Posts Tagged ‘ Trinity College ’

News in Brief- Tesco Launch Not So Eggcellent Trolley Deposit Scheme


For the day that’s in it and those of you that are in the office and in need of some NIB to brighten your day, let’s kick off with a catastrophe in Kerry.

A crucifix has the whole place divided as councillors can’t decide where to hang the thing in their local offices. Some councillors argue the inclusion of a crucifix, on their office wall; will promote sectarian divisions and religious inequality, while others think the mere presence of a little MDF son of God will make people more honest. Jesus, no pun intended (maybe a little bit); if a wooden statue could stop people lying we’d all be working under mini-statues of our mammies. Councillor Toirèasa Ferris, who labels herself a Christian, opposes the idea as she said; ‘where does religion come into pothole filling’. The councillors have obviously forgotten the real meaning of Easter which is entirely chocolate based.

Tesco in Ballymun understand, they know there are too many Easter eggs and not enough time. Just don’t grab too many, it’ll cost you a tenner for the use of a trolley. The new deposit scheme has been implemented after ‘massive trolley loss’. What constitutes ‘massive’ trolley loss exactly NIB wonders? Who knows though, they may rise again in a few days. Continue reading

A Year in Brief: Part One


What a year it’s been; Hitler birthday cakes, mutant rats, and Bob Geldof off to space! To celebrate the end of another 365 days here are some of NIB’s favourite stories of the year.

Kicking off the year in festive spirit a man in Derry was fined after stealing a CCTV camera which “became his friend”. Police found Peter Morrison, 24, drunk and “petting” the camera as they arrived to arrest him. CCTV pets are for life not just for Christmas. Continue reading

Shakespeare In The City: Much Ado About Will

Monday saw the beginning of the Fifth Trinity College Dublin Shakespeare Festival, which runs until Saturday 8th at various venues around the city centre. The programme boasts proudly that ‘all the city’s a stage’ for this week in June. Over 200 performances are scheduled to take place including out-reach events in participating primary schools. Indeed, there is so much bardic activity this week, that you would need to make a real effort to avoid falling over someone in tights giving a speech. Purely in the interests of research of course, I have been venturing out and about with my trusty companions to brush up my Shakespeare. Continue reading

Top Five Irish Actors Taking Centre Stage In The US

Ireland is recognised for the art of storytelling; from folklore, to literature, to music, to acting. For years it has produced remarkable stage and screen actors such as Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy to name a few, and now it would seem that there are a number of up-and-coming young male and female actors following their suit and paving their own way with their own distinctive careers. With St. Patrick’s Day not too far away, it is worth taking a look at a few actors making waves across the Atlantic and hoping that this trend only increases as time goes on.

Irish Film And Television Awards - Arrivals

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College Course Dissatisfaction

Students across the country are unhappy with their college courses and various aspects contained within them. If a survey recently performed by a well respected student website is to believed.

The survey done by student website has shown that just over a third of students in third level education on Ireland are  unhappy with college courses be it in their composition, their promises or their real world worth. Out of 3,894 students surveyed, 44% of students said they would take a different course if they could go back and fill out the CAO again, an imposing figure considering university today and its supposed high levels of education.

This may be down to a lack of clear explanations and outlines to what the course actually entails. Many college prospectuses’ can be too convoluted and may require a better knowledge of the course subject than obtained at second level. This is shown in that 30% of students noted that their college prospectus didn’t accurately describe their course.

The high levels of dissatisfaction with their chosen course according to the survey may be linked to the notion that students did not feel themselves accurately prepared for college after completion of secondary school. surveyed that 38% of students felt that second level education did not accurately prepare them for college.

And once in college, stress has also shown to be a major factor in the completion of third level degrees with 66% of students having considered dropping out due to stress.

These factors are leading to a large amount of students leaving third year education in turmoil and incoming students feeling even more pressure as they struggle to pick the right course.

A Lost History Pieced Together

Records destroyed in a fire at the Four Courts nearly a century ago, and believed to be lost to the world have been reconstructed, the result of almost four decades of work by historians at Trinity College Dublin. The documents, from the medieval Chancery of Ireland have been made available to the public through a web project – CIRCLE: a Calendar of Irish Chancery Letters c. 1244-1509. A paper database of all references to known Chancery letters was established early on and using substitute sources from around the world, in combination with a keystone, the 1828 Latin Calender published by the record commissioners and containing a guide to the contents of original chancery rolls. The Chancery in Ireland was established soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169 and issued letters in the King’s name, bearing the seal of Ireland. Copies of these letters were transcribed onto parchment known as chancery rolls and stored away. However in 1922, a blaze whose cause is still unknown destroyed the records, which were thought to be lost forever.

Between the 28th of June and July 5th, a week of street fighting raged throughout the Irish capital. Furious at the acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, recently ratified by Dáil Éireann, around 200 anti-Treaty IRA members occupied the Four Courts in Dublin on the 14th of April, led by Rory O’Connor. Thousands of British troops remained in the city, awaiting evacuation under the terms of the Treaty. O’Connor and his Irregular (as they were also known) followers wished to reignite the conflict with the British thereby reuniting both factions of the IRA (which had split over the Treaty), going on to fight for a 32 county Republic.

However, those who occupied the Four Courts had miscalculated. If those leaders at the helm were to transform the Free State into a true and self-governing state, then it was they who had to shoulder the responsibility of putting down the rebellion. The death of Sir Henry Wilson in London at the hands of two IRA men on the 22nd of June brought British pressure to bear on the provisional Irish government to take action against the garrison in the Four Courts. Four days later, Free State General J.J. O’Connell was kidnapped by the anti-Treaty troops at the Four Courts and it was decided to move against the agitators. An offer of weapons support by Winston Churchill was accepted by Michael Collins and two 18 pounder field guns were placed across the Liffey from the Four Courts. After one final ultimatum, the bombardment began on the 28th. Between Free State troops attacks and the incessant shelling, the Irregulars began losing men to injury, death and arrest. Early on the 30th, Ernie O’Malley had taken command of the Four Courts following Paddy O’Brien’s shrapnel injury. Word filtered through from Oscar Traynor, the anti-Treaty IRA commander in Dublin, that he couldn’t reach their position to assist, and ordered the garrison there to surrender. At 3.30pm, O’Malley officially surrendered to Brigadier General Paddy Daly of the Free State Dublin Guard.

By this stage, the Four Courts was ablaze. Several hours prior to the surrender, between 11am and 3pm, the Irish Public Records Office, located in the western block of the Four Courts, was destroyed. The office, which had been in use by the Irregulars as an ammunitions store was part of a huge explosion and a thousand years of Irish history was turned to ash, scattered by the wind across the Dublin skyline. Accusations have flown around regarding the cause of the explosion and the subsequent destruction. In fortifying the Four Courts before the bombardment began, the anti-Treaty forces mined the complex. It has been alleged by some that the Public Records Office was also deliberately booby-trapped, causing the explosion. Seán Lemass, future Taoiseach, among other anti-Treaty supporters, vehemently denied this. The insurgents maintained it was Free State shelling which ultimately destroyed the priceless archive.

Following the clearing of O’Connell Street, victory in Dublin meant that the Free State army could move out around the country, and crushed resistance by anti-Treaty forces. Major towns were taken and even the use of guerrilla warfare, so effective when presided over by Michael Collins, could not save the Republican side. By early 1923, the anti-Treaty IRA’s capability to launch offensive operations was seriously damaged. Republican Liam Deasy called on his compatriots to lay down their arms and when Liam Lynch, the IRA leader, was killed in action and replaced by the more realist Frank Aiken, the 30th of April saw a ceasefire and the ending of Civil War.

The effects of the Irish Civil War have resonated through the decades in Ireland and not just in terms of our records and history. The death of Michael Collins not only cost Ireland an invaluable and promising leader, but it also ensured hostilities between both sides sharpened, and bitterly. With all of the damage caused by the Civil War, the fledgling state ended 1923 with a budget deficit of £4 million. Being unable to pay their share of Imperial debt as per the Treaty led to an adverse effect on the Boundary Commission of 1924, which left the border unchanged, instead of reducing its size as promised, weakening the North and making a union with the South inevitable. And a bitterness has resided in Ireland since the early 1920s. Families and localities during the Civil War were often divided by their loyalties to the Free State or the Irregulars, and those decisions were carried for decades. Up until last year, the two biggest parties in the country were Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, direct descendants of the two warring forces during the Civil War. Politicians during the following four or five decades were more often than not veterans of the conflict. And when their children entered the political arena, a second and third generation of bitterness continued to permeate the Irish political landscape. While in the North, no one can deny the impact of the IRA up there, who could claim ancestry to the breakaway anti-Treaty IRA of the 1920s and who dedicated themselves to ridding Northern Ireland of British rule in 1948.

Political fighting, deep and bitter, has been a hallmark of Ireland since we won our independence all those decades ago. And the years that have passed by since then have seen little change. Had the country seen a unified stance on the Treaty, in recognition of the bigger picture, things might be very different today. Some lessons, it seems, are never learned.

Stargazing in Dublin: A Taster for the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Alongside the film offerings, The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival will be hosting an exhibition of film photographs curated by Sheamus Smith (Ireland’s Film Classifier 1986-2003) from a variety of archive sources (including his own collection). The festival organisers have taken over empty shop units on the top floor of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre for the starry exhibition, which will run throughout February.

Smith took photographs of visiting film stars as a young press photographer back in the 1950s. It must all seem a long time ago to him now but the magic of the Hollywood stars lingers on in these pictures. Sheamus Smith wrote in the introduction to the JDIFF brochure that ‘Since my earliest childhood memories of the cinema in my home town of Ballaghaderreen, the big screen has played a major part in my life and career’. He was invited by Gráinne Humphreys, the director of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival to put together the celebratory exhibition that complements the film festival.

The shots of star visitors to Dublin are a veritable cinematic who’s who of the past sixty years: James Cagney, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor to name but a few. It is true that the exhibition also includes such modern stars as Colin Farrell, U2 and Colin Firth. For me however, the golden oldies of the silver screen oozed star quality that today’s celebrities have not yet acquired.

The pictures are great as a trawl through cinema history but they also offer snippets of social history too. There is a lovely picture of Jimmy Stewart (one of my all time favourites stars) buying a newspaper from a street vendor on O’Connell Street. The photograph was dated ‘1960s’ and you can make out headlines about an attempted bank heist from the paper that Stewart is buying. There was also a picture of Laurel and Hardy visiting what looked like a children’s hospital in the 1950s. They were pictured with two young children on crutches and a nurse who just managed to get in the shot. I wonder whether the two small children knew who their film star visitors were.

I was amused by a shot of Michael Caine and Julie Walters who filmed Educating Rita at Trinity College. All you can see in the background is a rather large golfing umbrella and not a single glimpse of the historic buildings of TCD. Not one for the tourist posters perhaps, indicating as it does that they had a rather wet visit, but a lovely portrait of the actors nevertheless.

The exhibition is not a large one (around a hundred pictures in both colour and black and white) but it is well worth a look. Take a break from shopping or pay a lunchtime visit and pick up a festival brochure at the same time.

The exhibition continues until 26 February, in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.

The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival runs 16th – 26th February, various venues.

The Necessity for Universal Freedom of Speech

“Ignorant free speech often works against the speaker,” argued Anna Quindlen. “That is one of several reasons why it must be given rein instead of suppressed.”

The issue of free speech has been rearing its controversial head in recent weeks and months, particularly in relation to college societies and their invitations to some rather dubious figures. Trinity College, for example, invited British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, to speak at a debate before Christmas. Rather unsurprisingly, the invitation was withdrawn soon after, on the basis of student safety and security. Not long after, Griffin was again invited to speak at an Irish university, this time at University College Cork. And, several days ago, the invitation was once again withdrawn, for the same reasons given as before.

There are two main sides to the arguments these events have spawned. The first deals, unsurprisingly, with free speech, arguing that preventing Griffin from taking the opportunity to voice his opinions to the masses goes against everything the liberal college of UCC believes in, and that they are merely hiding behind other excuses. Many who would put forward this argument believe that free speech is universal. To paraphrase Kevin Myer’s writing in the Irish Independent, free speech does not have limits, it tolerates ideas that are both intellectual and inane, agreeable and offensive. The other would set limits on the freedom of speech and deny controversial topics a public platform, deeming Griffin’s policies and ideals to be too offensive for public consumption. Should Griffin be allowed to hold forth in front of the Irish people, the message of the BNP would be spread around the country, and we would all surely become fascists, to take the more extreme of these arguments. Such people would argue that to withdraw an invitation to speak does not constitute prevention to speak freely, rather, merely withdrawing a platform from which to speak.

And clearly, both of these arguments have their merits. If one does believe in the concept of free speech then one must believe in free speech without limitations. If constraints are placed upon the concept, disallowing certain topics from being discussed outside of closed doors, or, indeed, ever, then it isn’t really free speech at all. Then again, no one is preventing Griffin from talking, merely on a large platform. There is a difference between a privilege and a right, and speaking from a podium does not fall into the latter category. That prevention, however, is in the end, a bad idea.

Hiding such people away from us is pointless. Are the people of Ireland really such morons that, if we hear a differing opinion to the one we already hold, we will immediately turn to the new idea, substituting it for our own? Or have we some measure of intelligence, that we can hear preposterous and thinly veiled racist arguments and recognise them for what they are? In 2008, noted and perhaps infamous historian, David Irving, appeared on the Late Late Show, to discuss his life and ideas. Irving specialises in military and political history during World War II, the Third Reich in particular. He is best known for his fascist beliefs, and, more so, his denial of the Holocaust and his sympathy towards Hitler’s role in the process. Irving’s appearance and views were broadcast to millions across the country. Was there a sudden outpouring of sympathy and understanding for the man? Or did we, as intelligent people, examine his argument, compare it with the facts, and duly note its ignorance? Interestingly, as Irving revealed at the beginning of the interview, he regarded the removal of his invitation to speak at a debate on free speech in UCC, due to take place shortly after the interview, as a victory for himself and his ideals, showing him that there was nobody capable of successfully debating against his position. One can imagine Nick Griffin also taking heart from Trinity and UCC’s rejections.

In preventing Griffin from speaking, in both Trinity and Cork, there is only one clear winner; Nick Griffin. Instead of presenting the Irish public with a chance to see his ideas systematically debunked, he can instead gain a degree more of credibility, especially amongst his own supporters and those who might be inclined to support him; to them now he is once again a victim of the ‘left’ who seek to shut him up. If the public do not get a chance to hear the ignorance, how can we be expected to understand it is ignorant?