Showing posts from October, 2020

Saoirse na tíre, saoirse an duine

During the 1960s money was scarce. So summer holidays anywhere - Ireland or abroad - were beyond our family’s means. The only destination in continental Europe I knew anything about was the pilgrimage town of Lourdes in southwest France. And that didn't sound like a fun place. If the prospect of a sun holiday on the Costa del Sol never entered my head, I wasn’t completely indifferent to what was going on Europe. In March 1965 Ireland's Butch Moore sang “Walking the Streets in the Rain” in the Eurovision Song Contest. Like many others I was glued to our black-and-white telly when the contest was broadcast live from Naples. Right up to the end of the decade I paid close attention as Dickie Rock, Sean Dunphy, and other big names tried and failed to win the big prize. Eventually, in 1970, a demure teenager from Derry named Dana beat the likes of Mary Hopkin and Julio Iglesias to the top spot. As a youngster my interest in Europe began and ended with pop music. So I knew nothing abo

Na seascaidí fada

During the last few months I have been asking myself a fundamental question. What do I mean by the "1960s"?  Surely the answer is pretty obvious? It's a 10-year span starting on January 1st 1960 and ending on December 31st 1969.  But do major happenings, like those that make up a far-reaching cultural revolution, fall neatly into a ten-year period with an arbitrary starting point?  Watershed moments such as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand or the fall of the Berlin Wall did not occur precisely at the turn of a new century or decade. These and other pivotal events - rather than dates in a calendar - are often used to frame historical epochs. For instance, some academic studies of British history consider the "long eighteenth century" as having begun with the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, with the end point set at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Although it redefines the 18th century as a period of 127 years rather than one hundred, this approa