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Uncovering Truth: An Extraordinary Irish Patriot

Updated on February 3, 2013

Gearoid O Sullivan: Man in the Shadows

You might recall that my novel is about Gearoid O Sullivan, child prodigy, Irish rebel, adjutant general during the Irish-Anglo War, staunch advocate for the preservation of a dying Irish culture and language, acerbic wit, political leader, teacher, scholar, barrister . . . and in the end, a sad and lonely figure forgotten by history and misrepresented by some fool over at Wikipedia.


Where It Began: The General Post Office In Dublin

In 1916, Gearoid fought beside leaders of the 1916 Irish 'Rising at Dublin's General Post Office (GPO), where Gearoid, youngest soldier at the GPO, was ordered, by the doomed leader/poet and scholar Padraig Pearse, to raise the Irish flag.
In 1916, Gearoid fought beside leaders of the 1916 Irish 'Rising at Dublin's General Post Office (GPO), where Gearoid, youngest soldier at the GPO, was ordered, by the doomed leader/poet and scholar Padraig Pearse, to raise the Irish flag.

Impatient Researcher Learns to Wait . . . and Wait Some More

Considering that the General Post Office in Dublin, repository of many historic records, was severely damaged in the 1916 Irish 'Rising, it's especially difficult for a researcher to discover historical information about a character as enigmatic as my ancestor, Gearoid O'Sullivan.

This challenge to gather information is compounded by a slower pace of life that seems to exist among the Irish citizenry, a pace at odds with the European-flavor that has overtaken much of the country. The cultural shift renders much of the country barely recognizable to the typical Irish-American or Irish-Canadian tourist, bearing sentimental visions along with his or her luggage as the plane taxis along the runways of Shannon or Dublin airports.

Gone are the cliched images of an Ireland where men sit in pubs, sipping warm ale and singing maudlin songs to commemorate injustice and deaths occurring decades and even centuries ago. Once a visitor enters more populous areas of Ireland, they're more likely to find nouvelle cuisine than beef stew; pop music or jazz instead of traditional folk songs.

Yet there is still a mystery about Ireland that a visitor will struggle to identify. Unlike the United States, which celebrates its independence with fireworks and flags on July 4th, it seems the Irish have only begun the process of retrieving the bones of old memories, and perhaps have a distance yet to travel before reconciling themselves and their connections to a troublesome past.

In the course of my research, I have discovered that many important sources in Ireland will allow long gaps in time to elapse before returning phone calls or e-mails; sometimes the promise of information and its actual delivery can take months. In one case, my quest for answers to disturbing questions will remain forever unanswered, one sad outcome of the tragic death of an important source, the Canadian historian and author Peter Hart. Hart was viewed by many in Ireland as a fabricator of information, and is now unable to answer for himself.

Survivor's Guilt?

As an American, and particularly as a former journalist trained to nail down the information and then write the story before deadline, this waiting can be a maddening thing. On the other hand, I now realize that these delays form an insulating barrier, protecting me just as they protect my sources. This barrier gives my sources time to think about how much they want to reveal. Often, a reversal of thought will become evident when information they previously denied knowing about is suddenly offered. In this way, I feel I am slowly earning their trust as I dive deeper into the history of Ireland and begin to understand the reality of the country. I have developed a more nuanced understanding of this land, which is much more complicated than a typical traveler from the vast Irish diaspora can possibly know.

A Country Caught in its History

I am learning that Ireland is a country deeply enmeshed in its own history. It's a country whose people are far more challenging to understand than common cliche has tricked many into believing. It is a land whose populace has clung stubbornly to a culture and to a system of traditions and beliefs, at one time mystifying and maddening the English "conquerors" who would attempt over 800 years to squelch their "strange ways."

This place has and perhaps always will inspire heated passions and provocative debate, whether amidst Ireland's citizenry and even from a distance, amongst the millions around the world who claim an Irish heritage.

Lingering Irish Guilt?

It occurs to me that there remains lingering shame among the Irish living in the Republic, which until recently enjoyed an economic boom. Perhaps it is survivor's guilt, stemming from their good fortune and from the knowledge that this fortune is based on a contract, the infamous Treaty with England that led to the partition of Ireland and cost many a leader his life, including Michael Collins, Erskine Childers, Harry Boland and Cathal Brugha. These leaders died not at the hands of the English, but during the Irish Civil War which erupted soon after the Treaty's signing.

So is it guilt that one senses? Is it the awareness of a wound which will not heal: the partition that created the 26-county Republic of Ireland and the six-county area within the Ulster Territory commonly referred to as "Northern Ireland," a British territory? That England might want to control the opposite coast of the Irish Sea, given its vulnerability to attack from open waters, probably made sense at some point, and given the state of the world today, may still make sense of sorts. But since the Clinton-era Good Friday peace accord, the English do not seem to be the problem plaguing Northern Ireland so much as the people themselves who call this place home. These are the Republicans and the Loyalists who - despite having more in common than they will concede - have dragged along their hostilities from generation to generation like an unbearable weight, trapping between them the multitude of Northern Ireland's citizenry who want nothing more than a normal, peaceful existence.

Even so, in some places the contrast is stark, as between the more prosperous Irish Republic and the ghetto areas of Northern Ireland. In the Republic, one can readily enjoy cultural events, art, and fine dining on par with the finest of any established European city; while in the north, a battle begun hundreds of years ago still rages, in areas that are at times breeding ground for mutual hatred and violence, mixed with that volatile combination of poverty and unemployment and anger bred of blatant discrimination. These circumstances are ripe for the seeds of hatred - and for fresh crops of young recruits to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who will join, act, get caught, and go to prison in an endless, fruitless circle. The IRA is not alone in this violence; the Loyalists, too, have their own militia. And so a condition the Irish and English euphemistically call "The Troubles" continues to flourish.

Yet it was the hope of some Treaty supporters that in creating a 26-county Free State, they could pursue laws and open the door wide to growth, to prosperity, to a national cultural revolution. In doing so, they hoped to put in place the stepping stones that might lead one day to a unified country. They envisioned the new "Free State" would prove so successful that the other six counties to the north would willingly come aboard. Or so thought such Treaty supporters as Michael Collins, leader of the Treaty delegation, who participated in negotiating sessions with England's Prime Minister Lloyd George and its former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Traveling with the negotiating party was Gearoid O Sullivan, who, enigmatic as ever, maintained his usual low profile.

Civil War Pits Brother Against Brother

Adding to the unease one senses in Ireland even today is the Irish Civil War that erupted directly after the Treaty's signing. This war pitted men who once, while vastly outnumbered and out-weaponed, fought side by side against the far superior English Army, and also the notorious "Black and Tans" - returned World War I soldiers brought in to supplement the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in policing the Irish people. The Black and Tans (so named because of their hastily pulled together uniforms of tan shirts and black pants) were hated for their harsh tactics toward the citizenry - including burning down houses, as they did the family homes of both Collins and O Sullivan. Later, a more elite force of solders would be brought in to bolster these policing efforts; they were truly frightening.

So fighting as they once did, side by side, brother to brother, and then fighting each other, rendered the Civil War perhaps the darkest period in Ireland's history. Families literally fought each other, as was the case of Gearoid and his younger brother Tadgh, the latter jailed by ministers of his brother's own political party.

Brash American Stumbles In

My first blunder, apparently, was jumping right into the conversation on an Irish forum to express shock over the tragic and sudden death of the historian/author Peter Hart. Unbeknownst to me during my nascent days as a researcher/novelist was the fact that Hart's best-selling biography, Mick: The Real Michael Collins, and especially his previous book, The IRA and Its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-1923, had ruffled quite a few Irish feathers.

I had only read Hart's first book, a biography of Michael Collins, which portrayed a national hero with clay feet, someone who managed to rise to the top by dint of opportunity, personality, cleverness, strategy and manipulation, and was then able to position himself as a leader of the reinvigorated and renamed Irish Republican Brotherhood's (IRB), who led the effort to rid Ireland of its unwanted English occupants. The IRB would ultimately become the Irish Republican Army and fight in the Anglo-Irish War (now called the War of Independence). This IRA is known as the "old IRA" to distinguish it from the IRA most people know today.

While the perceived attack by Hart on Ireland's bonafide national hero seemed maddening to the Irish people, it was his earlier IRA book, which sits amidst a pile of books I have yet to read, that provoked anger within the hearts of many an Irishman or woman. The biography rises from a foundation that most people would agree is more or less accurate: that the "War" was in fact a series of guerrilla attacks combined with a clever strategic campaign to position Ireland on the world stage as a "small country" victim to a larger bully. Hart would cite tactics used during the war as examples of Collins' clever use of political tools and PR manipulation to earn worldwide antipathy toward Ireland's enemy.

But what really set many an Irish Republican's blood boiling was the book's central premise: that between the 1916 revolt and 1923, the IRA deliberately targeted innocent people for execution-type killings and particularly chose as targets the small number of Protestants living in County Cork who were suspected spies. Furthermore, the book tramples the name of another national hero, Tom Barry, who led a military charge on an English convoy, something Hart alleges in his book was no more than a carefully planned ambush leading to the slaughter of defenseless English troops.

Hart Leaves Unanswered Questions for This Author

I will say two things of Hart: His book covered in exhaustive detail the life and times of Michael Collins, providing more information about the man than I have read to date (although another thick book, by the wonderfully gifted Irish newspaperman, historian and author Tim Patrick Coogan - who actually talked with key participants - awaits my attention). Mr. Coogan had every right to give up on this fumbling American out of touch with her ancestral homeland - a frustration common among Americans, which Coogan expresses in his excellent book, The IRA: A History, tracing the roots of the IRA from its inception to modern times. Yet despite this researcher's awkward first steps, Mr. Coogan has been exceedingly helpful, and has provided information that will surprise readers and certainly strengthen the content and substance of my book.

But to get back to Peter Hart, he is the first well-known author to express interest in my project; enthusiasm even, and he provided a great deal of information and suggestions. When I first spoke with him, he was going to give the matter some thought and then get back to me. I have no idea why he suddenly changed his mind and decided to talk then and there, but I am forever grateful that he changed his mind, providing tons of information during that first conversation, and following up with an e-mail suggesting other avenues of enquiry. Because sadly, he died not long after that, suddenly, at age 46, of a massive brain hemorrhage.

In death, Peter Hart has left me with many questions to which I will probably never learn the answers.

For instance, he referred to a hand-written journal written by Gearoid that he had stumbled across during his research, but could not remember where, precisely, he found it. He was going to give it some thought. I don't know If he ever did recall the location of this journal, but if he did, that is something I will never discover.

Hart also stated in his Collins book, that Gearoid was one of the assassins involved in Collins' group of "The Twelve Apostles," which in a single day eliminated England's spy network in Ireland. This is something I have not read anywhere else, and which Gearoid had once flatly denied. I hadn't thought to discuss it when I had Hart's attention. Now, of course, we won't be having that conversation.

These are matters to revisit at another time my friends.

Slainte!

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  • jonihnj profile image
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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    TALKING THE TALK

    Dia Duit!

    That's a standard greeting used by many practiced Gaeilge (Irish) speakers. It means "Hi," but as with all things Irish, controversy exists over its usage. I shall get to that in a moment.

    I have not yet started my Irish-language lessons as I'd hoped. There is a very good reason for that, even better than "My dog chewed it." I'll illustrate this reason by discussing how I would pronounce my Irish greeting were I to speak to one of my relatives in Ireland's Skibbereen area.

    But first, let's get to the controversy. "Dia Duit" is not altogether a thrilling option for a number of Irish speakers. It apparently has religious overtones they find disturbing. Since I have not yet studied the matter, I am blithely unaware of what these undertones might possibly be. But as a word to the wise, know that there is apparently some unhappiness over the use of this greeting and be careful. Be very careful. You know how those Irish can be!

    I can, however, tell you what has stalled my exploration of the Irish language, and that has to do with finding a class that will teach the particular Irish dialect I wish to learn.

    You see, the phrase "Dia Duit"is pronounced differently in various regions of Ireland. Indeed, if you set out to learn Irish, be careful to pick your regional dialect carefully and stick with the one dialect, because not only are the vocal sounds different, but so too, apparently, is the vocabulary used in the country's various regions.

    I would like to learn the Irish spoken in County Cork, which is my ancestral home. There, you would pronounce the greeting something like "Dee-ah gwitch." But if you lived closer to the English coast (that would be in the north), the greeting is pronounced "Gia ditch" or "Jia ditch" (or something close to that - hey, I'm not an Irish scholar yet!).

    How, you might ask, was this linguistic headache allowed to develop into such a migraine? Well, it seems that since the Irish language was mostly forbidden for nearly a thousand years of English occupation, the opportunity never arose for a nationally standardized version to develop. Thus, Irish dialects quietly (oh so very quietly) emerged according to region. And I'm serious about the quiet part. As you'll learn more about when you read my book that I swear I am going to finish, my protaganist can vouch for that. (By the way, he's my great-great cousin Gearoid - pronounced "Gah Roy-d" - actually, there could be another "great" or two in there, and perhaps a "once removed" too, for all I know). But Gearoid O'Sullivan is my grandfather's first cousin (and also cousin and best bud to the more famous Michael Collins). It was Gearoid who, at age 24, fought in the 1916 Easter 'Rising and who raised the Irish Tricolor over the General Post Office in Dublin during that ill-fated revolt.

    As Gearoid was one of the first students to earn a college degree in Celtic Studies throughout all of Ireland prior to the 'Rising, Irish was practically his first language. (Remember, there was a cultural revolution occurring as well, begun by such literary giants as William Butler Yeats and his Abbey Theatre, and also by the founders of the Gaelic League).

    So wittingly or unwittingly, Gearoid once responded in Irish to a question posed by an English prison guard (this was while he sat in an English gaol for making a "seditious" speech). For speaking in so foul a tongue (actually, the beautiful native language of the Irish people), Gearoid received a harsh slap in the face from this prison guard. However, since Gearoid also refused, while a gun was pointed to his head, to clean out the English officers' latrines while in another gaol (where the 1916 rebels who weren't executed were taken), I guess a little smack in the face didn't bother him all that much.

    Oh, I do so want to avoid politics, but history doesn't lie, does it? It's just very hard to unearth, and painfully slow, given the extraordinarily slow pace of affairs in Ireland as compared with the U.S. And that, my friends, is a post for next time.

    Until then, this exhausted writer signs out with a humble wish of "Peace" to all who've read this far.

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    Andria 6 years ago

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  • jonihnj profile image
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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    SPEAKING IN THE IRISH TONGUE

    Seven hundred years of English occupation in Ireland rendered the Irish language nearly obsolete. Yet it was spoken in homes in the remote countryside (in some cases it was the only language spoken) and even today is spoken almost exclusively in some parts of Ireland. These Irish-only areas are called Gaeltacht.

    Today, learning the Irish language (Irish Gaelic) is compulsory in Irish schools. It is also the official language of the Republic of Ireland, used in all government proceedings and posted on all official documents and signs.

    In addition, as the activist Tom Hayden pointed out to me, Irish is the unofficial language of prisoners locked up in Northern Ireland jails, who use it to protect their conversations from the listening ears of prison guards. Hayden is the author of a thought-provoking book I would recommend, "Irish on the Inside," in which he reflects upon his experiences growing up Irish in America and on his prior lack of knowledge of his own heritage, something he blames on a sort of cultural amnesia.

    It is my hope to learn to speak, or at least read, a bit of Irish before I am through with my book project. I would dearly love to be able to read transcripts of official proceedings and some of the old Celtic plays and poetry I've come across as they were originally written.

    I have heard Irish spoken by my grandfather and others and recall it as a strange yet beautiful language. Indeed, many linguistic scholars believe that the accent we refer to as the Irish "brogue" is most likely derivative of this once commonly spoken tongue.

    There are many good web sites available for exploring the Irish language. I especially enjoy a page maintained by the Irish harpist Dennis Doyle, which provides several fascinating links. [See http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/doyle.a.html.]The Skibbereen Heritage Center in Ireland [See: http://www.skibbheritage.com/index.htm] also has links to valuable language and genealogy web sites.

    The language is also seeing a revival in the U.S. and in Canada. In Canada, it has become particularly prominent in and around Nova Scotia [see: http://ancumann.chebucto.org/]. On the U.S. east coast, one can learn take an Irish-language course and learn more about Irish language and culture at New York University’s Ireland House [see: http://irelandhouse.fas.nyu.edu/page/home ]

    Beware, though, should you decide to delve further into this utterly complex language. While it is based on the same Roman alphabet used in the English language (minus a few letters), you will probably find Irish to be unlike any language you are likely to hear or read.

    Imagine it – soon, if I make incredible progress, I may be able to post in Irish.

    Until then,

    Sláinte!

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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    LEARNING ABOUT GEAROID O'SULLIVAN

    A visit to the small town of Skibbereen [See http://www.skibbheritage.com/index.htm] is an altogether different experience for one leaving the hilly farm areas that surround it.

    This small town was where, I like to imagine, the families of Gearoid O’Sullivan and Michael Collins did their shopping over the centuries. It remains the central commercial district for families living in surrounding villages, with a charming main street offering the basic provisions (for more elaborate purchases, a trip to Cork, Ireland's second largest city, is in order).

    It was in the town’s Skibbereen Heritage Centre [See: http://www.skibbheritage.com/index.htm] that I learned about my "semi-famous" relative, Gearoid O'Sullivan, who is the central figure in the book I am writing.

    A onetime child prodigy and the youngest man fighting during the Easter 1916 ’Rising, Gearoid was my grandfather's first cousin and also shared a grandmother in common with the much more famous Michael Collins. Most people know much about Collins, the subject of an eponymous film several years ago starring Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts. But of the enigmatic Gearoid, reputed to be Collins' right-hand man and said to have had a hand in many events of the era, history has preserved little information. (Don't bother reading the Wikipedia entry, which is all wrong - for example, Gearoid died in 1948, not 1994 as this site would have it.)

    I have heard Gearoid mentioned by family members as a man who loved, taught and fought to preserve the Irish language, one branch of the Gaelic language spoken in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Brittany. Far less a topic for discussion in my family was Gearoid's prominent role as adjutant general in the Irish "War for Independence," which achieved Ireland's partial independence from England.

    I should note here that I say Ireland’s independence was "partial" because the ensuing peace treaty with England, adopted by the ruling Irish Dail from that time, omitted six counties located within Ireland's Ulster Territory to the north – a matter of significant strife that immediately led to civil war following the treaty's signing and which still bedevils north and south. So intense are feelings, even today, that Northerners refer to those living in the Republic of Ireland as "the elite" – and far worse.)

    Sláinte!

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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    ‘YOU CAN’T EAT THE SCENERY’

    Lough Hyne, the lake area where my grandfather was born and raised, is among the many farming areas that skirt the town of Skibbereen – an area hardest hit by the Great Famine.

    Perhaps this is what a Corksman I encountered had in mind when he told me, "You can't eat the scenery," as I admired the gorgeous countryside and commented on the difficulty anyone leaving it behind must have experienced.

    Indeed, the farm where my grandfather Patrick lived, in a farmhouse built by my great-grandfather Jeremiah, is still in family hands. Its locale is among the most stunning I have ever seen, situated atop a steep hill overlooking a rare marine estuary known as Lough Hyne.

    In a country filled with many natural wonders, Lough Hyne stands out as unique. Here, saltwater meets fresh water – an unusual occurrence that over time has created rare species of marine life found nowhere else in the world.

    For obvious reasons, the lake draws marine biologists and tourists the world over.[See: http://www.skibbheritage.com/hyne.htm].

  • jonihnj profile image
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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    A WOULD-BE WRITER LEARNS HER HISTORY

    The Skibbereen Heritage Centre, where I first learned about my cousin Gearoid O’Sullivan, the central subject of my proposed book, is located in a town of the same name, within County Cork. This is within the area where the O'Sullivan branch of my family (on the maternal side) has lived and farmed for several generations. The family originally hailed from CountyTipperary, but suffered the misfortune of forced eviction from their lush ancestral homeland, as did many others.

    The O'Sullivan clan’s properties were seized in order to reward those English warriors who pledged allegiance to Oliver Cromwell, the man whose troops stormed through Ireland in the mid-1600s, determined to crush, as he called them, Ireland’s “papist rebels.” This idea of picking off valuable properties must have seemed quite splendid to subsequent members of the English aristocracy, which continued encroaching on Irish lands until Ireland no longer belonged to her own people.

    The new landholders (or might we without offense call them "land robbers"?) rarely appeared on Ireland’s shores. Generally speaking, this was a good thing, because their occasional visits were spent hunting with abandon, drinking, raping young Irish virgins and engaging in other such jolly "sporting" activity. Making themselves even more loveable to the Irish people, these absentee property owners charged exorbitant rents to their tenants in exchange for small patches of land.

    They also exploited expanses of fertile properties for food for export.

    Without doubt, this commodity was produced here in bountiful, mouth-watering quantities, as the hard-working tenant farmers who cared for the crops and cattle probably could not help but notice. Unfortunately, these poor sods were forbidden from enjoying the fruits of their labor, and instead found sustenance in the one crop their tiny scraps of rented land would yield – the cursed potato.

    When blight killed off these small potato patches throughout the country in the mid-19th century, Ireland’s Great Famine was unleashed. This was not the first potato famine to occur during the years of Ireland's occupation by the English, but it was by far the country’s most devastating. Millions of men, women, and children died of starvation, often dropping dead in the middle of the road as they traveled miles on foot to the nearest soup kitchen. Others had no choice but to leave their native land, some dying in the holds of ships that brought them across the Atlantic, most never to see family members again.

    Perhaps most tragic of all is that, as historical records reveal, more food left Ireland for export to England during this bleak period than ever before in Irish history.

    On this cheerful note, I will end.

    Sláinte!

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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    IN WHICH TWO BORED TEENS TAKE ON SOUTHWEST IRELAND

    If you have been to the Southwestern part of Ireland, which includes parts of Counties Cork and Kerry within the island’s Muenster Territory (one of Ireland’s four territories) you may recall this area offers a gorgeous feast for the eyes. It is resplendent with hills and valleys, grazing sheep, glimpses of blue patches of ocean, and more shades of green than designers at Crayola can possibly duplicate.

    However, it is not exactly the center of stimulating, sophisticated civilization, and offers nary a shopping mall. This posed a more-than-slight problem for me during a visit there, towing with me as I was two extremely b-o-r-e-d daughters, one a teen and the other soon to become one. Rather than finding the exploration of their family’s heritage utterly fascinating, they each made it pointedly, abundantly, unabashedly clear that they would rather be shopping – or watching TV (if, they complained, there was anything interesting to watch on Irish TV). No, they did not delight in traveling about the Irish countryside in a tiny tin-box of a car, on impossibly narrow roads relieved only by jagged rock formations, with a driver vastly inexperienced steering from the right side of a vehicle, and who flinched every time a car traveling a million miles an hour whizzed by.

    Need it be said this was not your typical "thrill-a-minute" family vacation?

    Fortunately, the Skibbereen Heritage Centre [See: http://www.skibbheritage.com/index.htm] in the town of the same name featured a reasonably priced gift shop. This for-once welcomed souvenir shop, along with a substantial bribe of Euro, kept the girls preoccupied long enough to learn from an enthusiastic information guide about my semi-famous relative Gearoid O'Sullivan and his much more famous cousin Michael Collins.

    Gearoid is the man credited with raising the homespun Irish flag over the General Post Office (or GPO) in Dublin as his ragtag unit of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) - soon to become “the original IRA" - took a sound beating, as they were vastly outnumbered and out-armed by the English troops who stormed Dublin to end the doomed Easter 1916 'Rising.

    I learned much from my visit and am sure I would have learned more from the wonderfully informative and helpful woman at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre, who was busily pulling out volume after volume of genealogy books and folders filled with news clippings. However, while she was blissfully oblivious, I was finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the two girls who stood off to the side, glaring at me like a pair of Teamsters set on intimidating a picket line scab.

    Oh, I could go on forever about this if I don’t stop myself, and so I will put the brakes on for now.

    Until later, Sláinte!

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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    DOCUMENTING THE TRAVAILS OF A WOULD-BE NOVELIST

    [Please note that I've cut the original entry - which you can skip - into more readable entries and also expanded upon them.]

    Cad é mar a tá tú ?

    As a longtime commercial copywriter embarking on her first "serious" literary endeavor, a book exploring Irish history and culture through the eyes of a somewhat prominent relative, I thought I should begin documenting my research journey, which has offered more twists and turns than many spy novels I have fallen asleep reading.

    I hope some will find this journal interesting. However, I hope even more fervently that it will yield useful information about my elusive subject from even one or two people who might stumble across it and have information to share.

    Why this topic? I have wanted to write a book for the longest time and have several ideas competing for prominence even now. But this is a subject that captured my imagination a long time ago. Now it will not let go until I have captured it on paper.

    Coming as I do from a family of recent Irish emigrants, I heard fascinating stories about Ireland throughout my childhood. I especially enjoyed the tale about an uncle who, while visiting the family farm during the 1940s, was handed a roll of toilet paper and pointed toward an open field upon asking to use the facilities.

    A visit to my homeland in rugged Southwest Ireland, to be warmly greeted by family who spoke English I could barely understand, transformed mild curiosity into a burning desire to know more. I began research for this book, depending on the kindness of strangers in Ireland for access to information available only there in museums and libraries.

    It has been an unusual experience, and I will try to capture bits and pieces of it here – along with other day-to-day topics and interests that interfere with my “author’s journey.” I hope you will stay tuned for more about my adventures involving discussions with prominent Irish authors, unexpected discoveries, “ah ha!” moments, experiences with a few scam artists and, sadly, the tragic death of a kind and helpful source.

    Meanwhile, in case you were wondering, my opening greeting, "Cad é mar a tá tú?," roughly translates "How are you?"

    I shall end by wishing you Sláinte! – a great expression for making a toast, but also a wish that you enjoy good health.

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    jonihnj 6 years ago from Metro New York

    Oh boy, serious competition. Here's a Hub page that will provide loads more info. about the language.

    http://hubpages.com/@ainehannah