Tag Archives: Ireland

Kiss me – I’m Irish (kinda!)

In his weekly guest post Jack reflects on his Irish connections

Since I have a fairly distinctive Scots accent it’s not unusual for folk to come into the shop and ask if I’m Irish – go figger. begorrah and jings !

But, actually, I don’t particularly mind as the Celts tend to hang together and I have cousins who were born and live in Ireland so that’s OK. Of course it’s also the time of year when we are approaching St Patrick’s Day so everything is turning green and even Big Stone Gap will have its annual St Pat’s ceilidh dance this Friday. That’s something Wendy and I are involved in organizing since it actually started out in the bookstore. As the space available to dance got smaller we eventually moved a block up the street to a local Church hall and, with the help of our good friends in the Celtic band ‘Sigean’ as well as dance leader Cynthia a goodly crowd have a great time.

However, this year the Irish season gets extended a bit as it’s the Centenary of the 1916 ‘Easter Rising’ – the failed rebellion against British rule which resulted in the shooting by firing squad of the seven leaders but also led eventually to Ireland’s independence.

Even here there is a Scottish connection, as one of the seven executed was James Connolly who was born in Edinburgh. Poor James was badly wounded in the battle, which centered on the General Post Office in Dublin. Not expected to live anyway, he was nevertheless tied to a chair and shot for treason.

Of course it’s hardly surprising that there should be interest in things Irish in this part of the US. We’re very close here to where Danial Boone’s wilderness trail branched off westward from the great wagon trail which brought the ‘Scotch-Irish’ settlers down from Philadelphia. Some continued further South, some headed West into Kentucky, but a great many just stayed hereabouts. They brought their thrawn Presbyterian attitudes with them and being a thrawn Presbyterian myself I find that I fit in real well here!

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If you’re within traveling distance our ceilidh dance starts at 7 pm and is in the Big Stone Gap Presbyterian Church hall just one block up from the bookstore. You aren’t required to dance – you can just come and enjoy the music.

 

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized

Never Try to Recreate a Great Party….

Back in the mid 1990s when I was still working as a college HoD, I managed a number of European Union funded environmental education programs. They were all trans-national in nature, so we worked with a number of partners in other European countries. Each project lasted around four years and there were usually one or two conferences each year hosted by different partners.

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On one occasion The Dublin Institute of Technology was the host and I found myself being taken to all sorts of interesting places including a visit to the ‘Green Building’ in the city center Temple area. The building had just been completed, was pristine and featured lots of cutting edge ideas focusing on energy conservation in particular but also on air quality and the use of re-cycled materials. I was so impressed with the place that I have often spoken about it to people over the years since first seeing it.

 

Finding myself in Dublin this week for the first time since that conference in the 90s, I was keen to go back and see the ‘Green Building’ again and show it to Wendy and our friends David and Susan (the friends we’re vacationing with here.)bldg 2

 

Trying to establish exactly where it was located was hard as there was hardly any reference to it on the internet – puzzling – – –building 3

 

We finally found that it was less than ten minutes walk from our hotel and we set off with high expectations this morning. Alas I was sadly disappointed!

 

The door was locked and the outside of the building was grimy and neglected. As we stood outside the door opened and a man came out who, it turned out, lived in one of the apartments on the upper floors. Once he knew what our interest was he said it would be fine to go in. Oh dear! The once magnificent full height atrium that had housed magnificent gigantic giant leaved rubber plants employed to convert Co2 into Oxygen was also grimy and neglected with just the stumps of the plants to be seen. The more we looked around the more this story was repeated. I expected at least a plaque somewhere obvious telling people the building’s history and all the innovative ideas incorporated within it’s design. The way everything was computer modeled ahead of time, the things that worked exactly as designed and – – maybe the things that didn’t! But there was nothing, nada, zilch, nary a scribbled note.stairs

 

I felt sad and depressed and I wonder what the team of architects, designers, artisans and artists that created such a glorious building must think of the way it’s been treated.

And I suppose I felt a twinge for us all – that every good intention ends, every great plan has a jumping off point, every “wave of the future” returns to shore someday. Sad, that this one ended so badly, when it held such promise. A warning to us all, perhaps, as the New Year brings promises to keep.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, Downton Abbey, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, Scotland, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch