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January 26, 2007

SF Looks Set To Back PSNI

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 01/27/07 Sinn Féin Looks Set To Back PSNI At Ardfheis
GU 01/27/07 Hain Hopeful As Political Endgame Draws Closed
BB 01/26/07 Team To Probe Collusion Killings
BB 01/26/07 Leading LVF Man Jailed For Murder
IT 01/27/06 Opin: Adams Prepared For Historic Ardfheis
IT 01/27/07 'Playboy Of The Western World' 100 Years On
Brian Friel’s Play “Translations”
YN 01/26/07 Translations Receives Welcome Revival
NP 01/26/07 Words Fail When You're Remapping Ireland
NT 01/26/07 Eloquent Tongues But Anguished Irish Hearts
ND 01/26/07 Nothing Lost In 'Translations'
IT 01/26/07 A Festival? Sure That's Mad Ted
IT 01/27/07 Viking Ship Found In Boyne To Be Excavated
IT 01/27/07 20,000 Cars To Bypass Ennis As New Road Opens


Sinn Féin Looks Set To Back PSNI At Ardfheis

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
Sat, Jan 27, 2007

Sinn Féin members appear on track to endorse the Police
Service of Northern Ireland at an extraordinary ardfheis in
Dublin tomorrow after one of the most intensive
consultation exercises with the republican base ever
conducted by the party leadership.

Up to 3,300 Sinn Féin members are expected to gather in the
RDS tomorrow with about 900 of them mandated to vote on the
leadership motion calling for endorsement of the PSNI -
which would be a historic move designed to pave the way to
powersharing government with the DUP, the Ulster Unionist
Party and the SDLP by March.

Based on the general responses to over 100 private and
public meetings Sinn Féin leaders held with party members,
including IRA members, in the past two weeks they believe
that the motion, which has conditional elements, will be
passed tomorrow.

The motion leaves it to the ardchomhairle to implement
support for the police based on the DUP sharing power and
agreeing to the transfer of policing powers to the Northern
executive by May next year.

What will be crucial to Sinn Féin maintaining its unity and
cohesion is that party president Gerry Adams carries the
ardfheis with a sizeable majority, probably of 75 per cent
or more, and that no influential party personnel walk out
of the ardfheis.

In Belfast yesterday Mr Adams refused to predict by what
margin the ardfheis would vote. He described the intensive
consultation as invigorating for the party and added: "I
don't have a figure in mind, and I go forward in hope that
we will get the ardfheis behind us."

"But one thing I am very confident about is that whatever
the vote of the ardfheis Sinn Féin will remain united and
will face into the next phase of the struggle in a very
positive mood," he said.

Sinn Féin cumainn were last night finally deciding how
their delegates should vote. The cumainn account for over
more than of the votes with comhairle ceanntair, the ruling
ardchomhairle and Ógra Sinn Féin (which opposes the motion
and has about 35 votes) mainly making up the rest of the

Voting delegates come roughly half from Northern Ireland
and half from the Republic.

As these delegates made up their minds Sinn Féin said its
central objective was to secure a "proper" police service
that was fully accountable. The party also argued that it
had achieved "profound changes" in relation to "democratic
accountability, human rights protections and the ending of
political and repressive policing".

Mr Adams yesterday also urged support for the leadership
motion through a special pamphlet distributed with the
Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and Andersonstown News. He
said Sinn Féin was committed to delivering "fair, impartial
and effective" policing.

"We are committed to Irish unity. We support civic policing
through a police service, which is representative of the
community it serves, free from partisan political control
and democratically accountable," said Mr Adams.

He acknowledged republican concerns triggered by the Police
Ombudsman's report on RUC special branch collusion with the
UVF in north Belfast. "This has to be stopped," he said.
"What we don't support and what we will never allow to
happen again is repressive, sectarian and political

Republican Sinn Féin said it would picket the ardfheis
while the Continuity IRA, to which it is aligned, rejected
appeals from Mr Adams to engage in talks.

© 2007 The Irish Times


Hain Hopeful As Ulster's Political Endgame Draws To A Close

· Key talks 'will decide province's destiny'
· Sinn Féin-DUP deal likely to pave way for elections

Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Saturday January 27, 2007
The Guardian

The moment of truth in Northern Ireland's peace process
will arrive on Tuesday evening - at the latest - when
British and Irish ministers authorise fresh elections or
collapse the assembly, Peter Hain has revealed.

The result of the coming days of intensive negotiation will
decide the province's destiny for years to come, the
Northern Ireland secretary told the Guardian.

Speaking before tomorrow's Sinn Féin conference in Dublin,
which is expected to reverse a century of opposition to
British-backed policing, Mr Hain emphasised the tight
political timetable ahead. A convincing demonstration of
republican support for law and order will open the way for
the restoration of devolved, power-sharing government at
Stormont - and the breathtaking prospect of Gerry Adams
working side by side with Ian Paisley.

A favourable response from the leader of the Democratic
Unionist party to Sinn Féin's vote will be required to
persuade Mr Hain, Tony Blair and the Irish taoiseach,
Bertie Ahern, that a power-sharing executive - led by
unionist and republican politicians who have spent a
lifetime excoriating one another - is workable.

"This is political endgame," Mr Hain said. "It's a point of
both political insecurity and great potential. Each party
is eyeballing the other across the divide and wondering
whether they will deliver as promised. I believe both will.

"What has occurred in the past 18 months, since the IRA
gave up its weapons, [has brought] momentous changes. There
has to be delivery [by Sinn Féin now] on policing and the
rule of law. The motion has to have some practical effect.
I'm convinced that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness want
this to work. I'm equally convinced that Ian Paisley wants
to be first minister on March 26, but only if there's
delivery on the rule of law."

The transitional assembly sitting at Stormont will end at
precisely one minute past midnight on Tuesday morning.
Later that day a report by the Independent Monitoring
Commission is expected to provide further confirmation that
the IRA has abandoned violence and moved away from

"The choice for Northern Ireland politicians now is
devolution or dissolution," Mr Hain added. "Fresh elections
for [a new] assembly on March 7 or dissolution for goodness
knows how many years to come. This is a once in a
generation political opportunity. It's a crunch moment, a
moment of truth. All the conditions are in place for
success, so I hope I don't have to go down the dissolution
road. We are on the brink of the police endgame. This is
quite a tense moment of truth."


Team To Probe Collusion Killings

A special team has been set up to re-investigate murders
the Police Ombudsman said were committed by UVF men who
were also police informers.

Nuala O'Loan said there was collusion between officers and
a north Belfast UVF gang which killed up to 16 people.

The Historical Enquiries Team, set up to investigate 3,000
Troubles deaths, has established a special team.

It will re-examine the deaths of 10 people named in the
report and other complex cases.

The commander of the team, Dave Cox, said he hopes they
will be able to convict the killers.

"We are reinvestigating the cases - the actual murder
incidents," he said.

"Our aim is to try and uncover evidential opportunities to
get those responsible for these murders before a court."

The team will also give the Ombudsman any evidence it
uncovers of collusion involving members of the police.

Crimes Linked To Informants

The murders of 10 people
10 attempted murders
10 "punishment" shootings
13 "punishment" attacks
A bomb attack in Monaghan
17 instances of drug dealing
Additional criminality, including criminal damage,
extortion and intimidation

Her report said UVF members in north Belfast committed
murders and other serious crimes while working as informers
for Special Branch officers who gave the killers immunity.

The officers "created false notes" and blocked searches for
UVF weapons.

They also paid almost £80,000 to leading loyalist Mark
Haddock, jailed for 10 years last November for an attack on
a nightclub doorman.

Responding to the report, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde
offered an apology to the victims' families.

He said the report made "shocking, disturbing and
uncomfortable reading".

The report, published on Monday, called for a number of
murder investigations to be re-opened.

The ombudsman's investigation began more than three years
ago when Belfast welder Raymond McCord claimed that his
son, also called Raymond, had been killed by a police

The former RAF man, 22, was a member of the UVF who had
some involvement in drugs.

In 1997, he was beaten to death and his body dumped in a

Mr McCord has said he wants those who murdered his son to
be put in prison.

Among the investigations which could be re-opened are the
murder in north Belfast in 1992 of 27-year-old taxi driver
Sharon McKenna, who was shot at the home of an elderly

The names of the police officers and the informers have not
been made public.

However, it is known that the main informer at the centre
of the investigation is Mark Haddock, who was named in the
Irish parliament 15 months ago as a UVF killer.

Some of the Special Branch officers criticised in the
report have rejected the ombudsman's allegations as
"unfounded and incapable of substantiation".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/26 18:08:25 GMT


Leading LVF Man Jailed For Murder

A leading member of the Loyalist Volunteer Force has been
sentenced to 28 years for the murder of Portadown
grandmother Elizabeth O'Neill.

William James Fulton, 38, of Queen's Walk, Portadown, was
jailed for 48 terrorist offences including attempted murder
of four police officers.

Mrs O'Neill, 59, died in an explosion at her home in the
mainly loyalist Corcrain estate in Portadown in 1999.

Mr Justice Harte ordered Fulton to serve a minimum of 25

His lawyers had argued at Belfast Crown Court that he
should not serve more than 20 years because that was the
longest term other paramilitary prisoners served during the


He was also sentenced to 28 years for the attempted murder
of four police officers during the Drumcree dispute in

His co-accused, Muriel Gibson, 57, with an address at Clos
Trevithick in Cornwall, was sentenced to eight years for
LVF membership and destroying evidence following the murder
of Adrian Lamph in 1998.

Mr Lamph, a council worker, was murdered in April 1988.

Mrs O'Neill died after picking up a bomb which had been
thrown at her home where she had been watching television.

Passing sentence on Fulton, the judge said: "His
culpability for what happened is greater than anyone else
involved in this episode and I propose to sentence him

"This was a very grave crime with many aggravating features
and I think the minimum period necessary to satisfy the
requirements of retribution and deterrence before he can be
considered for release is 25 years imprisonment."

After the trial, Mrs O'Neill's son Martin said although he
was happy that justice had been done, those who made and
threw the pipe bomb were still at large and should give
themselves up.

The trial was the longest in Northern Ireland's legal

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/01/26 16:07:03 GMT

Opin: Adams Has Prepared Ground For Historic Ardfheis

Ed Moloney
Sat, Jan 27, 2007

Bending Sinn Féin to the leadership's will has not always
been easy and has sometimes required patience and guile,
writes Ed Moloney.

It is now nearly 25 years since the IRA in south Armagh
forcibly abducted a soldier in the Ulster Defence Regiment
and, in an extraordinary irony, set in motion events that
will in all likelihood culminate tomorrow in a decision by
Sinn Féin's ard-fheis to accept and recognise the policing,
criminal justice and prison systems of Northern Ireland.

The soldier's unthinkably terrifying ordeal at the hands of
the IRA's most ruthless unit sent the Belfast-based
Redemptorist priest Fr Alec Reid hotfoot to the door of the
Provisional movement's de facto leader, Gerry Adams, in
what proved to be a vain effort to save the soldier's life.
Whether Fr Reid arrived too late or his intercession was
always doomed, we will never know; the unfortunate soldier,
Sgt Thomas Cochrane, was interrogated, shot dead and his
corpse dumped a few days later near the Border.

Although the Redemptorist priest failed to save Sgt
Cochrane's life, the dialogue with Gerry Adams that
followed, starting in November 1982, marks the beginning of
what became the peace process. Fr Reid knocked at Adams's
door at a distinctly opportune moment. In its first, non-
hunger strike electoral outing under the Sinn Féin label,
the IRA's political wing had just days before won five
seats to the now forgotten Prior Assembly at Stormont.

A viable, and potentially more advantageous political
alternative to violence had opened up for the Provo
leadership. Within a short time Gerry Adams and Fr Reid had
designed the building blocks for what would become the
IRA's ceasefire, the Good Friday agreement and all that has

It has been a long and twisting journey between that tragic
event in south Armagh and the gathering of Sinn Féin
members at the RDS tomorrow, but with the benefit of
hindsight a number of conclusions can be drawn from that
trek about the way the Provisional movement under the Adams
leadership conducted and conducts its business.

One is that virtually every policy initiative and
stratagem, both military and political, proposed by that
leadership and adopted by both wings of the movement since
the early 1980s was conceived and implemented in order to
ensure that, eventually, tomorrow's meeting could happen.

Another is that it has always been much easier to
manoeuvre, cajole and otherwise propel the IRA down the
desired road than Sinn Féin. The IRA during the period of
the peace process was much smaller than Sinn Féin, never
more than 400 to 500 members, all of them known to the
leadership, many promoted by it and their status and
wellbeing dependent upon unfaltering loyalty to that
leadership. It was and is a disciplined military outfit
whose orders come from an army council that Adams and his
allies had dominated since the late 1970s. Shaped by that
leadership, the IRA of the peace process was one with
little patience for internal democracy - dissent was
stamped out ruthlessly.

One way or another the IRA was always easier to control
and, apart from one short-lived rebellious bout in 1996,
was invariably amenable to the will of Adams's leadership.
The failure of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British premier Tony
Blair and their various advisers to understand this, and to
realise that IRA decommissioning could, had they insisted,
have been delivered much earlier than it was, led directly
to the collapse of such middle ground as there was in the
North, to the eclipse of the SDLP and Ulster Unionists by
Sinn Féin and the DUP.

By no means untainted by authoritarianism, Sinn Féin was
nonetheless a different creature. Larger and more diverse
than the IRA, it was a place where debate and dissent could
and did exist, where political ideas were challenged, often
by people who saw themselves as guardians of the republican
conscience and ideology. Bending Sinn Féin to the
leadership's will was more difficult.

No better example of this can be found than in the
Provisionals' rejection of the federal Ireland policy of
the Ruairí Ó Brádaigh/ Daithí Ó Connail leadership. A
prerequisite to winkling the two men out of leadership
positions, and eventually out of the Provisionals
altogether, Éire Nua was binned by the army council in 1979
but it wasn't until 1982, just before Gerry Adams succeeded
Ó Brádaigh as president of the party, that Sinn Féin was
persuaded to ditch the policy.

Sinn Féin's stubborn resistance to the IRA's diktat at
times meant that when it came to ensuring that the party
toed the line, unconventional methods were adopted.

A startling example of this came with the passing of a key
1986 ardfheis decision to drop abstentionism in the 26
counties, a vote that forced Ó Brádaigh's departure and
gave the infant peace process credibility in government

None of us in the media noticed at the time, but
mysteriously the number of delegates suddenly doubled for
that one meeting. The previous year the ardfheis had
defeated a motion saying abstentionism was not a principle
but a tactic, by 181 votes to 161, a total of 342 votes.
Any attempt to change party policy on the issue seemed

But the next year, 1986, the vote went dramatically the
other way. A leadership motion to drop abstentionism in
Dáil elections was won by 429 to 161 with some 38
abstaining, shading the required two-thirds majority by
just 11 votes. That was a total of 628 votes, nearly twice
the number voting 12 months before. The following year,
however, the number of delegates voting settled back to its
normal 350 mark and even in 1998, when the Good Friday
agreement was endorsed it was the same total, with 331 for
and 19 against.

So where had the extra 300 or so votes come from in 1986?
The passage of time eventually loosened enough republican
tongues for the truth to emerge. The IRA had arranged for
the creation of over 100 ghost cumainn that were all duly
registered at Sinn Féin's headquarters, whose bureaucracy
was by then safely under the army council's control.
Although none of the new branches had any members, they
were entitled to send two delegates each to the 1986
conference, which they duly did. According to republican
sources these were really army council delegates, loyal IRA
members committed to dropping abstentionism no matter what
Sinn Féin thought. In such a way was history made and the
peace process made possible.

There was similar sharp footwork at the May 1998 ardfheis
which approved the Good Friday agreement, but this time it
was the British and Irish governments, not the IRA, which
choreographed the steps. A first ardfheis was held in mid-
April, but the mood was decidedly hostile to the accord and
its unexpected centrepiece, a new Assembly at Stormont. One
sample of delegate views showed only 44 per cent favoured
the deal, well below the two-thirds needed. Wisely, the
Adams leadership stayed its hand.

A second ardfheis was held three weeks later, but this time
delegates arrived to discover that 27 well-known IRA
prisoners held in Irish and British jails, including the
notorious Balcombe Street gang, had been specially released
for the event. The effect of their presence was to remind
delegates that if they failed to endorse the deal these
prisoners would return to jail and spend many more years
behind bars. Not surprisingly the Good Friday agreement was
approved by 94.5 per cent of the ardfheis.

It would be surprising if the Sinn Féin leadership resorted
to such Tammany Hall-style tactics tomorrow. For one thing,
they are probably unnecessary. After all, the Sinn Féin of
2007 is the party of Mary Lou McDonald, not Ruairí Ó
Brádaigh. This record of chicanery is nonetheless one
reason why some view the prospect of the Sinn Féin
leadership entering government in either part of Ireland
with less than unalloyed enthusiasm.

But it also shows that Gerry Adams and his colleagues never
go to an ardfheis on a matter of importance unless they are
pretty sure what the result will be.

Ed Moloney is author of A Secret History of the IRA

© 2007 The Irish Times


'Playboy Of The Western World' 100 Years On

Sat, Jan 27, 2007

Synge's play facilitated artistic criticism of Irish
cultural life, writes Diarmaid Ferriter.

Writing to the playwright John Millington Synge on January
14th, 1907, Lady Gregory of the Abbey Theatre announced
starkly: "I feel we are beginning the fight of our lives .
. . we must make no mistakes". At the time, rehearsals were
being held for the Abbey's production of Synge's new play,
The Playboy of the Western World. The first performance was
100 years ago tonight, and so began one of the most
controversial episodes in Irish theatre history.

Looking back on the events a century later, what is most
striking is how many layers there were to this controversy.
On the surface, this seemed to be a story of a pious
nationalist audience reacting spontaneously and angrily to
a play that depicted violence, the celebration of patricide
and sexual frankness, most notably in the line spoken by
"playboy" Christy Mahon - that he would have no other woman
but Pegeen Mike, even if offered "a drift of Mayo girls
standing in their shifts".

But the reality was that there was much more going on. As
evidenced by Lady Gregory's letter to Synge, the Abbey
management had anticipated trouble and were keen to
confront it, despite the fact that neither she nor fellow
Abbey director poet WB Yeats had any particular liking for
the play. The disturbances lasted for nearly a week, and
Yeats, who was in Aberdeen when the play opened, came back
to Dublin to take charge of the defence. He eagerly grasped
the opportunity to launch an attack on the protesters, who,
he told the Freeman's Journal "did not have books in their

Although Yeats's charge was untrue - one of those arrested
was Irish language playwright Piaras Beaslaí, and many of
the protesters were genuine idealists - it suited Yeats and
Lady Gregory to assert their superiority in class terms.
Gregory made the private admission that "I was sorry that
we had ever let such a set inside the theatre", a reference
to the Abbey's recent decision to introduce a limited
number of six-penny seats in front of the stalls (the pit).
Yeats was also keen to engage in battle with Arthur
Griffith's Sinn Féin and refute the contention that an
artist from an Anglo-Irish background could not
legitimately explore the mysteries of native Gaelic
culture. Yeats condemned the censorship imposed by
"dictatorial societies, clubs and leagues".

The label "The Playboy riots" is inaccurate - what was
witnessed was mostly verbal disapproval, some drunkenness
and the odd scuffle, mostly outside the theatre; there was
no furniture broken and no physical attacks on the cast.
Yet, the police were called to the second and third
performances to remove the protesters. One historian of the
Irish theatre, Chris Morash, told the Synge Summer School
in 1999 that "Throughout the affair, it is possible to
trace a thread of drunken hilarity weaving its way through
the more serious strands."

Those strands included the battle fought and won for
artistic freedom, an important legacy of the disturbances.
Yeats, Gregory and Synge refused to give in, and the
precedent was established that the Abbey Theatre would
protect its artistic independence. It needed to do this
again during the civil war, when the IRA sought to close it
down; when confronted with more disturbances after the
opening of Seán O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars in 1926;
and when under pressure from politicians in the 1930s over
its repertoire.

Equally important was a stand taken to protect the
integrity of Synge, whose genius for translating dialect
and depicting the dignity and wildness of the west of
Ireland was unparalleled and informed by direct experience.
Bravely holding a mirror to Ireland in all its
contradictions, he was suffering ill-health (he died two
years later, at the age of 37) and had no appetite for the
public confrontation that the ego of Yeats needed. Having
spent several summers immersed in the west of Ireland, and
observing at close hand the kind of characters he wrote
about, he was unapologetic, and like all artists,
recognised that a hostile response is infinitely preferable
to indifference.

The great pity is that he did not live to cause more
disturbances in an Ireland debating self-definition, but he
did enough to secure his legacy, nationally and
internationally. Although Yeats, Gregory and Synge may have
formed an uneasy alliance, it was of huge benefit to Irish
cultural life, highlighting the importance of facing
difficult questions about language, violence, identity and

Diarmaid Ferriter lectures in Irish history at St Patrick's
College and DCU, and is an IRCHSS research fellow.

© 2007 The Irish Times


"Translations" Receives Welcome Revival By Frank Scheck

Fri Jan 26, 5:26 AM ET

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Brian Friel's drama about
cultural clashes and the divisive effects of language
receives a timely revival courtesy of the Manhattan Theater
Club, which presented the work's American premiere in 1981.

Director Garry Hynes ("The Beauty Queen of Leenane") has
delivered a beautifully staged and acted production that
goes a long way toward overcoming the work's dense verbiage
and rambling narrative.

Set in 1833 in Friel's oft-used fictional town of Ballybeg,
the play deals with the complications that ensue when a
pair of British soldiers arrive to map the area and
transform the original Gaelic place names into English.
Complicating the proceedings is the fact that one of them,
Lieutenant Yolland (Chandler Williams), becomes enthralled
both with the beauty of the countryside and with one of the
residents, Maire (Susan Lynch), in particular.
Unfortunately, she already is engaged to Manus (David
Costabile), the son of the town's head schoolmaster (Niall
Buggy), whose other son, Owen (Alan Cox), is serving as
translator for the British visitors.

Yolland and Maire's tentative courtship provides the play
with its heart, most notably in a gorgeously written scene
in which the pair manages to make clear their love for each
other even while barely understanding a word that the other

Friel's depiction of the troubled interactions between the
British interlopers and the townspeople has many amusing
moments, but an overall air of pathos permeates the
proceedings as the townspeople come to realize that the
language that defines them is being stripped away.

The ensemble cast (which includes Geraldine Hughes,
recently seen in "Rocky Balboa") performs their roles with
a wonderful feeling both for the period and the language,
never succumbing to the temptation to overplay for cheap

Presented by the Manhattan Theater Club and the McCarter
Theater Center.


Manus: David Costabile
Sarah: Morgan Hallett
Jimmy Jack: Dermot Crowley
Maire: Susan Lynch
Doalty: Michael FitzGerald
Bridget: Geraldine Hughes
Hugh: Niall Buggy
Owen: Alan Cox
Captain Lancey: Graeme Malcolm
Lieutenant Yolland: Chandler Williams

Playwright: Brian Friel; Director: Garry Hynes; Set/costume
designer: Francis O'Connor; Lighting designer: Davy
Cunningham; Sound designer: John Leonard; Original music:
Sam Jackson.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter


Words Fail When You're Remapping Ireland

By Clive Barnes

January 26, 2007 -- WORDS are the very substance of Brian
Friel's play "Translations."

To put it simply: It is a play wrapped up in a web of
languages (all spoken in English) and cradled in a
metaphor. Well, perhaps that wasn't so simple. Neither is
the play.

Friel's fascinatingly flawed "Translations" shows English
army engineers in early 19th-century Ireland systematically
mapping and renaming - Anglicizing - the Irish landscape.

The setting is County Donegal, 1833: 12 years before the
potato famine.

Friel introduces us to a so-called "hedge school," run by
the aged but commanding Hugh (one of Ireland's finest,
Niall Buggy) assisted by his sulky son Manus (David

The school teaches Irish-speaking local children the
rudiments of the Three R's, but not, on any account,

Hugh's elder son, likable Owen (Alan Cox), is translating
Gaelic documents for the English soldiers.

Among the English party is impressionable Lieutenant
Yolland (Chandler Williams), who falls in love with the
Irish countryside, the Gaelic language (which he cannot
speak) and the Irish people - in particular the spirited
Maire (Susan Lynch), already planning to escape to America.

The love affair is played out in a magical scene that is
not only the highlight of the play, but also one of the
great love scenes in English-speaking drama.

She speaks virtually no English, he even less Gaelic - but
they communicate their wild rhapsodic feeling for one
another by repeating, with heart-bursting sincerity, a
laundry list of Gaelic place names to express their
inexpressible love.

It's a dramatic moment - beautifully played by Williams and
Lynch - that could stop "Romeo and Juliet" in its tracks.

It can't, however, overcome the play's ramshackle
structure, and one of those terribly Irish, O'Casey-style
endings that leaves you up in the air with a sense of loss,
without knowing quite what has happened.

It's a difficult play to produce, and this version by the
Manhattan Theatre Club - staged by Tony-winning Irish
director Garry Hynes with evocative designs by Francis
O'Connor and superlative lighting by Davy Cunningham - is
better than most in uncovering playwright Friel's elusive
inner poetry.

We also have some grand performances, best of all Buggy's
boisterous, near tragic Hugh.

Yet despite many beauties displayed, the play's broken-
backed problems are here left quite a distance from


The Biltmore Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.; (212) 239-6200.


Eloquent Tongues But Anguished Irish Hearts

By Charles Isherwood
January 26, 2007
Theater Review 'Translations'

Quite a few languages are spoken in Brian Friel’s play
“Translations.” There is a fair amount of Latin and Greek.
Gaelic makes frequent appearances. And English is of course
the play’s official lingua franca.

But you can leave your Berlitzes and your dead-language
primers at home. A basic fluency in the workings of the
human heart is all that’s necessary to absorb the beauties
of Mr. Friel’s tender, sad and funny play about the
difficulty of finding a home in the world, a person to
share it with, and a name to call it by.

“Translations” has already had two major New York
productions: Off Broadway in 1981 and on Broadway in 1995.
Neither made much of a splash (it racked up just 25
performances in the more recent run), but “Translations” is
anything but a splashy play. A quiet ensemble drama set in
rural Ireland in 1833, it explores the troubled lives of a
handful of characters struggling to adjust to the shifting
dynamics of the world around them, which is undergoing
quiet but radical change as the hard fist of British
regulation seeks to impose itself on local tradition. Item
No. 1 on Britain’s agenda is mapping the island and
translating the Gaelic place names into proper English, a
process that has complicated political and cultural
overtones for the Irish people that resonate to this day.

Mr. Friel’s touch is delicate, his narrative artful but
oblique, his lyrical voice steeped in the lusty idioms of
rural Ireland. And then there’s the Greek and Latin,
intoned with joyous relish by men who like to chase it with
a spot of hard liquor. “Translations” is, in short, the
kind of play whose merits are likely to be lost in
translation when exposed to the bright spotlight of

And yet here it is on Broadway again, where it opened last
night at the Biltmore Theater, courtesy of the Manhattan
Theater Club (which also produced the Off Broadway
production) and the McCarter Theater Center in Princeton,
N.J. On this occasion it has wisely been entrusted to Garry
Hynes, the brilliant Irish director known for her work with
the fiery young playwright Martin McDonagh and the cycle of
plays by J. M. Synge seen at the Lincoln Center Festival
last summer. Ms. Hynes has in turn wisely entrusted Mr.
Friel’s challenging play to a stageful of little-known but
hugely talented actors, creating an ensemble of an
extraordinarily high caliber and consistency. In their
hands — on their tongues, I should say — “Translations” is
nothing short of glorious.

Mind you, the play trades in a subtle glory, the kind that
steals upon you furtively and without the help of advance
PR. Last season a revival of Mr. Friel’s “Faith Healer”
opened on Broadway with rather more éclat, thanks to the
high-profile presence of Ralph Fiennes in the title role.
Ms. Hynes’s cast boasts no stars of that renown, indeed no
stars of the renown of Mr. Fiennes’s estimable co-star, New
York’s beloved Cherry Jones. Nor does it involve the kind
of tour de force monologues of which “Faith Healer” is
composed, long, heart-searing speeches in which the
characters seem to shed their skins paragraph by paragraph,
until their souls stand naked and exposed before us.

But this news may come as a relief to those who found
“Faith Healer” a tough sit. “Translations” is ultimately as
emotionally resonant as that play is — and possibly just as
heart-rending — but its rich cast of colorful characters,
its more pointed humor and its layered narrative make it
more accessible. And nobody talks for more than two minutes
at a time, which is the blink of an eye for an Irishman

Why should they? All too often the words they speak cannot
be understood by their listeners, even when their lives
depend on them. In “Translations” Mr. Friel celebrates the
sweet music of human speech, but the play also explores the
seriocomic truth that language divides as easily as it
unites, and sometimes fumbles and stalls just when we need
it to soar. Greek or Latin, English or Gaelic, it is the
only tool we have to forge emotional bonds, diffuse social
conflict and translate inner passions into the practices of
daily living. But how paltry it can seem as a medium of
expression for all that fills our searching souls!

Its eloquence and its limits are most movingly illustrated
at the climax of the first act, when love comes upon two of
the play’s central characters with the speed of a runaway
horse. The Irish dairymaid Maire (Susan Lynch) has long
been betrothed to a local, but she yearns to escape the
stultifying culture of Ballybeg (the fictional town where
many of Mr. Friel’s plays are set, here also known in
Gaelic as Baile-Beag). Maire has recently announced a bold
plan to move to America, but her eye has been caught by
Lieutenant Yolland (Chandler Williams), the British soldier
with no fixed place in the world who feels strangely at
home among the wary but friendly locals. He has fallen in
love with the land, the people and, poignantly, the
language it is his job to make obsolete.

He speaks scarcely a word of Gaelic, and her English is
limited to a few phrases and a useless bit of nonsense,
courtesy of Aunt Mary: “In Norfolk we besport ourselves
around the maypole.” As they each trot out their stray bits
of each other’s language, Mr. Williams and Ms. Lynch — who
both give enchanting performances — make palpably clear the
anguish and frustration of being unable to find even rough
words to communicate inchoate feelings. As funny as it is
touching, this beautifully played scene exposes the truth
and the lie in the cliché that lovers need no common
language to lay bare their hearts.

But almost everything in this production plays beautifully.
The boozy give and take between Hugh (Niall Buggy), the
schoolmaster who runs the humble rural schoolroom where the
play takes place, and his prized old pupil Jimmy Jack
(Dermot Crowley), is wonderfully funny, as they tease each
other with etymological tests.

The mixture of tension and affection between Hugh’s sons is
intimated with subtle force. Manus (David Costabile), an
ardent nationalist, takes over the teaching chores when
Hugh has taken a nip too much, at least until his heart is
broken and he comes to feel an exile in his beloved home.
Owen (Alan Cox) ran away to Dublin and has returned to
Ballybeg as the hired assistant to the British soldiers in
their mission, which he believes can help advance the cause
of the locals, if they can be made to see it. (Now if only
he could get his employers to call him by his right name,
and not by the Anglicized Rowan.)

Mr. Friel’s characters are too complexly drawn — and in
this production played — to line up neatly for or against
the advent of a new language that may bring economic
benefits but will speed the erosion of an entire culture.
Hugh, that lover of dead tongues, makes the eloquent
observation that words “are not immortal,” and “a
civilization can be imprisoned in a linguistic contour
which no longer matches the landscape of ... fact.” The
mournful corollary Mr. Friel’s play gently illuminates:
People are far more mortal than the words they use, and a
changing civilization may leave them adrift and alone.

You don’t have to search hard for lamentable contemporary
resonance in “Translations.” The attempt to impose a new
civilization on a subjugated country by force looms as the
background for the smaller personal dramas that take up
much of the casually drawn narrative. And the plot turns on
the disappearance of a soldier, possibly a casualty of
Irish resentment of the occupying force.

But the quiet urgency of Ms. Hynes’s production derives
more from the limning of the small strains tugging at the
tight fabric of a community of individuals, each bedeviled
by a private struggle. The ensemble is rounded out by
Michael Fitzgerald as the impish young Doalty, who bridles
more than most at the presence of the British; Geraldine
Hughes as the feisty Bridget; Graeme Malcolm as the stern,
condescending redcoat Captain Lancey; and Morgan Hallett as
Sarah, a disturbed young woman who has trouble
communicating at all, and can barely say her name.

Ms. Hynes’s production also benefits from evocative work
from some of her regular collaborators, the set and costume
designer Francis O’Connor and the lighting designer Davy
Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham’s painterly lighting is
particularly integral to the nuanced contouring of the
production. As the narrative darkens in the last act, the
triangle of light that formed a bright spot in the dimness
of the barn is shut out, as hope for a promising end to
almost everyone’s trouble begins to dim.

A despondent and tipsy Jimmy Jack and Hugh are alone in the
dusk when Maire enters and asks, “Master, what does the
English word ‘always’ mean?”

He gives her the answer in Latin, but adds: “It’s not a
word I’d start with. It’s a silly word, girl.”

In fact, in the darkening gloom of the barn, in the final
moments of Mr. Friel’s haunting but hugely rewarding play,
it sounds like the saddest word in the English language. Or
any language.


By Brian Friel; directed by Garry Hynes; sets and costumes
by Francis O’Connor; lighting by Davy Cunningham; sound by
John Leonard; original music, Sam Jackson; production stage
manager, Richard Costabile; production manager, Ryan
McMahon; general manager, Florie Seery; producing artistic
director for the McCarter Theater Center, Mara Isaacs;
director of production, David York. Presented by the
Manhattan Theater Club, Lynne Meadow, artistic director,
and Barry Grove, executive producer; and the McCarter
Theater Center, Emily Mann, artistic director, and Jeffrey
Woodward, managing director. At the Biltmore Theater, 261
West 47th Street; (212) 239-6200. Running time: 2 hours 15

WITH: Niall Buggy (Hugh), David Costabile (Manus), Alan Cox
(Owen), Dermot Crowley (Jimmy Jack), Michael Fitzgerald
(Doalty), Morgan Hallett (Sarah), Geraldine Hughes
(Bridget), Susan Lynch (Maire), Graeme Malcolm (Captain
Lancey) and Chandler Williams (Lieutenant Yolland).


Nothing Lost In 'Translations'

Susan Lynch and Chandler Williams (holding hands) court
despite a language barrier. Graeme Malcolm (l.), Alan Cox
(second from r.).


Through April 1 at the Biltmore Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.
Tickets: $56.25 to $86.25. (212) 239-6200.

The power of language and the struggle to communicate are
themes that echo throughout Brian Friel's "Translations."

This portrait of a Gaelic-speaking town begins with a near-
mute woman triumphantly speaking her name for the first
time. It ends with her village stripped of its identity, if
not a voice in determining its own fate.

Friel's drama, which made its U.S. debut 25 years ago at
Manhattan Theatre Club, is by turns folksy and earthy and
poetic and mythic. This soulful revival, which opened last
night at the Biltmore Theatre in a co-production of MTC and
the McCarter Theatre Center, fully taps its treasures.

Credit the assured, unfussy direction by Tony winner Garry
Hynes ("The Beauty Queen of Leenane") and her crackerjack
American, Irish and English cast, which has no weak link.

The story is set in the fictional Irish town of Baile Beag
(Ballybeg) in 1833. A British brigade arrives to redo a map
of the region, in accordance with a Royal decree that all
Irish place names must be translated into English. The
seemingly benign mission gradually reveals darker

The action is set in an old gray barn now used as a school
by the scholarly and hard-drinking Hugh (Niall Buggy, who
anchors the production) and his well-meaning son Manus
(David Costabile). Hugh's long-absent son Owen (Alan Cox)
comes home from Dublin to work as an interpreter for the
British. The play's conceit is that the audience
understands everything, but the Irish and English
characters can't grasp what each other says.

The device works brilliantly when Bally-beg lass Maire
(Susan Lynch), who is eager to learn English so she can go
to America, and Lt. Yolland (Chandler Williams), a British
soldier smitten with Ireland, try to express their love.
They woo each other with names of Irish towns. It's the
play's best scene - deeply funny, touching and, ultimately
tragic, as their relationship leads to a disastrous and
unresolved tangle of events.

Graeme Malcolm, Michael FitzGerald, Morgan Hallett,
Geraldine Hughes and Dermot Crowley, a standout as a tipsy
local devoted to Greek words and goddesses, round out the
excellent ensemble in this engaging story about a long-ago
culture clash that speaks eloquently to today's world.

Originally published on January 26, 2007


A Festival? Sure That's Mad Ted.

Fri, Jan 26, 2007

The details of the world's first Father Ted festival have
been announced today.

The three-day event will take place on the picturesque
Island of Inis Mor, off the coast of Galway, next month.

The venue for the festival was announced earlier this week
amid furious opposition from neighbouring Island, Inis
Oirr, who insist that the shipwreck featured in the opening
sequence of the award-winning comedy series is an historic
and recognisable landmark of their coastline.

Thankfully, a truce was arranged between the feuding
islands with the agreement to compete in a five-a-side
soccer match on the final day of the festival.

The winning side will be awarded the title of "The Real
Craggy Island" for the following 12 months.

The organisers have hinted at the involvement of two high-
profile soccer celebrities to coach the opposing sides but
will not yet be drawn on their identity.

In addition to ball-kicking, there'll be a Lovely Girls
contest and voting on the best-ever episode and best guest
star. Graham Norton and Brendan Grace head the betting for
best guest.

Paddy Power has said that all profits from its Ted-Stock
betting will be donated equally to local charitable causes
nominated by all of the Aran Islands.

© 2007


Viking Ship Found In Boyne To Be Excavated

Mark Rodden
Sat, Jan 27, 2007

An ancient vessel discovered in the river Boyne late last
year is to be excavated, Minister for the Environment,
Heritage and Local Government Dick Roche announced

The vessel is thought to date from the early medieval
period and was discovered by chance during dredging
operations by the Drogheda Port Company in November.

The wreck lies close to Drogheda port and is believed to be
between nine and 16 metres in length. It is described as
"clinker built", which is a shipbuilding technology dating
from the Viking era but which was still in use centuries

"Potentially this is an enormously exciting discovery," Mr
Roche said yesterday. "But clearly we have to wait and see
what condition the vessel is in and have it dated."

"Carbon-dating analysis of some of the vessel's timbers has
been arranged by my department, with the results expected
in a number of weeks," he added.

The vessel is lying midstream of the Boyne, meaning it
poses a potential shipping hazard and cannot be preserved
where it is.

It is hoped that after excavation and further investigation
the vessel may eventually be put on public display.

It is envisaged that the investigation and excavation
operation will be completed by the end of March.

Mr Roche said yesterday that the National Monuments Service
of his department would oversee the excavation in co-
operation with conservation experts from the National
Museum of Ireland, while the Drogheda Port Company would
provide logistical support.

"Discoveries of this type highlight the rich and varied
heritage we enjoy in Ireland," said Mr Roche.

"My department and the other authorities involved will make
every effort to ensure the preservation of this potentially
highly valuable find and its safeguarding for the people of

The Minister added: "A find like this can tell us much
about the technologies, trading patterns and daily lives of
our ancestors and can open a window onto how life was in
Ireland over a thousand years ago."

© 2007 The Irish Times


20,000 Cars To Bypass Ennis As New Road Opens

Gordon Deegan

Sat, Jan 27, 2007

The official opening yesterday of the €204 million Ennis
bypass is expected to remove 20,000 cars from the streets
of Ennis each day.

Clare county engineer Tom Carey said the 14km scheme "will
allow Ennis to breathe again".

Under the previous development plan, the scheme was
initially due for completion in 2004 but was delayed due to
inadequate funding and a requirement to redesign it to
comply with new contractual requirements.

The work included the construction of a bat-house, visible
from the road, which cost in excess of €100,000 to protect
the lesser horseshoe bat along the route. The road's
construction forms another part of the Atlantic corridor.
Work on the next section, the Gort-Crusheen bypass, is due
to commence next year.

Speaking after officially opening the scheme yesterday,
Minister for Transport Martin Cullen described Ennis "as a
key county town that provides access to many scenic and
major tourist areas in the midwest region including Kilkee,
Lahinch and the unique Karst limestone region of the

He said: "With its proximity to Shannon airport, Ennis
facilitates many visitors from both the US and Europe and
today's opening will further benefit tourism to the town,
the surrounding areas and many other towns in the counties
of Clare, Limerick and north Tipperary which form part of
the Limerick Shannon gateway."

President of the Ennis Chamber of Commerce John Madden
said: "Today is a milestone in the history of Ennis. At
long last the bypass is here and we have to build on it."

According to the chairman of the National Roads Authority
(NRA), Peter Malone, "schemes such as the Ennis bypass are
important not just in a local context but nationally also.
The bypass forms part of the Atlantic corridor, which is a
core element of the Government's Transport 21 Plan.

"It will run from Donegal to Waterford and the ongoing
development of this corridor will facilitate business
expansion and tourism in the southeast, west and northwest
of Ireland."

© 2007 The Irish Times

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