Open Kerry, Ireland

1299 days ago

This post is titled as a protest to the rapidly emerging American tradition of brandishing firearms in restaurants. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this post you will have a healthy appreciation for some of the fundamental differences faced by those living in the US versus those living in Ireland. In the US the abiding concern is whether or not you and your family will be shot to death by a narcissist, while in Ireland the abiding concern is who will get the next round (of drinks, not bullets).

Death of Local – Introduction

There is a trend which I am observing, which I will refer to as “the death of local “. Now, for those who have never spent time in rural Ireland, some background is required. Here, local has a particular shade of meaning. On the surface it is used to describe ‘people who are from here’ as opposed to ‘people who are NOT from here’.

Now, the death of local is, in my opinion, to blame on emigration — and the agents thereof. And not just any emigration; this latest round of the semi-systematic depopulation of the the Irish homeland has elements which seem to go beyond what has been seen here before. This is “deathblow emigration “. The only foreseeable recovery from this his deathblow emigration will be the (not necessarily welcome) resurrection of internationalisation. That is to say, people like me, and perhaps even you, who have the desire to contribute to the future community of this holy land.

Death of Local – What it Means to be Local

Part of the reason I know that the old-fashioned notion of ‘local’ is dying is because I know what the old-fashioned notion of ‘local’ means. Ostensibly it is someone who is from here. But in effect what it means is someone whose family has roots here. The reason being that we are now at a point in history when most of the locals live afar, if not abroad. For them, this is the place where they may be buried when they die, or where they will be obliged to attend so many funerals. But the place of their residence, the place of their community involvement, where they vote, where they pay taxes, where the work, is not here.

Those places where they spend their days are, in order of preference, Dublin, London, New York, Toronto, Sydney, Cork.

So being local is more about where your family hails from than where you are living at the time. Again, ostensibly, people will return to their homeland when the situation improves. But there is a pervading sense around here that this time, that will not be the case. There will be no booming economy to return to. There are jobs in Ireland, but only for the luck few who (a) are qualified to work with computers or high-tech manufacturing, and (b) actually enjoy working with computers or in high-tech manufacturing. Farming subsidies are coming to an end, mother and child benefits are being slashed… it all amounts to a future Ireland where the countryside is depopulated and the cities are filled with immigrants — continental Europeans, Asians, Africans, North and South Americans.

Given that this sort of future is more or less an inevitability, I think it is important that we place priority on Innovation, Sustainability, and Heritage. Innovation: the twentieth century industrialized way is not good enough for a future where mankind retains his humanity. Sustainability: good enough for now is not good enough; the decisions that we make (how roads are built, which water treatment to use, how food security is assured, etc.) are necessarily long term decisions, even if we allow ourselves to fall into the self-deception that they are just temporary decisions, and that the long term decision will be made later; the decisions that we make are inevitably long-term decisions. Heritage: while Ireland is becoming increasingly international, it should in no-wise lose touch with the things that make it still a great place to live. Language, culture, family life, respect for land and nature, the significance of history — all of these are summed up in the word Heritage. One of the great things about Heritage, is that it is not just Irish Heritage (although we often begin with Irish Heritage). We all have heritage, whether we know it or not; and if our link to our heritage has been lost, then we need to restore it, as the prerequisite foundational work before anything else we hope to accomplish.

The Value of Being Local

There is real value in being Local, such that those of us who have chosen to make this our home at the same time hope to remain here. Those who remained here generation after generation until now have done so by means of their tenacity, resourcefulness, and even love for the land, in the best cases, and by default in the worse cases; yet still they did hold out.

For those who esteem super-highways and factories belching pollution, then those who remained in this pastoral setting were the less motivated, the less ambitious ones. But for us who despise the metropolis of anonymity and the industrialised measure of man, those who remained demonstrated every admirable quality.

There are two important elements from Irish history which merit discussion. The first is the importance the Volunteers and their involvement in the Irish War for Independence. The second is an important line from the Irish national anthem.

Shannon Ware




Irish Language Learning Resources

1378 days ago

In case I die tonight, you should know these things. Learning Irish is never easy, but it is easier, when you have the right tools. It is the twenty first century for crying out loud! The only thing that remains is the investment of time. Your time.

“Pota Focal is a collection of Irish dictionaries built from” several sources. Pota Focal is able to suggest alternative spellings and shows examples in the “Bilingual glossaries from all the articles ever published in the webzine Beo!”


Irish articles on contemporary topics with an option for inline glossaries (translations of phrases which appear in parenthesis in the sentence).

“Foras na Gaeilge’s New English-Irish Dictionary… is available free of charge, and has been adapted to work both on desktop computers and on mobile devices.” This is a proper English-Irish dictionary with cases, tenses and example phrases.

“ the on-line Dictionary and Language Library, which is being developed by Foras na Gaeilge in parallel with the New English-Irish Dictionary project. The aim of the site is to provide users of the language with free, easy-to-use access to dictionaries and to grammatical and pronunciation information relating to words in the Irish Language.” This is a proper Irish-English dictionary with cases, tenses and example phrases. There is a grammar database and a pronunciation database, speaking spoken pronunciations of thousands of words in Ulster, Connacht and Munster dialects.

It’s not a curse word, its a dictionary. “This is the National Terminology Database for Irish, developed by Fiontar, DCU in collaboration with An Coiste Téarmaíochta, Foras na Gaeilge.” Precise spellings must be entered and alternatives are not suggested. The content tends toward computer, legal and government terminology.

Place Name database for Ireland with spoken pronunciations. “Placenames Database of Ireland, developed by Fiontar (DCU) and The Placenames Branch (Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht).”

“There are 1,715 biographies on this site. All of the featured lives, from 1560 to the present day, had a connection to the Irish language. The contents of the site are based on the series Beathaisnéis by Diarmuid Breathnach and Máire Ní Mhurchú.”


“dú is a project to digitize the National Folklore Collection of Ireland, one of the largest folklore collections in the world. There is 80% (c. 64,000 items) of the material from four counties in the Schools’ Collection available on this site. New material will be made available on a phased basis.”

Verbix Irish (Gaelic) Verb Conjugator

Database of verb conjugations with a subsection for Ireland. The ‘Go’ button on the main search widget seems to be broken.

Forvo – Irish

“All the words in the world. Pronounced.” Database of spoken pronunciations with a subsection for Irish. You can create an account and record word pronunciations if you are a native speaker.

Nuacht 24

Irish language news with an emphasis on the arts and culture.

…and of course, the old standbys,

RTÉ Radio na Gaeltachta

Live radio, radio on demand, and (occasionally) podcasts of Irish language shows. Largely focused on officially Irish speaking areas, but national and international news coverage as well. Hint: ‘Éist anois’ next to the ‘play’ triangle means ‘play now’.


Mostly Irish language television, often with subtitles. Not all shows are available outside Ireland.

First Steps in Irish

By the Christian Brothers
One example of the numerous online Irish language courses. “The following are MP3 files, which will play in most browsers, or may be downloaded and played using
computer applications or in a stand-alone MP3 player. “

Vóta 2014

Shannon Ware


Comment [1]


Irish Democracy Today

1385 days ago

Local and EU parliament elections are about 15 days away; May 23 to be exact. Kate and I are registered to vote, and we intend to do so. I was born and raised in the United States. As Americans, we feel particularly proud of our democracy. It bears saying that democracy in 2014 has marked differences from what it was in 1776. Democracy is a peculiar thing: if it does not evolve, it does not exist. It never evolves in accordance with the vision of one man, or else it is not democracy. It must evolve in accordance with the aggregate will of all the people. It is therefore, in a sense, always out of control.

One of the themes I have seen in the current election is that of ‘eDemocracy’. I have not taken the time to research it, so I don’t know the technical definition, but I think it has to do with some of the things I will share here.

‘You must be on the electoral roll’

I took a bus trip with the local Men’s Shed last Wednesday, and we heard a lecture from the EU Parliament satellite office in Dublin about the EU. What it does, how it works, where it is going. On the coach ride there I saw an electronic billboard that said, basically, ‘Vote’, and ‘make sure you are registered to vote by visiting’. So, upon returning home, I did. It turns out we did not come up in the search on, but a phone call confirmed that Kate and I are in fact registered to vote. The reason being that we are on the supplemental register, since the main register is only updated once a year.

The Irish Political Landscape

Today on the Irish Times I saw a video advertising a,

state-of-the-art, EU-wide voting advice application for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament. The purpose of EUVOX is to help citizens to select the political party that best matches their own policy preferences

After clicking buttons to quickly answer thirty questions, I could see not only where I stood on the major electoral issues of the day, but also where the six main Irish parties stood. Here is a graphical overview:

EU vox party spread

The Future of Democratic Government

Wednesday saw the shock resignation of Ireland’s Minister for Justice. Thursday saw the appointment of his replacement. And with that, the last piece was placed of a puzzle picture that reveals a surprising new reality: “Ireland’s justice system is now completely headed by women.”

Having been raised by my ma and my grandma, I don’t expect this to be a bad thing. I remember reading once someone saying that as democratic institutions become more established, we will see more of them headed by women. Women (speaking in broad terms, which of course don’t always apply) tend to be oriented toward dialogue, consensus building, complex thinking that takes multiple viewpoints into account. This could be that. Time will tell.

Heads of the Irish Justice System

Attorney General Máire Whelan, SC
Claire Loftus, Director of Public Prosecutions
Chief Justice Susan Denham
Noirín O’Sullivan, Interim Garda Commissioner
Eileen Creedon, Chief State Solicitor
Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice
Source: RTE News

Shannon Ware




Update on our Fight to Remain in Ireland

1407 days ago

Hello everyone. This is Shannon. I would like to update you on our fight to remain in Ireland as of today, 15 April 2014. Thank you very much everyone for your support. Many people have stopped me on the street and asked me how things are going, so I thought it would be good to provide a summary for everyone.

Bearwakers In Ireland


Our solicitor has informed us that the Humanitarian Leave to Remain (HLTR) application was lodged on time. The original time forecast for a final decision is a broad ‘between a couple of months and up to six years’. This is because the Department of Justice has no statutory requirement to make a decision on our application within any period of time.

Practically speaking, if we were from a war-torn country, they might put off the decision on our application as long as possible. Because we are from North America, they might want to execute judgement sooner rather than later. So the fact that we have not had a judgement for or against us as of yet I count as good news. Time is on our side, and I believe that with each day that passes, the chances of us being here another day go up as well.

In September 2012 we applied for a change of status from a Stamp 3 to a Stamp 4. This time our solicitor has informed us that the previous application was handled under an ‘ad-hoc administrative procedure’, but our current application is under a ‘statutory procedure’. Which is to say, when the government gets applications like our previous change of status request, they handle them as they see fit. But the HLTR application which we have in now is designated by law; by law the Minister of Justice must review it, and by law all of the representations made on our behalf (all of your letters of support), must be acknowledged and taken into account.


One of our supporter-advisors has recommend that being able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the Irish language would be in our favour during this process. In response, I have taken up the study of Irish more or less full time. Éistimid go leor leor leis Radio na Gaeltachta, et cetera. We approached a couple of Irish language tutors about private tutoring, but with Leaving Certs just 50 days away (!!!) they are too busy to take us on. Perhaps this summer, God willing.


We got a call from our lawyer this morning. The fact that the Irish Region Authority (Údarás na Gaeltachta) said they would support our business of mobile app development back in 2012 is a big deal now. I have asked them to reiterate their support in writing. If they do, it may mean a quick judgement in our favour.

Also, we had interfaced with Enterprise Ireland, Bank of Ireland, and South Kerry Development Partnerships, and they let us know what they want to see from our business (basically, jobs). So if we do get status (leave to remain and permission to register the business), we will do our best to provide quality employment for those willing live in rural Ireland.

The Department of Justice is concerned that if they give us status, we will go on the dole right away. Proving that we can and will support ourselves in the state is secondary to the girls’ integration into the school, but very important nonetheless.


It is a crazy mixed up world where people under threat of deportation would have the right to vote. Welcome to my world. Kate and I have registered to vote in the May elections, and we intend to do so. And you should vote to; not because it will make a difference, but because it is the first step in exercising all of your democratic rights.


In conclusion, as I said, I feel that every day that goes by in which we are here, in a real and practical way increases the likelihood that we will be here yet another day. The discussion seems to have changed from whether or not we should be allowed to stay, to how we would support ourselves should we be allowed to stay. We are enjoying each day that we have, in this beautiful land, with these beautiful people, and taking the opportunity to foghlaim na Gaeilge which we have been given.

Míle buíochas (many thanks),

Shannon Ware




Tá Mé ag Fhoghlaim Gaeilge, Aríst!

1435 days ago

Tá mé ag fhoghlaim Gaeilge.
Ba mhaith liom Gaeilge a lathairt.

TEDx talk by Chris Lonsdale.

Things that don’t matter in language learning:

  • Talent
  • Immersion (per se)

“A drowning man cannot learn to swim.”

What does matter:

Language modeling

  • Attention
  • Meaning
  • Relevance
  • Memory

Five Principles of Rapid Language Acquisition

  1. Focus on language content that is relevant to you.
    We master tools by using tools; we learn tools fastest when they are relevant to us.
  2. Use your New Language as a Tool to Communicate, right from Day 1.
  3. When you first understand the message, you unconsciously acquire the language. “Comprehensible input”; comprehension works; comprehension is key. Language learning is not about accumulating lots of knowledge. In many ways it is about
  4. Physiological Training. “If you can’t hear it, you won’t understand it, and if you don’t understand it, you are not going to learn it. You have to be able to hear the sounds… Speaking requires muscle; if your face is hurting you are doing it right.”
  5. Psychophysiological States matters, and you need to be tolerant of ambiguity.

Seven Actions for Rapid Language Acquisition

Action 1: Listen a lot. “Brain Soaking”
Action 2: Focus on the meaning first. Get the meaning first before you get the words. Use body language. (Understanding through comprehensible input.)
Action 3: Start mixing. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work.”
Action 4: Focus on the core (high frequency content). For English, 1000 words is 85% of anything you are going to say in daily communication; 3000 words gives you 98% of anything you are going to say in daily conversation.

Week 1 Tool Box (in the target language):

  • What is this?
  • How do you say?
  • I don’t understand…
  • What does that mean?
  • Repeat that please.

Week 2-3 Pronouns, Common Verbs, Simple Nouns

Week 4 Glue Words: and, but, therefore, even though

Action 5: Get a Language Parent. Language parent creates a comprehensible input environment.
1. Works hard to understand what you are saying
2. Does not correct mistakes
3. Confirms understanding by using correct language (feedback)
4. Uses words the learner knows
Action 6: Copy the Face
Action 7: “Direct Connect” to Mental Images

Shannon Ware




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