Irish prisoners help northern lapwings


This video is about young northern lapwings at their nest in the Netherlands.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Lapwings: Threatened bird species takes sanctuary in a Northern Ireland prison

Prisoners serving life sentences helped create the habitat for breeding lapwings

Michael McHugh

Monday 20 April 2015

One of the world’s most threatened birds has found a sanctuary within a prison that houses Northern Ireland’s most dangerous inmates.

Prisoners serving life sentences helped create the habitat for around 20 pairs of breeding lapwings. The birds have made their home on a marshy no-man’s-land at HMP Maghaberry, dominated by razor wire and lookouts behind reinforced glass.

The six-acre patch of waste ground lies between the perimeter fence and the wall of the jail, near Lisburn in County Antrim, known for holding dissident republicans, sex offenders and murderers.

Swampy, short grass and the lack of predators such as foxes have created the ideal conditions for breeding chicks, said retired prison guard and gardener Denis Smyth.

“We have to work together as a team, the prisoners and myself. We have a very good relationship with them; there is never a problem,” he said.

Lapwings, which are about the size of pigeons, have suffered a population decline of 50 per cent during the last 25 years as changes in farmland have impacted on habitats.

First convictions in Malta for illegal shooting of a Cuckoo and a Lapwing: here.

Marriage equality in Ireland


This video says about itself:

Marriage Equality: Bring Your Family With You

15 April 2015

Irish LGBT youth and parents coalition call for a Yes vote in the forthcoming marriage equality referendum. The BeLonG To lead coalition call on everyone to talk to their family and friends about why marriage equality is so important and to work for a Yes vote

The coalition includes: Barnardos, Headstrong, Youth Work Ireland, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre, EPIC – Empowering Young People in Care, Children’s Rights Alliance, Childline – ISPCC, Foróige, Loving Our Out Kids, Yes Equality

By Timothy McGrath:

This video will make you wish you could vote for gay marriage in Ireland

April 16, 2015 @ 5:00 PM

In the mood for a feel-good cry? We’ve got your back.

Ireland’s voting next month on whether to legalize same-sex marriage, and BeLonG To Youth, an Irish LGBT group, has just released a campaign ad that seems likely sway people on the fence and get marriage equality supporters to the polls — if they can stop sobbing and holding their loved ones.

Things are looking good for the “Yes” camp. A recent poll by the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI found that 74 percent were planning to vote to legalize same-sex marriage, while just 26 percent said they were voting “no.”

The referendum, which takes place on May 22, is likely to be a much tighter contest, the Times warns. Conservatives will ramp up their campaigning in the final weeks, and current poll numbers could be skewed if some opponents of gay marriage have been reluctant to share their true opinion with an unknown pollster.

There’s also the question of demographics. Support for marriage equality in Ireland — like in many Western countries — is strongest among young people and weakest among elders. The same Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI found that 85 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 supported legalization, and only 10 percent said they were against it. The gap narrows as the people surveyed get older and flips once respondents are 65 or older. They plan to vote “no” by a margin of 43 percent to 37 percent, with 14 percent undecided and 5 percent saying they won’t vote at all.

That explains why the theme of BeLonG To Youth’s ad is simple. Young people: Bring your older family members to the polls.

If it works, and the referendum passes in Ireland, it will be the first time in history that a country has legalized same-sex marriage through a popular vote.

That’s a huge deal.

An Irish Pastor has defended making the comparison between homosexuality and rape, as well as adultery. Pastor Craig Ledbetter of the Bible Baptist Church in Ballincollig, in Cork, made the comments to the Irish Examiner in an interview regarding the build-up to the marriage equality referendum taking place on May 22: here.

Thayer’s gull, first ever in the Netherlands


This video from Ireland is called Juvenile Thayer’s Gull at Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh – 3rd February 2012. Also in this video: an adult herring gull, and (smaller) black-headed gulls in winter plumage.

Translated from Dutch Birding:

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Last weekend for the first time ever a Thayer’s gull was seen in the Netherlands. Birder Leon Edelaar discovered the bird on the coast of Egmond aan Zee where it sat among other gulls. Birdwatchers from the Netherlands and abroad meanwhile flocked to see the special gull too.

According to photos, this is a young gull.

Thayer’s gulls nest in the high Arctic of Canada, and usually winter along the west coast of North America; very rarely in western Europe.

Irish music, war and history


This music video from Ireland says about itself:

30 November 2010

Wolfe TonesCome Out Ye Black And Tans

Words by Dominic Behan, music traditional

I was born on a Dublin street where the Royal drums do beat
And the loving English feet they trampled all over us,
And each and every night when me father’d come home tight
He’d invite the neighbours outside with this chorus:

Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away,
From the green and lovely lanes in Killashandra.

Come let me hear you tell
How you slammed the great Parnell,
When you fought them well and truly persecuted,
Where are the smears and jeers
That you bravely let us hear
When our heroes of sixteen were executed.

Come tell us how you slew
Those brave Arabs
two by two
Like the Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows,
How you bravely slew each one
With your sixteen pounder gun
And you frightened them poor natives to their marrow.

The day is coming fast
And the time is here at last,
When each yeoman will be cast aside before us,
And if there be a need
Sure my kids wil sing, “Godspeed!”
With a verse or two of Stephen Beehan‘s chorus.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Bloodied at the hands of the Black and Tans

Thursday 26th March 2015

PETER FROST remembers an Irish republican ballad that echoes events that happened 95 years ago this week

OH, come out you black and tans/ Come out and fight us like a man/ Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders/ Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away/ From the green and lovely lanes in Killeshandra.

I first learnt Dominic Behan’s fine song from the man himself in the pubs of what many locals in the mid-1960s called County Kilburn.

Kilburn in north-west London had a huge and proud Irish community and the traditional music nights were said to be as good as anything you might hear in Dublin, Belfast or Derry.

The song was always a favourite with me and my wife Ann. We both have some Irish blood in our respective families. Much later we would discover that the subject matter had direct relevance to Ann’s own family history.

We would also, later in life, on some of our many visits to Northern Ireland, explore those lovely lanes in Killeshandra. The town was once an important centre of the linen industry. Today its setting in beautiful lake country has made it is a popular centre for fishing, walking, wildlife and eco-tourism.

Dominic Behan’s song, written as a tribute to his father Stephen — and ironically set to the Orange march Rosc Catha na Mumhan, or Battlecry of Munster — brings alive the hatred of the brutal British troops who arrived in Ireland 95 years ago this week.

After the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 the execution of Irish leaders including Patrick Pearse and the dying James Connolly led to huge public outrage. This soon turned to support for the revolutionary Sinn Fein movement.

In the 1918 general election Sinn Fein won 73 out of 105 seats. In January 1919 the First Dail — the Irish parliament — declared an independent Irish Republic.

In the same month, the republican Irish Volunteers, fast becoming known as the Irish republican Army, began the guerilla campaign that would become the Irish War of Independence. The main thrust was to attack the hated Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) posts, police stations and barracks.

By 1919 the British administration, horrified by the low morale in the RIC, closed down and outlawed the Dail.

Westminster clearly needed new initiatives and the British government knew just what to do. In January 1920, the government started advertising in British cities for men willing to “face a rough and dangerous task in Ireland”.

Post-WWI unemployment and austerity meant there was no shortage of recruits, many of them veterans home from the trenches of Flanders.

By November 1921 about 9,500 ex-soldiers had joined. This sudden influx of men presented a real problem. There were not enough proper RIC uniforms to go round. Instead the new recruits were issued with war surplus khaki army trousers and dark green RIC or old blue British police tunics.

This sartorial odd mixture gave rise to their nickname, the Black and Tans. The name came from a famous pack of foxhounds from Limerick who wore similar colours. The title would stick even after the men eventually received proper green RIC uniforms.

The new recruits were given only three months’ hurried basic training, and were rapidly posted to RIC barracks, mostly in Dublin, Munster and Connacht.

The first Black and Tans arrived on March 25 1920 and immediately generated hatred and further resistance.

The government also raised a further unit, the Auxiliary Division of the constabulary. This group was made up of ex-army officers. The Black and Tans acted with the Auxiliaries and both were ordered to break the IRA by any means possible.

One of Ann’s relatives was murdered by members of the Auxiliary around this time. One of republican leader Michael Collins’s group, he was arrested and taken to Dublin Castle for questioning.

Just before nine o’clock in the evening he and a friend were released only to be immediately re-arrested for being on the street after the nine o’clock curfew. It was an old Auxiliary trick.

Dumped in the back of one of the Black and Tans’s notorious Crossley Tenders, they were driven to Phoenix Park and each had a bucket put on their head before they were shot at point-blank range.

The Auxiliary executioners were court-martialed but instead of any punishment their commanding officer offered his congratulations.

Black and Tans were paid 10 shillings a day, a substantial wage in those days — and they also got full board and lodging in special barracks.

With minimal police training, their main role was to strengthen the guarding of RIC posts. They worked as sentries, guards, escorts for government agents and as reinforcement to the regular police.

It took no time for them to gain a reputation for awesome brutality.

Black and Tans had little discipline. Deaths of Black and Tans at the hands of the IRA were often repaid with arbitrary reprisals against the civilian population.

In the summer of 1920, the Black and Tans burned and sacked many small towns and villages throughout Ireland.

One of the worst atrocities was the massacre of 13 civilians at Croke Park on Bloody Sunday November 21 1920.

Black and Tans and Auxiliaries opened fire with armoured-car-mounted machine guns on the crowd.

The Black and Tans justified the attack as revenge for Michael Collins’s assassination of an undercover RIC murder squad earlier that day.

In November 1920, they besieged Tralee, also in revenge for the IRA abduction and killing of two local RIC men. They shut the businesses in the town and let no food in for a week.

On the night of December 11 1920, they sacked and burned Cork city.

In January 1921, a commission set up by the Labour Party produced a report on the situation in Ireland. It was highly critical of the government’s security policy.

“Forming the Black and Tans,” it said “had liberated forces which it is not at present able to dominate”.

Since December 1920, the British government had sanctioned official reprisals in Ireland. The Black and Tans burnt property of IRA men and any suspected sympathisers.

Altogether 7,000 of them served in Ireland in 1920-22. More than one-third of them died or left the service before they were disbanded, along with the rest of the RIC, in 1922.

Today, nearly a century after the Black and Tans’ war crimes, these British bully boys are still remembered and still hated in Ireland.

“Tan” is still a term of abuse in Ireland. And in a delicious irony there is a medal, awarded by the Irish government to IRA veterans of the War of Independence. It bears a ribbon with two vertical stripes. The colours? What else but black and tan — just a tiny reminder of the colours of the still-hated enemy.

Sand martin back from Africa in Wales


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Sand Martins at Aughris Head Co. Sligo.

From the Pembrokeshire Birds blog in Wales:

Saturday, 7 March 2015

First Sand Martin

While going through a couple of hundred gulls sheltering in the Teifi Estuary for my WeBS count, a Sand Martin flying over was a nice surprise. A second, or the same bird, was over the river viewpoint on the Teifi Marsh.

Other birds of note were a Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe near the boat builders. Wigeon and Teal numbers were down and Shelduck up as usual for the March count. 3 Goldeneye and 3 Goosander on the river.

Posted by Wendy J at 1:37 pm