
orchestrated the Easter Rising in 1916. My newfound friend just

The ‘alcohol component'

Part rock 'n' roll phenomenon, part sightseeing extravaganza, our
itinerary had a decided bent toward political sites such as
Dublin's Kilmainham Gaol (a prison), where Irish leaders in the
fight for independence were executed by the British.

The West Cork Regional Museum opened just for our group's off-
season visit. We examined artifacts that had inspired Kirwan in
writing the song “Big Fellah,” particularly letters that two young
Irishmen had written home on the eve of their executions by the
British in the 1920s.

While the tourists displayed polite interest for such stops, most
enthusiasm was reserved for the band's evening gigs. Indeed, many
passengers slept hung over on the bus as the verdant countryside
slipped by the windows.

“There is an alcohol component to Black 47,” said one traveling
companion, understating the case. At times I thought some people
in our group — which ranged from 20-somethings to 30-somethings —
were on the trip solely to imbibe copious quantities of Guinness
and looked on Black 47's performances as an added benefit.

One of our fellow travelers earned a reputation for her late-night

ing but somehow managed to pull herself together looking a little
worse for wear every morning in time to board the tour bus. A few
of the partiers were not so prompt, and one had to be roused from
his room while a coach full of people waited as he packed on the
fly. His profuse apologies to fellow travelers included an offer
of free drinks.

Many of the Irish we encountered at pubs and restaurants were
curious as to what brought us to their country in November. I
relished the looks on their faces when I explained that we were
following a rock band. Despite my protestations that I was a
tourist — not a groupie — they seemed to regard me with a certain
amount of unwarranted admiration.

On the road

Of course, traveling with a rock band had its moments. One of the
more riotous legs of the journey took us from the southeast corner
of Ireland to the haunting countryside of West Cork, on the very
road where the Irish hero Michael Collins was assassinated in an
ambush in 1922.

As the tour bus pulled out of Kirwan's hometown of Wexford the
morning after the group's final gig, the singer took to the
microphone to comment on passing sites.

“Show us where you got arrested, Larry!” yelled one of the band
members from the back of the bus.

Unfazed, Kirwan gestured to a pub: “My grandfather used to get
drunk in there all the time.” He turned his attention to telling a
bit of the area's history — tales of conflict between Catholics
and Protestants, Irish and British.

Later the same band members tried to persuade a female tourist to
remove her clothes: “No one will judge you, no one will mention it
when we return to the States,” they cajoled.

She declined, but nevertheless the two, possibly emboldened by
Jamesons whisky, removed their own clothes. “You never realize how
restrictive pants are until they're around your ankles on a bus,”
said uilleann pipe player Joe Mulvanerty.

“Now I know the reason for (the Black 47 song ) ‘40 Shades of
Blue,' joked the bus driver. The shenanigans continued when the
bus stopped in a seashore town, and the two streakers took a dip
in the ocean — a bold move in November.

“That was mild,” Kirwan said later, adding that such occurrences
with a band are predictable. “I hope no one was freaked out by it.
It was the end of the gigs, and there's a certain relief when it's

By the end of the trip, most of us were remarking on how quickly
the week had passed. An “American wake” was held for us at a
Killarney pub. Our send-off was no sad parting, unlike the
original American wakes — sorrowful gatherings held for emigrants
on the eve of their departure. Many passengers took the
opportunity to mingle for an evening with the boys in the band as
Black 47's music echoed from the pub's sound system.

Bass player Andrew Goodsight was eager to muse, and when the
familiar crooning of “Funky Ceili” played, he offered me this
insight: “None of us would be here right now if it weren't for
this song,” telling the story of the surprise hit of 1993 — how
the band was caught off guard by the sudden popularity of the
single and didn't have a CD to release for months … after the
popularity had waned.

His comments were interrupted by a woman asking him to sign her
breast. A bus tour like no other, indeed.

To reach Toni Lapp, a copy editor for The Star, send e-mail to


Graceful Writing Redeems Irish Fairy Tale Laden With Myths

The Thirteenth Room
By Siobhan Parkinson
Blackstaff Press Ltd. / Dufour Editions. 227 pp. $16.95
Reviewed by Susan Balée

For American readers who can't get enough new Irish fiction,
Dufour Editions of Chester Springs has made itself Hibernia
Central. Culling the best titles from presses on the old sod,
Dufour distributes them all over the States. One of its latest
discoveries is Siobhan Parkinson's The Thirteenth Room, a modern
fairy tale about a nurse summoned to care for the dying patriarch
of Planten, an estate on the outskirts of a quiet Irish village.

In Britain, novels set in the mansions of the old gentry are
called "Big House" novels, and they are most popular among those
living in decidedly smaller digs. Parkinson's book delivers the
requisite details of the manse, its "cool, square, sunlit hall,"
elegant windows and plasterwork and polished hardwood floors.
Outside, "an expanse of lawn [fell] away to green and luscious
farmland." In other words, the place is posh, but the novel's
heroine - the young nurse Niamh - is given a strange attic room.
In this odd room, another young woman once lived, a girl named
Miriam who died tragically on the Planten estate more than a
decade earlier.

Parkinson wants to parallel the two women - Niamh, with her slight
figure and golden hair, bears a striking resemblance to the dead
Miriam - and also to bring into play a Grimm's fairy tale called
"Mary's Child," about a poor woodcutter's daughter adopted by the
Virgin Mary. Mary takes the child up to heaven to hang out with
the cherubs and generally enjoy her rich new life, but eventually
Mary needs to take a trip somewhere and gives the girl the keys to
13 rooms in heaven for safekeeping. Naturally, a warning
accompanies the keys: The girl can unlock any room and go into it
except for the 13th - that one's off-limits.

Naturally, the girl looks into the forbidden room. That's bad
enough, but what happens next is worse: She lies to the Virgin
Mary and says she didn't do it. And she continues to deny the
deed, even after she is tossed out of heaven, has two children
stolen from her by the enraged virgin, and then is burned at the
stake by people who think she killed her babies.

It's a gruesome tale and how exactly it relates to Parkinson's
novel isn't easy to figure out: Newspaper clippings about Miriam's
death are interlarded with Niamh's narrative of life with Elise
Taggart, the wealthy wife of the dying man she nurses; Elise's
retarded son Johnny; and her intimate friend and fellow musician,
Redmond. Upstairs and downstairs viewpoints are well rendered:
Elise and Niamh view the same events quite differently. Redmond, a
witty lover of all women, is the novel's most delightful
character. Room's weak point is its reliance on other texts - not
only the fairy tale, but the Greek myth of Leda and the swan as
channeled by W.B. Yeats. Indeed, a crazed swan actually attacks
Niamh, but Redmond rescues her: "By now Redmond was between her
and the swan and he had turned towards her. His dark-clothed body
had blotted out the bird's body and strange, demented, wings
appeared to grow from his back, making him look like an avenging
angel." Too many swans spoil the symbol and here we have: the swan
that impregnated Leda (Zeus in disguise), the bird that
impregnated the Virgin Mary (God in disguise), and the local
womanizer suddenly given the wings that make him either the swan
or the avenging angel.

Happily, the novel is felicitously written despite its dependence
on so many literary allusions. Especially good are the depictions
of the village of Dromadden and its eccentric characters, from
Niamh's encounters with the lonely librarian to the "cool priest"
("... She smiled at Father Noel to show that she didn't for a
moment think he was a paedophile or even an embezzler of parish
funds"). Parkinson writes best when she forgoes the myths and
describes places and people that she knows well. It's intriguing
for American readers to see how the New World encroaches on the
Old and vice versa. And that's a great reason to check out
Dufour's list of contemporary Irish titles.


New Celtic CD Aligns Major Performers From Ireland, Scotland And
Canada In Groundbreaking Collaborative Recording

Publish Date : 10/23/2004 10:41:00 AM Source :

Despite a market formerly dominated by major recording companies,
traditional musicians worldwide are rocketing to the top of the
Celtic charts with self-produced albums of the highest standard.
SCOTLAND AND CAPE BRETON", eighteen of today’s top performing
traditional Celtic artists come together on the latest release by
Celtic Crossings of San Francisco. Participating 'luminaries of
the Celtic tradition' include Tommy Peoples, Alasdair Fraser,
Robbie O'Connell, Daithi Sproule, Gearoid O hAllmhurain, Maeve
Donnelly, to name a few.

“The Independence Suite: Traditional Music from Ireland, Scotland
and Cape Breton” (Celtic Crossings, SF, CC2004)

Despite a market formerly dominated by major recording companies,
traditional musicians worldwide are rocketing to the top of the
Celtic charts with self-produced albums of the highest standard.
On “The Independence Suite: Traditional Music from Ireland,
Scotland and Cape Breton”, eighteen of today’s top performing
traditional Celtic artists come together on the latest release by
Celtic Crossings of San Francisco.

Signature performances are provided by:

Former Bothy Band fiddler Tommy Peoples, former Moving Cloud
fiddler Maeve Donnelly, award-winning Dublin piper Mick O'Brien
with fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Cape Breton pianist Barbara
MacDonald Magone & master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser,
Kilfenora Céilí Band’s Aidan McMahon and Anthony Quigney, Randal
Bays with Altan guitarist Dáithí Sproule, Cape Breton fiddler
Dougie MacDonald with pianist Allan Dewar (of Cape Breton's
Natalie MacMaster band), Ireland’s First Lady of Irish piano
Geraldine Cotter, slow aire flute virtuoso Mícheál Ó hAlmhain,
singer Robbie O’Connell (formerly of The Clancy Brothers & Robbie
O'Connell), Clare concertina master Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin with
fiddler Patrick Ourceau, the beautiful Celtic-language quartet
‘Navan’ and finally, a rare preview recording from Connemara’s
beloved sean nós singer Áine Meenaghan.

"Most compilations promote the work of a single label’s stable of
artists; or have an impressive collection, but still include
tracks from commercial labels like Green Linnet, Shanachie; or are
collections of live performances" says Celtic Crossings' producer
Cecilia McDonnell. "By teaming together to share their music on a
broader scope, these individual self-produced artists have
themselves contributed, rather than compiled selections from their
individual recordings. An enormous undertaking by 18 artists
spread across the world!"

With hundreds of new albums appearing annually, music fans want to
experience the broadest range in the most affordable way possible.
Many of the artists featured on the Independence Suite have made
critic Earle Hitchner’s Top 10 List in recent years (Irish Echo,
NY), as well as most other Celtic charts. In fact, the Number 1 CD
for 2003 is represented on “The Independence Suite”, in the
concluding track by piper Mick O'Brien & fiddler Caoimhín Ó

“The Independence Suite: Traditional Music from Ireland, Scotland
and Cape Breton” gathers some of the finest performers and
instructors of traditional music today. Together, they have likely
created the first ever compilation of its kind. Pipers, fiddlers,
dancers, singers and, many names who form the backbone of
Ireland’s legendary Willie Clancy school, the prestigious
Milwaukee Festival, New York's Catskills, Valley of the Moon and
other popular summer music schools. Other participants are
treasures whose music has been loved but never broadly available
until today.

If you could dream of the ideal Celtic collection for true
‘listeners’, this might be it. The Independence Suite has
‘something for everyone’. With its rich variety, this is a perfect
introduction to the depth and breadth of traditional music. From
haunting slow aires, to heart wrenching ballads, to vibrant reels
and jigs, the Independence Suite pulls you along on a musical
adventure. As a multiple All-Ireland champion concertina master,
piper and the only Irish musician to hold a Chair of Irish Studies
in North America, Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, PhD provides
beautifully crafted liner notes. Ó hAllmhuráin is the author of 'A
Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music' (O’Brien Press, Dublin,
1998). (

With deep roots in the 'pure drop' tradition, the participating
musicians share several key traits. Their collective devotion and
conscientious commitment to traditional music distinguishes them
among the finest performers and instructors. Each is enriching and
extending the Celtic musical tradition by performing, composing,
and teaching. They share a collective commitment ‘to the source’,
conscientiously acknowledging and often learning from the
‘anonymous’ folk composers, and memorizing tune names. They share
a commitment to perpetuating the tradition; all are teachers,
individually and as part of schools/workshops worldwide. And
finally, nearly all were either raised in the tradition (musical
families, siblings).

Why This? Why Now?

The last 20 years has seen an upsurge in collaboration between
Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton musicians. Until the 1980s, the
genres were primarily kept separate, substantially due to lack of
opportunity to meet and play together. While separation from
commercial labels is a relatively new event in Irish and Scottish
music, Cape Breton artists have self-produced their recordings for

Over the last 10 years, traditional music fans have rallied in
support of independently recorded traditional artists. According
to music reviewer Earle Hitchner (Irish Echo, NY), the number of
self-issued CDs grew enormously in 2003, and with the increase in
quantity came an increase in quality.

According to most Celtic music reviewers and retailers, the
majority of recordings received today are self-released. 50% of
Hitchner’s 2002 Top 10 and 60% of his 2003 Top 10 were self-
issued, including the Top 3.


Boston Public Library Hosts Joyce Display

-- 10/25/2004

Books >

As part of this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of
Bloomsday, the Boston Public Library (BPL) played host to a
traveling exhibit on the life and work of James Joyce. Dubbed
International Joyce, the exhibit launched in Berlin last April and
has moved across Europe and other continents. BPL will be the 31st
stop on the tour with 15 additional locations to go. Created by
the Cultural Division of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs,
the exhibit, which consists of 22 panels depicting the author’s
life in photos and text, was created by Michael Barsanti,
associate director of Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library,
which owns the Ulysses manuscript, and Declan Kiberd, professor at
University College, Dublin. According to the Boston Globe, the
exhibit "examines Joyce’s family, his love/hate relationship with
Ireland in general and Dublin in particular, and his fascination
with the story of Odysseus, the meandering Greek warrior."


Michael Collins Memorabilia


A new collection of Michael Collins memborabilia is unveiled at
National Museum of Ireland- Decorative Arts & History.

The National Museum of Ireland is delighted to unveil a collection
of Michael Collins memorabilia in the main reception of the museum
named after the famous Irish patriot, Collins Barracks.

The memorabilia is being donated by Michael Collins, the General's
great grandnephew and will become the centrepiece of the Michael
Collins Collection at the museum. In 1948 Col. Patrick Collins,
the General's nephew and Michael's grandfather, donated Michael
Collin's uniform to the museum.

Michael Collins was born in Cork in 1890 and work in London for a
period in the post Office Savings Bank. He joined the Irish
Republican Brotherhood in 1909 and was imprisoned in Frongoch
Prison Camp in Wales after his involvement in the 1916 Easter

Released from prison later that year, Collins would become the
leading figure in The War of Independence working as a military
leader, the Minister for Finance and the M.P. for Cork. Collins
also played a pivotal role in the Treaty negotiations with the
British Government that eventually led to the Irish Civil War.
While visiting pro-Treaty forces in Southern Ireland, Collin was
killed when his convoy was ambushed.

Michael Collins still remains an iconic and popular figure in
Irish history and this collection affords the public an excellent
chance to see the great man's memorabilia.

National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History
Benburb Street
Dublin 7
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 6777444

--- News

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