Category: Ireland

Facing the fear: alcohol and mental health conference in Ireland (#facingthefear)

On Wednesday, 20 November 2013, I’ve attended this conference in the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin, Ireland. The conference was organized by alcohol action Ireland. What were the fears that the presenters encouraged us to face? Read about them below

Dr Bobby Smyth started his talk with a brief intro into the ways by which culture and language shape attitudes about drinking – a cultural learning to drink. He saw teens as apprentice adults, learning by observation. The age when they start to drink has gradually lowered during the Irish boom. Who’s fault is that? The alcohol industry and crazy sports sponsorships play a role. Also, “our culture encourages us to drink to overcome low mood”.

Teens learn to wipe on the shoulder of vodka. If they continue to “bathe” their brain in alcohol soup, they are rolling the dice – can we stop it rolling or roll it safely? Dr Smyth provided their book as a guide for dealing with some of these issues (see Fig 1).

One of the key drinking motives is the social motive – alcohol is a social lubricant. This is reflected in the language too. Eskimos are surrounded by snow all year round and have 100 words for it. There are 120 words for the state of alcohol intoxication in Ireland. People have stopped having fun sober. Moral language of industry-sponsored sites is often substituted for more effective strategies. Slogans like drink sensibly can hardly foster behavior change.

Prof Ella Arensman spoke about the focused on health& women, especially on the seasonal patterns of self-harm and public holidays.

Dr Conor Farren addressed the relationship between alcohol and mental health issues, including depression. He also showcased his book (see Fig 2).

Dr Philip McGarry spoke about alcohol’s impact on mental health in Northern Ireland.

After lunch, the delegates came back for a panel discussion featuring Dr Claire Hayes, John Higgins and Fr Pat Seaver.

Watch the speakers’ presentations here

7th All Ireland Poetry Slam Championship final

Monday 9th December 2013 – 7th All Ireland Poetry Slam Championship final

Venue: North Beach Poetry Nights in The Crane Bar, Sea Road, at 6.30pm

Galway, Connacht

Ireland’s eight 2013/14 slam champions – 2 each who won the 4 regional heats – go head-to-head for the prestigious title of All Ireland Live Poetry Slam Champion 2013/14.

Two weeks in advance of the slam, the information about this prime event of Irish poetry is scarce.

As a response to this vacuum, this blog collates everything that I could find today on the web about this slam.

The facebook pageof the slam describes: “Open live poetry competition. Six province heats. Eight poets, four Province Champions, compete in rotating All Ireland poet slam final. Samhain, Nov/Dec. Eight poets, two from Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster, winners of open-heats in Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, the sixth all Ireland slam championship final, the second in Munster, Samhain, Oct/Nov, Cork.”

“The All Ireland Poetry Slam Championships are in their seventh year. We began in 2007, and since then have held annual provincial heats in six cities, Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, which return eight finalists, two from each province, who then go forward into a rotating final modelled on the idea of the old ollamh (poetry professor) circuit.

The competition is run by Ireland’s most well respected grass roots poetry organisers with a wealth of experience in hosting live poetry events across the island of Ireland. By the third year we have been pretty much well established and the competition is wholly democratic, transparent, and open to all.

Regional heats are held in the above six cities at the end of the summer and this year’s turn at hosting the final is Connacht, in Galway on 16th December, hosted by North Beach Nights’ John Walsh.

Last year’s final was the biggest yet, with 250 people witnessing it in Cypress Avenue, Cork, hosted by Ó Bhéal. Last year we also published, for the first time, the 14 poems recited on the night, in a special edition run of 100 chapbooks. We managed this because we crowd sourced 1000 euro funding. Up till last year the competition had been run on the goodwill and generosity of its organisers and so this year is hoping to secure funding that will raise the profile even more and make the event more visible.

A wide range of poets have won, some going on to bigger and brighter things, 2010 Champion Colm Keegan is a regular on RTE Arena, along with previous Leinster champions Karl Parkinson and John Cummins.

Two winners, 2008 champion Donal O’ Siadhach and 2011 champion Séamuas Barra Ó Suilleabháin, won reciting as Gaeilge.

This competition is a genuine grass roots phenomenon, enabling poets to share and compete in a truly democratic forum and has played a vital part in many poets development. Most countries national Slam projects are well supported by the various arts councils but Ireland is special in that it has evolved from the ground up, with no funding whatsoever until last year; proving our commitment to grass roots poetry advocacy.

The regional organisers are:

Source: unnamed alcohol industry

 

“Congratulations to the new 2013/14 Leinster Poetry Slam Champions John Cummins and John Moynes (watch rec. below), who will join: 

2013/13 Munster Slam Champions

Fergus Costello (Tipperary)

Julie Fields (Cork)

 
Ulster Slam Champions 

Colin Hassard (winner of the Belfast heat) 

Geraldine O’Kane (winner of Derry/Londonderry heat))

Connacht Slam Champions

To Be Decided

@The 2013 All Ireland Poetry Slam Final, North Beach Nights, Galway, Monday 9th December 2013.

Thanks very much to Aidan Murphy of Monday Echo for organising the event and Kit Fryatt of Wurm Press for co-hosting with Aidan.” source: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ireland-Poetry-Slam/338399146209479

“I just got confirmation of the date from John Walsh for the 7th All Ireland Slam Final and it is Monday December 9th 2013.

9th December 2013 – 7th All Ireland Poetry Slam Championship final, North Beach Nights, Galway, Connacht. Ireland’s eight 2013/14 slam champions, two each who won the Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster Heats, go head to head for what’s in the pot and a prestigious title of All Ireland Live Poetry Slam Champion 2013/14.” source: https://www.facebook.com/desmond.swords

See also:

The David and Goliath tour: Gladwell live in Dublin

The unmissable Malcolm Gladwell showcased his book in RDS hall, Dublin, on 1 November 2013. After the show, he signed hundreds of books for his perserverant fans.

David and GoliathI’ve got it. His face was much paler than his photos on the book covers. After 27 minutes of queuing and reading the 1st chapter of his most recent book, I got Malcolm Gladwell’s signature. I waited patiently as hundreds of people in the queue ahead of me got their books signed and photographs taken. When he finished, he said to me: “These two are yours?” and the magical moment passed away.

Cycling back home, I passed by the US embassy where I got my visas for the sabbatical in Portland, Oregon, only 9 months ago. I loved Portland and thought it was a strange coincidence when I met Malcolm personally just next door from a place where my latest life story started. The cycle closed.

Pondering these coincidences, I almost hit a jaywalker. Jaywalking in Ireland is the norm and it illustrates one of the key points of Gladwell’s talk – the principle of legitimacy.

Malcolm lectured about why people obey rules or become radical. Citing from his new book, he argued that people will comply with the system if they believe it’s legitimate. 

“Legitimacy is based on fairness, voice and legitimacy” (p.293) he continues: ”People accept authority when they see that it treats everyone equally, when it is possible to speak up and be heard, and when there are rules in place” that don’t change radically from day to day.


Irish pedestrians must be convinced that the traffic lights system is not legitimate and that one must jaywalk to get where they want to be in time. There must be something seriously wrong with the traffic lights in Dublin if they are disrespected there, but respected in most other countries. In fact, the pedestrian lights have 3 symbols instead of 2 – one more than most countries. There is an orange-coloured light between the red& green lights. The green light is very short an orange flashes for the most of the walking interval. See figure below 

The 2nd principle of legitimacy theory says that people will break the rules if they don’t see the negative consequences of breaking the law as outweighing the benefits of obeying the rules. The enforcement of traffic light law for pedestrians in Dublin is virtually non-existent. Jaywalking will remain legitimate in Dublin until the system becomes more legitimate.

Literature:

Gladwell, M (2013). David and Goliath. Penguin books
Tyler, T (2006). Why people obey the law. Princeton University Press
Kennedy, D (2008). Deference and crime prevention. Routlege

Sherman, L (2006). Evidence-based crime prevention. Routlege

Life in migrant flats

People in my apartment block are mostly immigrants, like me, but they don’t greet me. I live here four years and I don’t have any friends among the expatriates. When I came back from my fellowship, I asked myself why this happens.

There is a lot of diversity in migrant flats. People speak different languages, cook different dishes and have different habits. Coming back from work, night after night, I smell all sorts of exotic foods on our floor. Yes, that’s the thing about emigrants – they like their own food which is missing in the local cuisine. Many have also little money to afford fancy exotic restaurants. The combination of a desire for a familiar dish, combined with low income, results in higher frequency of emigrant cooking compared to host nationals. On the other hand, Irish too cooked their stews during the massive exodus to US in the 19th century. Cabbage smell was a clear sign of the Irish neighbourhood.

I may expect too much from my fellow emigrants. Many of us live in tight conditions. Our living quarters are small, often packed with children and other close or distant relatives who need a temporary shelter in the new country. Our jobs pay low. Despite the job equality, the same level of education and experience don’t guarantee us the position, and locals get these jobs easier. Adjusting to life in a new country is tough. The intercultural differences make it hard to feel good and homesickness is common. Some cultures are open towards strangers while others are guarded. The culture motley obscures navigation in the interpersonal domain and staying quiet is the safest option. Apart from the cultural differences, language may be a barrier for some. These issues create a lot of pressure on the newcomers. Smiling and saying Hi to your neighbours may be just too much to ask. Emigrant’s life is hard and progress is slow.

I saw nothing of this until I returned from Portland, OR. The time and distance created a bird’s perspective from which I’m able to see life back in our flats differently. Before, this was the norm – now, I see that life can be different. People can interact differently. Talking to strangers is not a sin. The fellowship in U.S. taught me a lesson about openness and talking to strangers, getting to know them and making friends. It makes life nicer.

How much charity is too much?

For the third year now, a charity project in Dublin 8 (www.swicn.ie) provides free English conversational classes to people from various countries. The project’s backbones are volunteers from the Failte Isteach programme. One day, the project recruited a very interesting man for the voluntary teacher position. He is a Social welfare officer, who deals with people in difficult life situations every day. Many of them are not from Ireland. One would think that he has enough of commendable work at his day job. What astounded me most about this story is that this man is willing to volunteer after work to improve the lives of people he deals with in his day job. How much charity is too much?

What are the free English classes?

On 29 September 2011, a popular RTE television reporter Anne Cassin visited some unusual projects in Dublin and met volunteers. Capital D programme went behind the scenes of Dublin community projects; to find out more about the show — watch this video from minute 20:00 here.

Irish TV programme (www.rte.ie) about free English classes in Dublin 8. Watch online

What are Third Age and Fáilte Isteach?

Fáilte Isteach is a programme of the Third Age agency in Dublin. “There are many sectors of Irish society in need of welcoming, nurturing and support, particularly our migrants who may struggle with proficiency in English. To tackle this, volunteers throughout the country provide English conversational classes to people of varying national backgrounds, many of whom may be floundering as they try to communicate with the indigenous population” Read more at

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0308/1224313002597.html

More info on SWICN projects:
Homepage: www.swicn.ie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/South-West-Inner-City-Network-SWICN/179471358755154