African Irish photographer’s exhibition

This video from England says about itself:

A Short Film on the London Irish Centre

Shot in Camden, north London, on 6th of February 2008.

Filmed & Edited by Eoin O’Donnell.

By Angela Cobbinah in London, England:

Black, Irish and proud

Saturday 22nd October 2016

LORRAINE MAHER tells Angela Cobbinah what inspired her to mount the ground-breaking #iamirish photography exhibition at the Irish Centre in London

WHEN she was growing up in County Tipperary in the 1960s, Lorraine Maher met no other black people and on the few occasions they came into her midst she would avoid them.

“I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in any way,” she says.

“I grew up in a beautiful town full of beautiful people but there was racism all around me. This was the age of the golliwog and the ‘black baby box’ to collect money for starving African babies.

“I knew I was different but my blackness was never spoken about and I spent my childhood just wanting to hide away and not be noticed.”

It did not help that her mother had handed her over to her grandmother to be brought up while she lived nearby with her new family.

“In those days it would have been very hard for my mother to have not only had an illegitimate child but a black one too,” Lorraine acknowledges.

“However, I had a very difficult upbringing and I am living with the effects of that.”

There were children like herself scattered all over Ireland, many fathered by African doctors who were based there in the 1950s and ’60s as a result of bilateral work and study programmes. The unluckiest ended up in the dreaded “industrial schools”, children’s homes run by the Catholic Church where abuse was said to be widespread.

Not surprisingly, Lorraine left Ireland as soon as she could, heading for the bright lights of London aged 17. It proved to be a liberation. “I arrived at a place where I met people of all colours and where no-one questioned my identity,” she says.

“At last I felt I belonged. I dropped my Irish accent and I started seeing myself as a black woman.”

But as time went on, she realised she was still very much Irish. “It is the culture I was brought up in and it is important to me. These days I say I am black, I am Irish and I am proud.”

It is this often painful journey to self-realisation that laid the seeds of the #iamirish exhibition she has curated for the London Irish Centre, tellingly its first ever contribution to Black History Month. Opened last week by Ruaidri Dowling on behalf of the Irish embassy, it is a display of stunning portraits by photographer Tracey Anderson that aims to question the concept of what it looks like to be Irish.

“It is a celebration of Ireland’s diversity,” explains Lorraine, who works as an education manager at the Clean Break Theatre Company and has four children.

“The photos are accompanied by family crests, linked to Irish surnames, to dispel the idea that if you are from a non-white community you are automatically an immigrant. I myself can trace my ancestry back thousands of years.”

The Ireland of today is very different to the one she grew up in, she agrees. The economic boom of the 1980s and ’90s brought in migrants from all over the world transforming the country’s monocultural view of itself and when Muhammad Ali visited Ennis in County Clare in 2009 where his great great-grandfather hailed from he was given a huge welcome.

But according to Lorraine: “Ireland may look very different but it is not as blended as it looks.”

The contradictions were brought home to her by two events earlier this year, which spurred her into organising the exhibition.

The first was the mayor of Ennis’s announcement that he was going to attend Ali’s funeral and the second was news the following day that two African students had been refused entry into a Dublin bar.

“I felt I really had to do something to bring the two communities together.”

The exhibition consists of images of people aged from one to 70-plus but all are anonymous. Despite that, it is full of warmth and optimism.

Bar a few Facebook trolls, the response has been extremely positive, says Lorraine, touching as it does the hitherto hidden lives of children like herself and the generations who have followed.

#iamirish runs at London Irish Centre, Camden Square, London NW1 until October 31. There will be an accompanying workshop and a panel discussion during the month. Details:

Donald Trump and women, parody song

This 20 October 2016 satiric music video from Britain about Donald Trump and women is called Madonald – “I Like a Virgin“.

It is a parody of the song ‘Like a virgin’, by Madonna.

The lyrics are:

20 October 2016

I made it through the primaries with record numbers
I just don’t know how to lose, ‘cause I’m a winner
Won’t be beat, ‘cause I’m neat
I’m a star, I’m a real big star
So I had a feel, yeah I had a feel
A fun little fondle

Of a virgin, groped for the very first time
I like a virgin, put a roofie in her wine

Gonna have my way with you, girl
I’m allowed ‘cause I’m a star
And if you ever try to sue
I’ll say I’ve never heard of you

You’re so fine, and you’re mine
I’ll come on strong ‘cause I’m feeling bold
I’ve got nice, big hands
I’ve got larger than average-sized hands
And they’re ready for a touch

Of a virgin, groped for the very first time
I like a virgin, put a roofie in her wine
Like a vermin stepping across the line
I like a virgin, put a roofie in her wine

Michael Moore’s new film on Donald Trump

This video from the USA says about itself:

18 October 2016

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore announced Michael Moore in TrumpLand today, a surprise film project about presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Read more here.

‘A PLEA TO THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: TAKE BACK YOUR TRUMP ENDORSEMENT’ “With the GOP nominee for president having boasted about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity, a leading women’s group is asking the Fraternal Order of Police to back off of its endorsement of Donald J. Trump.” [Ryan Grim, HuffPost]

Of course Michael Moore’s surprise Trump film is called “TrumpLand.”

American nazi band not playing in Scotland

This video from the USA says about itself:

Teenage Sisters Singing: Neo-Nazi Beliefs Have Changed as These Two Girls Grew Up

20 July 2011

Two girls who used to play in a neo-Nazi band explain what drove them to change. For more, click here.

By Zoe Streatfield in Britain:

People power forces neonazis to cancel gig

Tuesday 18th October 2016

ANTI-RACIST campaigners claimed victory yesterday after a neonazi concert due to be held in Scotland later this month was cancelled.

US white power band Bound for Glory were booked to perform in Falkirk this Saturday but cancelled the gig due to fears that anti-racist activists would target the event.

The cancellation was announced on Sunday by organiser Vicky Pearson, who said the concert had to be called off due to a combination of adverse media attention, the likelihood that the US band members would be refused entry into Britain and fears that the venue would pull out.

A spokesman for anti-racist and anti-fascist campaign group Hope not Hate said: “While obviously we will remain vigilant to ensure that she [Ms Pearson] is true to her word, we can celebrate a huge victory for people power.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who also pushed for the gig’s cancellation said: “This is really good news — groups like this have no other purpose than to spread division and hate.

“We must always to be vigilant to ensure they don’t play in any of our communities.”

More than 1,700 people contacted their MPs and MSPs over the weekend expressing their disgust at the event.

However, more than 500 tickets had been sold for what was believed to be the biggest-ever white supremacist gig in Scotland.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson had pledged to write to Westminister Home Secretary Amber Rudd recommending that she refuse the entry of the band to Britain.

Mr Matheson said: “There is no place for hatred of this kind in Scotland.”

Cave art explains European bison evolution

Various bisons in cave art, from various caves

The caption of this picture says:

(a) Reproduction from Lascaux cave (France), from the Solutrean or early Magdalenian period (∼20,000 kya—picture adapted from ref. 53). (b) Reproduction from the Pergouset cave (France), from the Magdalenian period (17,000 kya—picture adapted from ref. 54)

From Nature Communications, 18 October 2016:

Early cave art and ancient DNA record the origin of European bison

Julien Soubrier, Graham Gower, Alan Cooper


The two living species of bison (European and American) are among the few terrestrial megafauna to have survived the late Pleistocene extinctions. Despite the extensive bovid fossil record in Eurasia, the evolutionary history of the European bison (or wisent, Bison bonasus) before the Holocene (<11.7 thousand years ago (kya)) remains a mystery.

We use complete ancient mitochondrial genomes and genome-wide nuclear DNA surveys to reveal that the wisent is the product of hybridization between the extinct steppe bison (Bison priscus) and ancestors of modern cattle (aurochs, Bos primigenius) before 120 kya, and contains up to 10% aurochs genomic ancestry. Although undetected within the fossil record, ancestors of the wisent have alternated ecological dominance with steppe bison in association with major environmental shifts since at least 55 kya. Early cave artists recorded distinct morphological forms consistent with these replacement events, around the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ∼21–18 kya).

See also here.