Monday, January 30, 2012

Pa' Los Del San Patricio

years ago I was up in Clifden, Connemara, for their annual commemoration of the San Patricio Battalion. The leader of the San Patricio's hailed from the town, his name was John Riely. As part of the commemoration I sang "Pa' Los Del San Patricio."  That song formed part of a documentary which I presented for TG4 entitled-"Saol Riely."  The documentary was shot in Ireland, and Mexico, in 2009, and 2010. The song was written by myself in Glenbeigh, County Kerry, around 2001. It's mad to think how writing that song brought me all the way from South Kerry to Central Mexico, the butterfly flaps his wings and all that malarky!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Leap of Faith (into the great blue yonder)

Philip Petit's, 45 minute tightrope walk between the twin towers in 1974, for me, is one of the most sublime, simple, and subversive things I've heard of or seen. Petit's dance; 1368ft up in thin air, is a perfect paean to the crushing beauty and fragility of creation. Bear in mind, the feat was done completely unbeknownst to the powers that be... until people started to point in wonder from the pavement below. Can you imagine that same gesture; pointing fingers, skyward, on September 11th 2001. When you compare Philip Petit's tightrope walk to the utter destruction of the twin towers attack, it's a sore indictment of how polar opposite humans can be. Picture a man: in one hand; a sublime beauty. In the other; an intransigent evil.
Envision a man, dancing, a quarter mile from the ground, on a tightrope cable between two monoliths. It's like some sublime dream. At one point, Petit has a conversation with a seagull circling round his head! Petit's tightrope feats, were said to be responsible for the softening of public opinion in relation to the garish architecture of the twin towers. Until he stepped out onto that cable, the towers were considered to be garishly large and unfeeling; two behemoths of concrete and commerce. Often, I like to imagine what two similar towers might be like if they were populated by the likes of Philip Petit; an army of people marching to their own drum, together. Can you imagine the mad diversity, the beautiful creations that might come; if only the leap was taken?

I can highly recommend the film documentary based on Petit's life - "Man On Wire."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

That Langer is Baloobas!

The Irish have a long history of service in the British Army. For centuries, in a country full of strife and upheaval, it was the one job you could count on-you could always count on her Majesty's Few bob.... if you lived long enough to benefit from it. One famous regiment of the British Army were "The Munster Fusiliers." Under that moniker, they were active for forty years, from 1881 to 1922. They had many run-ins with many foes, from German Kaisers to Ottoman Kings. While stationed in India the Munster Fusiliers faced one of their most unusual enemies, that being: the Langur Monkey.  The Langurs were so unpopular with the Munster Fusiliers, that they were the inspiration for the most famous of Cork slang words - Langer.

Langer - A fool, a really drunk person, or a penis. The etymology of Langer derives from the time of the Munster Fusiliers. When they were stationed out in India the Fusiliers were probably pestered to distraction by langur monkeys; soon enough they began using Langer as a term of insult amongst each other - "feck off you langer,"  "yer some langer,"  and so on. The term quickly spread back home to Ireland and eventually became the quintessential Cork slang term it is today.

A Young Langur Monkey
The Irish State, since its formation in the early 1920's, has been a neutral state; the only active service Irish soldiers see is on peace keeping missions with the U.N.  One of the most infamous missions of the Irish Army was when they were stationed out in the Congo in the late 1950's/early 1960's. It was during an engagement there that another colorful Hiberno-English word took flower-Baloobas.

Baloobas - A fool or a really drunk person. For example - "Yer man was baloobas altogether" or "He's some balooba."
The Baloobas are an African tribe of the Congo.  On Nov 8th 1960, although the Baloobas fought with bow and arrow, they almost wiped out one whole Irish Platoon.