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The Robert Tressell Festival – 6th of May 2023 April 30, 2023

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Please note: it is essential to book by Eventbrite. No charge for the daytime sessions but €15 euro a ticket for the evening. The booking is because the event organisers need to know the numbers expected since neither the Connolly Room or the Theatre is all that big. Strictly no admission without a ticket for health and safety reasons.

Fortnightly Culture Thread 30/4/2023 April 30, 2023

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gregtimo proposed in comments recently the idea of a Culture Thread.

It’s a great idea. Currently culture is a bit strange, but people read, listen to music, watch television and film and so on – spread the net wide, sports, activities, interests, all relevant – and any pointers are always welcome. And it’s not just those areas but many more. Suggestions as to new or old things, events that might have been missed, literally anything.

CLR Cedar Lounge Revolution meet May/June? April 30, 2023

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The Social Committee has reconvened and is looking at a CLR meet at the end next month or beginning of June. Same location as last time most likely – because there’s food there! Looking at a Friday evening in order to allow for those who aren’t Dublin based to get there. Does that sound okay? Will provide a final date closer in but all welcome.

Stephen Court April 30, 2023

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I guess any building anywhere will eventually come to fit in with its surroundings. Is this true of Stephen Court on St Stephen’s Green? Perhaps, maybe, I don’t know. I actually quite like that style and it is very typical of buildings constructed in the 1970s to 1980s, albeit the rather dark finish didn’t exactly illuminate Dublin in those somewhat grim decades. Finished in 1971 it’s a half century old and apparently up for demolition.

Associated now, in the public imagination, if at all, as the headquarters of Anglo-Irish Bank. For those of us a bit older some may recall how it was home to a bookshop, at least on the ground floor left hand side as you went in the door. I well remember the Chris Foss illustrated covers of Isaac Asimov’s books piled there. Not sure how long it had that function. But I’ve got to be honest that always made me fonder of the building that it perhaps deserves. 

Frank McDonald has an excellent piece on it and he’s argued for retention of the facade at a minimum. Looking the photograph accompanying the piece I have to admit I do like that none-more early 1970s ground floor facade with arches and columns. 

And the proposed replacement, visible in picture form further down that article is not clearly an improvement on the status quo. 

Sunday and other stupid statements this week April 30, 2023

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All examples welcome.

Gerard Howlin in The Irish Times looks back to a kinder gentler imaginary time in Irish politics:

The political ruckus about Watt’s attitude in front of the committee is especially ironic. The coarsening of political debate is a fact of political life. Committees too often are bear pits for mauling witnesses. Politesse left Irish politics a long time ago.

On the same topic from today, the Government has a supporter in the media (as an aside, interesting the number of pieces which take them to task for statements made in the Dáil about the Ditch). 

Eilis O’Hanlon: The clowns may change but around Leinster House it’s always the same political circus

A piece which starts:

Micheál Martin is right.

In the Business Post this analysis is offered on Fine Gael, from a politician who was unable to retain their own seat after leaving that party and starting a new one.  

Look though at the solution proposed. So very new and unusual in Irish politics:

At present it lacks a mission and vision, and is sometimes defined only by its similarity to every other bland party in the state. Over the years Fine Gael has done best when it concentrated on driving solutions to the problems that face Irish people, especially those who “get up early” as the Taoiseach famously suggested. It is time to reconnect with them. Otherwise retiring TDs will be the least of FG’s problems; it will be those contesting the election who will really find themselves in bother.

This headline in The Irish Times. Peak Times?

Ireland’s dream economy fuelled by artists is thriving. 

Course it is David. 



ILA Podcast #48: Mary Muldowney: Left History April 29, 2023

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Mary Muldowney: Left History Irish Left Archive Podcast

In this episode we talk to Dublin City Council historian-in-residence Mary Muldowney about left approaches to history. Mary discusses her research and public dissemination of history; her advocacy of oral history and its particular utility in bringing out working class histories and history ‘from below’; attitudes to history in Irish academia and how they have changed; and some of the events of the left and trade union movements that merit greater analysis and recognition.

We previously spoke to Mary about her own political background and experience as an activist and trade unionist in episode 7 of the podcast.

Mary mentioned the Robert Tressell Festival, which is taking place in Liberty Hall on 6th May, and includes panels and talks on Tressell, his novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, and on contemporary organising, as well as music and drama. You can find out more on the website at tressellfestival.ie.

Follow and subscribe to the Irish Left Archive Podcast at podcast.leftarchive.ie

Moon shot April 29, 2023

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A pity that the iSpace lunar lander appears to have failed. It carried an Irish experiment on board. 

Communications have been lost with a lunar rover which was due to land on the Moon carrying samples developed in a lab at Dublin City University (DCU).

The plastic and metal strips were attached to the wheels of the spacecraft and were to be used to study the way moon dust sticks to different surfaces.

Japanese lunar exploration company iSpace was behind the mission but deemed the attempt to be unsuccessful after communication was lost with the unmanned spacecraft.

“We have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface,” said iSpace CEO Takeshi Hakamada.

If successful, it would have been the first lunar landing by a private company.

If nothing else this underscores the fact that space is an intensely challenging environment. Only three nations, using state programmes, have managed to land spacecraft on the Moon. Consider the patchy record of success with probes to Venus and Mars, and all those again underwritten by states. It’s not that private companies can’t or won’t succeed sooner or later but away from the super-heated rhetoric around some of the private enterprises involved and the personalities behind same the harsh truth is that this remains an extremely difficult exercise. 

Creaking franchise April 29, 2023

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Not sure what to make of the news that there are three ‘new’ Star Wars films in the mix. As reported by Reuters:

Ridley will play her character, Rey, in a story set 15 years after the events of the 2019 film “The Rise of Skywalker.” The upcoming movie will focus on rebuilding the New Jedi Order as powers rise to tear it down, Disney said.

The second of the three coming films will delve into the past to tell the story of the first Jedi to wield the Force, Kennedy said.

The third will be set in the present and chronicle an escalating war between the Imperial Remnant and the fledgling New Republic. It will be led by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, the team behind the popular Star Wars TV series “The Mandalorian.”

There’d been another number of projects in development but these have been pushed aside. Interesting to see Favreau in the frame for one of the films. His work on the Mandalorian was certainly excellent in parts. Andor was superb but the thought of new SW films leaves me cold.

I’ve given up on Marvel, bar some of the television outings (to be honest anything with characters with ‘superpowers’ in that franchise is borderline tedious). DC has always been more hit and miss, with some lovable moments but, again, that superpowers thing. There’s the sameness and predictability. From the Joss Whedon (a non-person these days) flipness on. Remember when that meta knowingness was the future? It surely isn’t now. Cities crumble to witty(ish) asides. Not sure that works.

How many iterations of Batman do we need? I liked the most recent film, but it’s a story I’ve seen four, five, times now? It’s one of the reasons Planet of the Apes and the Monsterverse films were so refreshing. Don’t know the rules, don’t know if there are any. Great, if spectacle is the object of the exercise. Then again in a world where top-class CGI is a given spectacle is oddly devalued. Everything looks a-okay – better even. 

I know, this can all sound ridiculously jaded but the idea of the cinema as an area of novelty, of interesting one-offs, seems almost antiquated given the direction of travel of these franchises and how all encompassing they are. It’s not just what we can loosely term ‘science fiction’ (though fantasy is as good a term for much of what they offer).

I liked John Wick and I hear good things about the most recent film but how many do we need? The Fast and the Furious. Enough said. Spats over who will be the ‘new’ James Bond. Then there’s Mission Impossible and multiple films made back to back, perhaps to ensure that Cruise isn’t too old by the time they’re finished.

I’ve liked entries in all those series. But the fact they are series is telling. Perhaps this is a moment where film sits uneasily inflected by sequential television. Where there’s a comfort in that sameness, that sense of continuity. I can’t blame anyone for that (it’s been a long pandemic, a long 2010s) but then Marvel’s gargantuan franchise was in train prior to all that. Similarly with Bond, etc. 

And now three disparate ‘new’ Star Wars stories. It’ll never end. 

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Hifi Sean and David McAlmont April 29, 2023

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Always liked David McAlmont’s singing. His albums with Bernard Butler of Suede were revelatory. And this, with Hifi Sean, one time Soup Dragon – now long time DJ, is excellent. Both are gay men and they’ve spoken about how this partnership and friendship infuses their work in ways that make it different to other collaborations they’ve done (in a vague way the sensibility reminds me of Bob Mould and Richard Morel’s collaboration on Blowoff – even musically, consider All In The World). I’ve read some criticisms that the album doesn’t have enough McAlmont. Not sure about that. The balance seems just about perfect. Also important is the huge contribution of Chandra Jois who brings Bollywood Strings.

It is an explicitly political album too.The Skin I’m In, All in The World and numerous other tracks.

Stand out songs? The Fever, without question is a classic. Hurricanes is cheerfully explicit, Diamond Dust, The Skin I’m In and Aurora. But really, it’s a great album. Can see it heading to end of year lists. And where are we, this is still just about April.

The Fever



The Skin I’m In

Johnny Fean – 1951-2023 April 29, 2023

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Very sorry to hear of that Johnny Fean had passed on this last day or so. A great musician. Here’s a couple of posts on the site that deal with his career. Early Horslips. Later Horslips. Zen Alligators. And of course he was in the Host and numerous other groups over the years.

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