Mark Grealish

the life and code of a crazy cat man

My Ireland at 100

in ireland

The Irish Republic turned 1001 today and Dublin hosted a huge parade today at the culmination of events centered on the 1916 Easter Rising. The city and country turned out in pride and today was the day to be Irish.

Menlo Castle, Co. Galway

Here’a a random thought: I have been around for one-third of the life of the Irish Republic. My mother has been around for two-thirds, and my nan was born years before anyone took the first potshot at the GPO. Ireland isn’t old at all according to most political metrics, but it has changed even within my life:

Ireland has changed for sure: cultural Catholics and non-traditional lifestyles are the new everyday. Outside of Eadaoin, my two closest friends here are a transgender gay couple. I mean, I classmates called me a queer and a faggot for years at school because I stood out. Now there is equal marriage and bigots have to scramble for new things to call us.

Below, I give my thoughts on the biggest changes to Ireland during my life.

The biggest change has been the glacial2 backlash against the Roman Catholic Church. What more Irish trope exists out in the world than us as poor Catholic who drink, beat women and shit out babies? Ireland has struggled with this image, and their successive governments who enforced it. They made a conscious choice to wed the Irish people to the pastoral ideal. As Eamon de Valera himself said:

The ideal Ireland that we would have…would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live.

Look no further than the Mother and Child Scheme of 1951.

Senior leaders of the Church conspired to cover up the abuse of women children by members of the clergy. They had help. Church leaders later refused to acknowledge the abuse3 or cooperate with investigations4. They refused to apologise or even acknowledge victims until coerced by public reaction.

Here is why I needle Catholics: the behaviour of the Roman Catholic Church disgusted me. It is hard to me to extend respect to those who engage in the uncritical promotion of the faith. I left in May 2010, helped by, because I wasn’t comfortable with any association.

And I’m not alone. When I was a kid, it was a social death sentence if you missed Ash Wednesday. You kept your face down and forehead covered if you didn’t have the ashes. But now Ireland has shifted away from the Catholic church. It shocked me in February when I saw some public figure on the news with ashes. Church attendance is on a downward slope, while parents demand secular schools. The next target for activists is Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits abortion. They’re angry and energized by their success with equal marriage, and tragedies like the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Durty Farehnars
Assholes across the country slap dick on keyboard about how the influx of foreigners has ruined Ireland. They bleat about Brussels and Paris, attacks planned and executed by spooky foreigners. They also spell out how Ireland is Next. You’ll find it online if you go look. But fuck those dipshits.

Dunguaire Castle, Co. Galway

Foreigners are good for Ireland. Once upon a time Ireland was a monocultural backwater, a staid Catholic country dependent on tourists on a nostalgia trip for a quaint home country that never existed. Then somebody, somewhere created some jobs and outsiders came pouring into the country. Poles and Lithuanians and Nigerians arrived in their droves with alien viewpoints. And now Ireland has a fierce information economy. We export information, ideas and skilled workers around the world. Ireland trades as partners with the United States and European Union.

Immigrants washed away the old Irish-Catholic monoculture. Today they stand to challenge political norms, a franchised, growing demographic who will shape Ireland over the next decade.

And our precious Irish heritage? Everyone comes from somewhere else. Half of us descend from Vikings and the other half from British or Scottish (me) colonists. What about it if we have a peaceful influx? This is the same old thing redux, except now we’re welcoming hosts instead of the oppressed invaded.

The Internet
Big Change the Third. Internet access in Ireland went from ‘expensive and rare’ to ‘in everyone’s pocket’ in the proverbial blink of an eye. Except in rural Co. Sligo, but that’s a tale for another day. The Internet is same as the air we breathe-t’s everywhere and you don’t appreciate it until you run out.

It’d be hyperbole if I described Ireland as a hidden ountain kingdom, but at the same time there was a retarded flow of information to and within the island:

  1. “What would the neighbors think?” Pressure applied from within the family group to maintain social norms. I still fight this today.
  2. Centralized dissemination of media: Broadcasts only showed one point of view, while print media was censored5.
  3. The chilling effect of a powerful Roman Catholic Church.

Etcetera. My point is that pre-Internet Ireland was a different place. The Internet brought immediacy, instant gratification for whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it. We could reach out to our own diaspora in real time. It gave us a multitude of safe and anonymous channels for discussion about anything at all. There was entertainment beyond numeration, banned films and books at our fingertips ready for consumption.

The Internet brgouht a hundred novel new ways to collaborate, learn and share. I met my now-ex wife on the Internet. Most of my contact with my kids for most of their lives has been over Skype. My closest friends live halfway around the world in Indianapolis and Dallas. I haven’t met either in the flesh.

The Internet has done more to change Ireland over the last twenty years than all our patriots, politicians and priests together.

That’s my Ireland. Here we are, here we remain and here’s to another 100 years of it.

1. Kinda. I guarantee we’ll remember the War of Independence next year, and then celebrate the 1922 centenary too.
2. Slow’n’cold.
3. ‘The Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, and Sisters of Charity, have ignored requests by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee Against Torture to contribute to the compensation fund for victims including 600 still alive in March 3014.’ (source)
4. Source.
5: Print media is still censored today.

Caira and Garrett, Easter 2016

in family

Caira and bunnyGarrett and egg

Saturday out

in me

Alanna and Casey came down last night. What a night it was! We had coffee in Clement & Pekoe, sushi and ramen next door in Kokoro and a round of pints at the Brew Dock. Then we went back to Dundrum for homebrewed mead on the couch. On Talbot Street saw two scumbags fighting (or maybe they were mating?) while we were out in search of a fictional pub. Weatherspoons, a giant English pub chain, plan to open a franchise in Dublin. It’s Coming Soon™. Some jackhole already has it tagged on Google Maps, so the three of us wandered around like idiots for twenty minutes on Amiens Street. Thanks.

Breakfast this morning was in Sophie’s on the roof of The Dean hotel on Harcourt Steet, before we went shopping around town.

Eadaoin noms at the Dublin Cookie Company on Thomas StreetMe on Thomas Street

Eadaoin’s birthday debauchery

in friends

Eadaoin’s birthday weekend was Roman in its decadence, with high tea served at the resplendent Powerscourt Hotel in Enniskerry on Saturday, and a three-course feast of Mexican food consumed on Sunday.

Eadaoin at PowerscourtMe at PowerscourtEadaoin and Donny struggle through dinner

Have the greenest of days

in america

I used to be a remorseless asshole when it came to the Irish diaspora because of the amount of dipshit hyphenated Americans who flouted their misunderstood past. To me you were either Irish, or you were whatever else. Never could you be both together.

Great example: two ladies I knew at Expedia, one named O’Shaughnessy, and the other who had Claddagh all the way out her asshole. The former pronounced her surname wrong, as did her siblings, parents and whole family. I shocked her with my correction.

Saint Patrick's Day merch on Thomas Street, Dublin

The latter was from Texas and had Irish ancestry some way back (she didn’t know when). Claddagh ring, Claddagh tattoo, Claddagh earrings and a vague notion that Claddagh is somewhere near Dublin, but where is Dublin again?

They made me angry because here were people who played at being Irish without any sense of what Irish means. They were American beyond American, with their thick accents, weekend barbecues and Democratic party membership. I mean, I’m the son of a Claddagh man and I grew up twenty minutes away on foot. Who was she to tout her Claddagh ancestors?

Having kids abroad turned me around. Wherever you grow up is home. You’re a citizen of wherever. It’s all you’ve ever known, but to the natives, you will always and forever be a foreigner. To the country of your parents you’ll always and forever be a foreigner too. You don’t have a past and nobody around will begrudge you a present, so what do you do in your future?

It’s this forever-outsider problem that leads to extremism in the worst cases. At best it becomes a lifelong struggle to fit in. That’s where I see my kids someday if they ever come back across the Pond, and it now feels imperative to make them welcome. I understand why the children of emigrants haphazardly reach out to their ancestry, and why it is important to support them. Shock and horror, they don’t do it just to annoy the fuck out of us.

So whoever you are, whatever tiny percentage of Irish you claim: have a day.

Mandatory vim porn

in code

I fixed a bunch of crap (Powerline font display, mostly). Go check it out!

vim screenshot porn