Tuesday 6 December 2022

A new song called 'Darkness', sung by Shannon Marie Harney


Well, yes, since you ask - with this song, I do know where the ideas came from...


1.  I was listening to singer, Shannon Marie Harney, and thinking about writing a new song that would respond to her strengths.

So, reaching into the song bag, I found and wrote 'Darkness'.

And this time, for a number of reasons...  Setting the text to music...  I did it myself - I heard, emerging from the text, a waltz...

At this point this note on my blog becomes over-complicated - I will leave the complications in place, below, for people who like that sort of thing...

Others can waltz...


2.  Certainly we had been thinking about the Great American Songbook - and those songs which, when you analyse them and sing them, have a tiny, pared down, lyric.  Like a nursery rhyme.

A thimbleful.  Dark matter, compacted by gravity.

The heavy lifting is left to the performer, to the performance, to the music and the arrangement.

Also interesting is the power of repetition, and reprise.  On the page my lyric, 'Darkness', looks like 3 identical stanzas, times 2.  It would be easy to end up with the same melody times 6.

That is not what the lyric wanted.  Lines are repeated, yes, but at each repeat the meaning of the words change.  Choreograph that, in waltz time.


3.  The first line of the song comes from a play by Samuel Beckett.

This is not 'Godot, the Musical' - though there is a moment in the 'Godot' play where we expect Didi and Gogo to launch into 'The Trail of the Lonesome Pine'.

No, different play.

For reasons which I will not go into here, we are interested in translation - we are in an age of translation.  We are interested in the work of translators and interpreters.  I have written about this elsewhere, and can return to that theme at a later date.

Academic 'Translation Studies' has become very complex - and now includes a special category, 'self-translators'...  Writers who translate their own work from one language to another.  Amongst the list of famous names - a surprising number of them are Nobel Prize winners - we always find Samuel Beckett.

The first line of my lyric comes from the Beckett play that is called, in French, 'Fin de partie', and in English - Beckett's translation - 'Endgame'.  So, has the meaning changed?  The French, end of a game, becomes the English, endgame, the much analysed part of the game of chess that comes before the end?

Towards the end of 'Fin de partie'/ 'Endgame' the main character, Hamm, remembers a poem.  He half-remembers a poem, and then corrects himself.  He half-remembers a very famous French poem...

Now we have a section where text talks to text, soul to soul.


4.  Fin de partie/Endgame

Fin de partie Samuel Beckett


Un peu de poésie .

( Un temps )

Tu appelais

( Un temps.)

(Il se corrige) ...

TU RECLAMAIS le soir;  il vient

( Un temps.)

(Il se corrige) ...

IL DESCEND:  le voici

( Un temps.)

Joli ca.


Endgame Samuel Beckett



A little poetry.


 You prayed—

(Pause. He corrects himself.)

 You CRIED for night; it comes—

 (Pause. He corrects himself.)

 It FALLS: now cry in darkness.

 (He repeats, chanting.)

 You cried for night; it falls: now cry in darkness.


 Nicely put, that.


 And now?



(Note:  the French text here is from a secondary source.  I need to check it.)


5.  The half-remembered poem is by Charles Baudelaire, from Flowers of Evil, 1857.  It is called Recueillement, and these are the first 4 lines...



Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.

Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:

Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,

Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.

You will find tons of comment online, in many languages - and I have excised from this note most of my own comment.  In English the title is usually translated as 'Meditation'.

We can explore the suggestion that the language of the poem hints that the poet is talking to 'Douleur', Sorrow, Sadness, as if she were a lover.  Or a recalcitrant child. 

The poem takes us on a walk, from 'Soir' to 'Nuit' - and one issue in translation is how to translate 'Soir' in line 2.  Be still, my O Level French...

Roy Campbell, 1952, goes with 'Dusk.  'Evening', Robert Lowell, 1963.  'Night', Cyril Scott, 1909.

Beckett - or is it Hamm? - has 'Soir' in his French text.  And 'Night' in his English.

You CRIED for night - what are you going to do with it?  'Now cry in darkness'.


6.  And my lyric begins:  'You can cry, in the darkness...'

Dark matter, compacted by gravity...


See also....

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

(English Standard Version)

For everything there is a season...

...a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance...

and Brecht in exile...

In den finsteren Zeiten

Wird da auch gesungen werden?

Da wird auch gesungen werden. Von den finsteren Zeiten. 

(From the Svendborg Poems, published in 1939)

[In the days of darkness

Will there be singing then too?

There will be singing then too. About the days of darkness.

(Translation by Sheila Taylor)]



Now, for goodness sake, do not tell any of this to Shannon Marie Harney... 

Just let her sing...

Darkness, Shannon Marie Harney

On Spotify 


On YouTube 


And on every other platform...

Patrick O'Sullivan

December 2022

Monday 5 December 2022

Autoharp Advent Calendar: Foster & Cooper, When the Bowl goes round

 UK Autoharps have invented a new tradition, the Autoharp Advent Calendar...

1.  During the winter lockdown of 2021-2022 our collective organised our first long distance Autoharp Advent Calendar - a number of us sent in a songs, with video, for display, one a day, on the run-up to Christmas 2021.

I was then in a struggle with health, but was determined to contribute.  My video from Christmas 2021 is still there - you can see me, lashed to my horse, like Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid, defending Valencia...

...singing Stephen Foster 'Hard Times'...

Video link



2.  It helped that I knew the song.  I knew the song from Cathy Britell's 2012, lovely long distance, project...  I participated in that project in 2012, alongside Jan Brodie and Stephanie Hladowski, and the autoharp world...

Cathy Brittell wrote...  'In the winter of 2012, a group of friends (many of whom have never met) who share membership on an international autoharp mailing list, cyberpluckers, decided to reach across cyberspace and play and sing a song together.  There is nothing quite as wonderful as making music with others, whether in person or in the ether.'

And her 2012 video is still visible...

Hard Times Come Again No More - The Cyberpluckerpotluck

Catherine Britell



3.  My thanks to Danny Yates, who propped me up, and pointed a camera in 2021

This year Danny has helped me get another Stephen Foster number ready.  Back on the horse.

I suppose that there is here the makings of a further tradition.  There is a relationship between the autoharp communities and the work of Stephen Foster - I won't go into all the detail here, but it can be a problematic relationship...

Foster's work is autoharp friendly - and the autoharp and Stephen Foster, at one time, shared an ecological niche, the nineteenth century parlour...

In our own time, studying and playing the works of Stephen Foster has become just...  easy...

First, there is the Stephen Foster Collection at the University of Pittsburgh, much of it digitised and free to download...

'Sheet music, broadsides, songsters, music manuscripts, correspondence, business records, photographs, newspaper clippings, maps, iconography, Foster’s sketchbook, and other ephemera related to Stephen Foster and his family...'


There is also the Library of Congress - again much material is free to download...

Stephen Collins Foster: A Guide to Resources

'Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864) was the most famous American song composer of the 19th century. This guide provides links to resources at the Library of Congress, including a large collection of published first editions.'


The availability of the sheet music at Pittsburgh and LOC means that you can check other online versions of Foster's works, and correct the texts, if need be...


4.  For the UK Autoharps Advent Calendar 2022 I have offered, from the Stephen Foster archives, the justly neglected 'When the bowl goes round'.

The Lyric is by George Cooper, Stephen Foster's collaborator - Cooper is not as good a lyricist as Stephen Foster.  Melody is by Stephen Foster.

The song is Christmassy, I think - the bowl must be the Wassail bowl.  Cooper and Foster wrote drinking songs and temperance songs, as the market demanded.  In this song they seem to have confused the two categories - as a drinking song it demands, from the singer, extreme sobriety.  The lyric is chewy, and full of the archaisms that nineteenth century lyricists and audiences loved - it describes itself as 'the jocund song'.  I had a few goes at singing it - then Danny Yates and I decided that, try as I might, my version was never going to be more than adequate...

As for correcting the text...  You can see that the title page has 'When the bowl goes round' - while the verses as published have 'While the bowl goes round'...


I think that 'When' is better than 'While', and that is what I sing throughout. 

(There is the oddity that in some regional varieties of English the word 'While' can mean 'Until'.  Which...

'...reminds me of the possibly apocryphal tale about the first automatic level crossings in the Midlands - where the sign "Wait here while the lights are flashing" supposedly caused a string of near-fatalities...'


But I digress...)

So, here is, 'When the Bowl goes round', Stephen Foster and George Cooper

Video link


My contribution to the UK Autoharps Advent Calendar 2022...


Patrick O'Sullivan

December 2022

Further Note January 2023

Thinking further about this song, Foster & Cooper, 'When the Bowl goes round...'  And that strange phrase 'jolly fellows' in the chorus...  I have come across a book by Richard Stott...

Stott, R. (2009) Jolly Fellows: Male Milieus in Nineteenth-Century America. Johns Hopkins University Press (Gender Relations in the America). 

...which is a study, page 1, of 'a distinctive male comportment that consisted of not just fighting but also heavy drinking, gambling and playing pranks. Men who engaged in such behavior were called “jolly fellows.” Although the jolly fellows were a subset of the male population, whenever men, especially young men, gathered in milieus that were all male or where women were rare, such conduct could occur. Such behavior was tolerated, even condoned, by men who were not themselves drinkers, fighters, or gamblers...'

It is worth searching for Richard Stott's book - because I found it Open Access.  It is readily available.

Richard Stott does not seem to have been aware of this particular Stephen Foster song when he wrote his book, and picked its title.  It seems that Stephen Foster and George Cooper, writing in the 1860s, found that phrase still there in the ether.  And maybe by then - Richard Stott, the cultural historian, suggests - the age of the 'jolly fellows' was over...

I find myself putting the, 'jolly fellows', from this Foster song, alongside the 'boon companions' of 'Comrades, fill no glass...', the second Foster song I prepared for Christmas 2022.  See my note on 'Comrades', further up/later in this blog.



Tuesday 1 November 2022

New Yorker magazine and the 'Irish short story'

In my note on the BBC at 100 Symposium - in an aside - I suggested a possible study of the influence of New Yorker magazine on the 'Irish short story' in the twentieth century...


See now an article by Nora Shaalan, in the online journal Public Books, a digital humanities approach.  This New Yorker interest in short stories from Ireland/of Ireland has already been noted by, for example,  Ben Yagoda...

Yagoda, B. (2001) About Town: The New Yorker and The World It Made. Da Capo Press.

Nora Shaalan puts some figures on that.

My suggestion is that New Yorker magazine also shaped, from a distance, stories that did NOT make it into the magazine...



The View from the Fiction of the “New Yorker”


Digital Humanities

By Nora Shaalan


... At the magazine’s inception, in 1925, the fiction section was a hybrid of different genres, including miscellaneous pieces that straddle the line between prose, verse, and visual art. The section only began to cohere circa 1945. Around the same time, the magazine began to regularly publish fiction by a small subset of authors. Between 1945 and 2019, the magazine published 7,451 stories by 1,493 different authors, but 4,398 of these stories (more than 66 percent of them) were written by just 149 authors (less than 10 percent of the total pool).4 Many of these 149 authors have become synonymous with the magazine, and their work has come to define a dynamic New Yorker fiction tone and style, characterized by ironic detachment and a meticulous, if somewhat overbearing, attention to facticity...

... Many of the countries that score relatively high in both metrics are the usual suspects—the United Kingdom, France, Italy—with one exception. There is an outlier that has a relatively high diversity score and that outperforms the United States in the granularity measure: Ireland. A former colony, whose landmass and population are significantly smaller than those of the United States, Ireland boasts a granularity score of 1.875. The country is mentioned using 77 unique locations, placing it in the top five most diverse countries in the corpus. There are many plausible reasons why evocations of Ireland are both diverse and granular, but one striking detail stands out. Of the 176 stories that mention Ireland, 135 are by Irish writers—the likes of Edna O’Brien, Roddy Doyle, and William Trevor.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

The BBC at 100 Symposium

The BBC at 100 Symposium

Date / time:  13 September - 15 September, 2022

Location:  National Science & Media Museum (and online)

We have, here next week, in Bradford, Yorkshire, not far from my home, The BBC at 100 Symposium...

I am presenting a paper at the Symposium on a Diaspora Studies approach to the history of the BBC (that is already there in the research literature) - I think that the approach has to be fairly broad brush, but I want to zoom in on the life and work of Denis Johnston, whose 1953 memoir, Nine Rivers from Jordan, about his years as a BBC War Correspondent, is his ungainly masterpiece.  But the book only really makes sense with the sideways look of diaspora studies.

I also want to start a discussion about the short story for radio - which is part of the study of the study of technologies and art forms, including technologies of the word.  And the ways that markets shape art forms - the BBC radio market for Irish short stories can be compared with, for example, the New Yorker magazine market for Irish short stories.  Very different markets, different technologies - how do they shape that Irish short story tradition?

And I am chairing a session on the BBC and the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'.  It turns out that one way to track the research literature through my database is to search for just one word:  'oxygen'. 




BRIEF REPORT September 20

See background...




A quick report might help put things on the agenda...

Marcus Collins, the organiser, stressed that it was a Symposium, not a Conference - and that it was 'a gathering of the tribes'.

So, the full weight of the BBC history community was there, and - as we know - these things can be clannish, and indeed tribal.  But I am already known to the community, have been to events (Before Covid), know the vocabulary and the preoccupations...  It was a hybrid event, was affected by illnesses - the technology mostly worked.  There had to be a lot of thinking on feet.  Not sure that the Symposium idea worked - a lot of sharing of truisms.  But I can see what was aimed at...

Certainly the gathering of the tribes worked - I think that everyone appreciated the opportunity to have, at last, face to face informal conversations.  We moved things forward.

1.  On Wednesday, 14th, I gave a presentation on Denis Johnston, a Diaspora Studies approach, focussing on his time as War Correspondent for the BBC, and his memoir...

Johnston, D. (1953) Nine Rivers from Jordan: The Chronicle of a Journey and a Search. London: Derek Verschoyle.

Johnston, D. (1955) Nine Rivers from Jordan: The Chronicle of a Journey and a Search. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

You may know the background, but, in essence, all debate, about neutrality, balance, guns, ends when he reaches Buchenwald concentration camp - and, just the way the session panned out, I was able to cover most of the ground and give a reading from the book...

It worked with the audience.  For example, the detail that the American edition differs from the first British edition.  Different ending.  The international audience could see a bear trap avoided.

2.  On Thursday, 15th, I chaired a session on the BBC and Northern Ireland.  I had Robert Savage and Mark Devenport as talking heads, on the big screen above me, and Jean Seaton, Craig Murray and Ella Roberts on the stage beside me.

The names that will be new here are Craig Murray, Imperial War Museum - who is curator of the looming Northern Ireland exhibition - and Ella Roberts - who is a phd student looking at BBC series about Ireland.

(I have shared my notes about the Irish Empire tv series with Ella Roberts.)

3.  I repeatedly flagged my relationship with London Metropolitan University - I think the video recordings of the Symposium will be made available in due course, so we can all critique my performance.

Thinking about the short story...  Let me leave a note here.  As I say - looking at the market forces shaping the 'Irish short story'...  Two major forces are BBC radio and New Yorker magazine - pulling in different directions, of course.  With the work that has been done on the New Yorker online, we could do something quantifiable.  Similar, but more difficult, with the BBC - bit of a gap there.

At the Symposium I was able to develop the notion of a Diaspora Studies approach to the history of the BBC - the Denis Johnston presentation laid some of the ground rules.  I liaised with people studying Jews, Italians, Germans + BBC, and so on.  A  lot on the BBC World Service, which will be of interest to colleagues at London Metropolitan University.  In the background, there is some work on Irish + BBC, which is complex but not over-complex, different but not that different.

It would not be great task to write the bibliographic discussion paper, a Diaspora Studies approach to the history of the BBC, what has been done so far, integrating strands, rewards and fairies.  As I say, complex, but not over-complex.

Patrick O'Sullivan


Saturday 27 August 2022

Shabby Dress, sung by Shannon Marie Harney

Shabby Dress, sung by Shannon Marie Harney

Now working with Bradford-based torch singer Shannon Marie Harney.  Shannon Marie is new to our repertoire.  But she is determined.

We have started with a song whose needs we understand, an old song...

Here is Shannon Marie and Shabby Dress on YouTube...

Video link


And here on Soundcloud...


A song with its own history... 

And I will give some of that history here, omitting detail that might embarrass the living, or the dead.



The anecdotal lecture about this song can be long - and even longer if we include the musical interludes...  But, in my defence, that is maybe what a song lyric should be - distillation...

The lyric is in the book, Love Death and Whiskey - pages 48-49.


If you put 'Terry Jones Shabby Dress' into your favourite search engine, you find this...


'Love Death & Whisky 40 songs by Patrick O'Sullivan is a great way in for those nervous of poetry. Shabby Dress - great song lyric of our time

10:06 AM · Aug 29, 2011·Twitter Web Client'

Terry had long been a supporter of my lyric writing.  When, in the 1970s, we first put a band together, he offered financial support - Terry's management company paid for recording studio time, with André Jacquemin at Redwood...


...and paid for The Van.  This, for me, was induction into the Cult of The Van, and other odd aspects of the life of working musicians.  Really, we did not know what we were doing - and did not know what we wanted to do.  When the danger arose that looking after The Van might become my full time job, I decided enough was enough.

Looking back, I can hope that nowadays I have a  better understanding of what was going on.  I can lecture, and I can quote...  Christopher Small, on 'Musicking', Ruth Finnegan, on the 'Hidden Musicians'.  David Hesmondhalgh's critique.  I can quote Ted Gioia.

For Christopher Small, music is a verb, not a  noun.  'Musicking' is something that people do...



In the 1970s and 1980s I had become a minor poet of the late twentieth century - and the horrors of that experience can become the basis of another anecdotal lecture.  But the main lesson from the experience was simple, and became a mantra:  If you are going to write for performance, you might as well write for performers.  So, song lyrics...

In the 1970s, at a difficult time in my life, my friend, Leslie Megahey, put me in a car and took me across Spain...  Pause here, for anecdotal comedy.

In Madrid I met Leslie's friends, Esperanza and Sidney Malkin.  Sidney was a large, Hemingwayesque character.  As a US Marine he had invaded Sicily.  In Spain he led a complex, not quite controlled, existence.  He leased the shooting rights of several villages in the mountains to the north of Madrid, and he organised hunting parties for visiting Americans.  Special guests would be taken to shoot bustard.  In Esperanza's distinctive English this became 'persecuting the bustard...'  It was impossible not to fall in love with Esperanza...

I spent some days in the mountains with Sydney, and his gamekeepers, watching the persecution of the bustards.  Nevertheless...  Sydney and I got on, and we became friends.

Sidney had lived in Paris for a long time, and he had in Madrid his French record collection.  So, it was in the apartment of Sidney and Esperanza Malkin, in Madrid, that I first heard the distilled essence of French song, Barbara.

Vinyl rotating.



Nowadays, we can search online for Monique Andrée Serf, stage name Barbara...  And that song, La Solitude, that I heard for the first time in Madrid...

Here she is on YouTube...


And here are the words...



My song, Shabby Dress, references La Solitude.  I have made it at home in the English language, more structured, more technical, less fierce...

Loneliness rather than the French, Solitude.

In Shannon Marie's version of my lyric we do get the feeling that the ghost, the reflection, the memory, whatever it is - at least it can be depended on.  A reliable ghost...


We could dedicate this song to Monique Andrée Serf, Barbara.  I could dedicate it to Sidney Malkin, or to Esperanza.  Or to Leslie Megahey.  And they are there in the story...

Terry Jones remained a supporter of my work, and a good friend.  This was before the public appearance of Terry Jones, the writer for children, and the scholar of medieval literature - whose scholarship was at first sneered at, and is now revered.

So, in the background are long, garrulous, lubricated, conversations about kinds of writing, and how they work.  The lyric, Shabby Dress, is a nice, technical, piece of writing - that is one of the things I like about it.  Terry Jones understood that.

When at last I got round to publishing that little book of my lyrics, in 2010, I sent a copy to Terry - as a thank you.  And he told me how much he enjoyed reading the lyrics aloud, as poetry.  Especially Shabby Dress.

So, alongside the composer, Adrian Long, who set the lyric - and alongside our companions and memories of those days - let us dedicate the song to Terry Jones...


Now, for goodness sake, do not tell any of this to Shannon Marie Harney...  

Just let her sing...


Patrick O'Sullivan

August 2022



Thursday 30 June 2022

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship...

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs.  Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy.

These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him to great expense.

Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors.

In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance-money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales...

I have made the line of thought more visible with line breaks.  But that is the opening paragraph of William K. Clifford's essay THE ETHICS OF BELIEF, first published in 1877.

Links to the text and to other material, pasted in below...

If our starting point is Irish Diaspora Studies - and today it is - I think that it is difficult to read that paragraph without thinking of the discourse of the emigrant ship, of the Irish Famine migrations, and, of course, the 'Coffin Ships', now enshrined in song and sculpture.  All the elements are there, the Emigrant Ship, the unhappy families leaving their 'fatherland' to seek better times, exiles...  Ungenerous suspicions.  No tales told...

I will not unpack here my own line of thought, which can appear a bit complex - but, for me, is fairly simple.  One of the things that first interested me about Irish Diaspora Studies was the notion that we had an ideal case study of the nature of knowledge - the ways in which knowledge is created, is used, and earns its living.  When I first started developing that line of thought, I fell among philosophers.  Yes, yes, I know, but some of my best friends... 

And it was suggested to me that what I was doing belonged in the sub-section of philosophy called epistemology, the creation of knowledge.  In fact I would argue that that is not correct - I think that what I do is something else, not epistemology.  But I must accept the steer, from my friends, and explore the suggestion.  And I have become interested recently in epistemology's evil twin, what we are learning to call agnotology, the creation of ignorance.

As have we all.

I recently found myself reading Scott Aikin on the Straw Man...  We have plenty of straw persons in Irish Diaspora Studies.  And this led me back to that cluster of questions - called 'the ethics of belief', after Clifford's title - where epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology, meet.  And back to my meditations on the founding text, Clifford's 1877 essay.  

And the Emigrant Ship.

In discussion of Clifford's essay, the detail that Clifford himself had experienced a shipwreck is mentioned, but is usually - and probably rightly - discarded as irrelevant.  Clifford, himself, describes the wreck of the survey ship, Psyche, 1870, as 'comfortably managed...'  

Discussion of Clifford's essay also tends to discard, without comment, the detail that he is describing an Emigrant Ship.  And, I think, had in mind the discourses around the Irish Famine migrations.

Now, how could we unpack that?

Patrick O'Sullivan

June 2022


1  William K. Clifford,



Originally published in Contemporary Review, 1877; reprinted in William K. Clifford, Lectures and Essays, ed. Leslie Stephen and Frederick Pollock (London: Macmillan and Co., 1886). The author (1845–1879) was an English mathematician

2  In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Clifford's shipowner and his Emigrant Ship become a 'shipowner who, once upon a time, was inclined to sell tickets for a transatlantic voyage...'


The Ethics of Belief

First published Mon Jun 14, 2010; substantive revision Mon Mar 5, 2018

The “ethics of belief” refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and psychology.

3 Two useful books...

Chisholm, M. (2002) Such Silver Currents: The Story of William and Lucy Clifford, 1845-1929. 1st edn. The Lutterworth Press. doi: 10.2307/j.ctv1pdrr4p.

Madigan, T. (2008) W.K. Clifford and ‘The ethics of belief’. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.

4 Scott Aikin and colleagues on the Straw Man - plenty to find out there.  See for example...

Aikin, S. and Casey, J. (2022) Straw Man Arguments: A Study in Fallacy Theory. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

5  Searching for 'The wreck of the Psyche' will take you to many strange places.  But, staying with the survey ship, 'Psyche'...  The best account of the wreck I have found is in Science and Controversy, A Biography of Sir Norman Lockyer, Founder Editor of Nature By A. Meadows, 2016.

Pasted in below, photo from The Correspondence of Charles Darwin: Volume 18, 1870, by Charles Darwin, Frederick Burkhardt, Sydney Smith, Cambridge University Press, 1985...


Monday 20 June 2022

It has been a quiet day in Irish Diaspora Studies...

We still have alerts in place - left over from the time of the Irish Diaspora List (see my notes about the Ir-D List, somewhere below).

So, we still monitor items of interest to Irish Diaspora Studies, books, articles, lectures, exhibitions, conferences, as they appear in the media - and some items I can share with Irish Diaspora Studies colleagues...

In recent years, of course, in the background, we have been negotiating Irish History's Decade of Centenaries.  There has been much to mull over.

Today alerts came in as usual - and, on one day, I shared these three links with colleagues... 

We see...  Decisions within the diaspora affecting the course of Irish History...  Creativity re-shaping an identity for independent Ireland - disparaged women's work re-shaping identity...  Independent Ireland still tidying up its untidy legislative legacy, proving of interest to the investigative journalists at Bellingcat....  And structures for three discussions within Irish Diaspora Studies.


London assassination a landmark in Irish history


The gunning down of a British army officer had far-reaching consequences for Ireland

This article by Ronan McGreevy concludes...

'The Wilson shooting was Ireland’s Sarajevo moment. Without it, there would have been no British ultimatum, no shelling of the Four Courts, no Civil War. Michael Collins would have lived, and the history of the new Irish state would have been different.

The impact of the Wilson assassination has been underestimated, because of the assumption that the Civil War would have happened anyway and his death only hastened the inevitable, but no war is inevitable.

From Collins’ perspective, Wilson was a dangerous enemy of Irish nationalism. Collins was in the visitors’ gallery of the House of Commons in late May 1922 when Wilson declared that the British government should have no hesitation in crossing the Border to secure order. Collins also held Wilson responsible for the “worse than Armenian atrocities” in Belfast.

Wilson had made enemies too within the British government. Yet Collins miscalculated the depth of unhappiness in Britain about the toleration afforded to the anti-Treaty side by the fledging Irish state.

The shots that killed Wilson would lead on exactly two months later to the shot that killed Collins at Béal na Bláth, leaving Ireland immeasurably the poorer for his passing.'

Ronan McGreevy is the author of ‘Great Hatred: the Assassination of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson MP’, published by Faber (€16.99). He is a former Irish Post journalist.


The forgotten ‘weird sisters’ of WB Yeats who helped forge Irish identity

Overlooked except for a scornful reference in Ulysses, Elizabeth and Lily ran a vibrant women-only arts and crafts enterprise


'...They ran an arts and craft enterprise, Cuala Press, from 1908 to 1940, but Elizabeth and Lily were chiefly known as the sisters of two famous brothers – the poet William Butler Yeats and the painter Jack Yeats. They lived in the shadow of their male siblings, and the jibe in Ulysses, before fading into obscurity...'

This Guardian article links to the emerging Cuala Press archive, visible on the TCD web site...

'The Cuala Press ceased operation in 1986, and in October that same year Anne and Michael Yeats presented the remaining business archive (IE TCD MS 11535) and printing equipment to the Library of Trinity College Dublin. The print collection (IE TCD MS 11574) was gifted to the Library by Vin Ryan of the Schooner Foundation in 2017. Funding provided by the Schooner Foundation in 2020/2021 has enabled the conservation, metadata creation, and digitisation of the Cuala Press collection.'




Inside the Secretive World of Irish Limited Partnerships

'In early June 2019, the Bitsane cryptocurrency platform was a hive of activity.

According to CoinMarketCap, a price-tracking website for crypto-assets, it had a trading volume worth $7 million a day. Bitsane itself boasted of users in over 200 countries.

Within a few weeks, however, the platform, its social media sites and the deposits of close to 250,000 registered users had vanished.

Bitsane customers took to social media, first to question whether there was a temporary issue, then to panic about their deposits, then to angrily compare losses.

Some had invested tens of thousands of dollars into a variety of cryptocurrencies that were offered on the platform.

But from one day to the next, all that was gone...'

'... What Exactly is an Irish Limited Partnership?

ILPs came into existence as part of the United Kingdom’s 1907 Limited Partnerships Act. At this time, Ireland was still a part of the UK.

The same act brought into existence Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs), a corporate vehicle exclusive to Scotland.  Bellingcat has previously produced a number of reports concerning the alleged misuse of SLPs after a series of high-profile money laundering schemes came to light...