Ireland, a Nation of Story Tellers and Poets (and Pubs)

‘This is my HOMELAND’, a home on the bleak landscape of the Donegal Peninsula in the Republic of Ireland.

This is my HOMELAND, a home on the bleak landscape of the Donegal Peninsula in Ireland

Ireland is a nation of story tellers and poets.

It started early with this Ogham script on slate stones on the Dingle Peninsula. The sign says: “Ogham writing is the oldest Celtic writing in the world. Each letter of the alphabet is a stroke or a series of strokes positioned along a central line, and is read from the bottom upwards.” This script means ‘Slainte’, or Good Health, the standard Irish saying when saluting each other with a pint of beer in a pub.Ogham writing, the earliest form of Celtic writing found on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, run through the photo app StackablesOne of the best ways (for me) to learn of Ireland’s literary history was to go on a literary pub tour. It was there I learned some of the words of James Joyce and was therefore able to identify this quote amidst a pile of sticker graffiti in Dublin’s Temple Bar district.

“…and yes
I said yes
I will yes”

Quote from James Joyce’s Ulysses along with some graffiti in the Temple Bar District.A quote from James Joyce in Dublin's Temple Bar DistrictA red door in Dublin with a message: “You risk your life for a quick fix”.You risk your life for a quick fixChalk graffiti in Galway advises, ‘Open your eyes and see the truth’, the fully open eyes being images of the planet earth.
Graffiti eyes in Galway, IrelandSeries of posters in Galway telling a story, captioned ‘Who do you think you are?’, the last image being a small green seedling growing out of a broken head. 
Art Poster Graffiti in Galway, IrelandThe primary tourist sight in Galway was the local museum dedicated to local lore. Here is a poster of local superstitions about going out to sea, and superstition #1 is ‘Do not go out to sea if you meet a red-haired woman’, something that likely happens a lot in Ireland. I suppose that if you do meet a red-haired woman one morning you should just go to the pub with her instead.Irish superstitions at the Museum in Galway, IrelandIn an afternoon wander around Kilkenny we spotted the Hole-in-the-Wall Pub hidden away down a narrow alley. Of course, being Ireland, there is a poem about the pub…Hole-in-the-Wall Pub saying on a chalkboard in the pub of the same name in Kilkenny, IrelandSpeaking of pubs, here’s the ‘door policy’ posted at The Garrick Bar, a Belfast pub. Not a literary masterpiece but, being Ireland, I’m sure there’s a story behind every rule. The 'door policy' posted on The Garrick, a Belfast pubAlso in Belfast I found these posters pasted over top of previous series of art posters. The new bright posters feature prominent Belfast sights, and have poems about planting: ‘Seeds grow in the cupped hands of patient children and shoot from inside pockets, out of sleeves and collars’, ‘Instead the city plants for lemons’ and ‘Within the year the luminescent cache of fruit is promised to be vast enough to displace the night’. 
Belfast PostersStencil spray art of a man putting a gun to his grenade head on a red wall in Belfast, no words but the message is loud and clear. Spray art of a grenade head on a red wall in Belfast, IrelandMore ‘messages’ at Wind Kisses Lens-Artists Photo Challenge of the Week: Messages.


19 responses to “Ireland, a Nation of Story Tellers and Poets (and Pubs)

  1. I loved every bit of this. I have visited all the towns you mentioned and now feel like I have missed out on some fun. The history, the stories, the Irish humor I love, are all an impressive presentation of messages.

    Love the way you started us with the Slainte’ piece and led us to the pubs. lol My favorite photo was the eyes, favorite story the redhead, and favorite saying the Kilkenny! Outstanding! Sadly, you speak the truth about Belfast, Thanks for coming along.

    • Looking at unsanctioned street art is yet another way to travel through a country, a way to see how it’s functioning at that time. The images of growing, of fragile seedlings turning into an abundance of light os very hopeful…

  2. Interesting that one can learn so much about a place from the street art. I’ve found the same thing in my multiple visits to NYC. Some places have more/better storytellers/artists than others. I remember the same thing in Scotland and thought about featuring them in my response but went a different way. Loved your choices this week Elizabeth!

    • I haven’t been to Scotland in eons (i.e. before digital). It would be very interesting to go back and see how the ‘street’ culture had changed. The only other place I’ve found with powerful street art is Mexico, but there it is mostly political and protest art, something that I thought would have shown up in both Irelands, but didn’t. Let me know when you put up your Scottish street art post!

  3. Pingback: LENS-ARTISTS CHALLENGE #234 – Messages Pt. 2 – John's Space …..·

  4. What an excellent response to the challenge, Elizabeth, both informative and interesting. In the mid-seventies I was in Ireland, my first time overseas and while “the Troubles” were going on. Interesting times and that last photo reminds me that things still aren’t truly over.


    • The only time I have spent in Ireland was that month in 2015, and it seemed to me to be a much happier time, even in Belfast. However, hidden pain is still pain, and since the troubles are within the living memory of many people I am sure that it is not really over except perhaps in young people who haven’t experienced it in their lifetimes. What a time for you to be travelling in Ireland…

  5. Enjoyed your story here. Sadly, I never had the chance to visit Ireland. Learned just recently of probably the greatest invention – and it came from Ireland. Spaces in text, between words. In ancient times all text ran together, reading was hard. Irish monks invented that new way of writing and reading. Tip o’ the hat!

  6. A brilliant post, Elizabeth! Loved it from start to end. So much to learn from a literary pub tour. I feel I should have payed more attention to pubs when I was in Ireland. But we want to go back there again, there is much more to see. One of my favourite authors is in fact G.B Shaw.

    • The pubs are indeed a rather essential part of Ireland. The literary pub tour was a lot of fun, with two actors playing out parts of plays, poems and stories; they may even have a tour that specializes in G.B. Shaw. We also explored historic pubs and what they call ‘crafty’ pubs, with some excellent craft beers, and great food as well. What we missed, until we were in Doolin, was the musical pubs, and those are amazing as well. Even though we were a full 30 days in Ireland I definitely want to go back too; there was so much to go back to see, and we only hit a small fraction of the pubs in Dublin where there are supposed to be 800 or so!

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