Sunday, February 25, 2007

Rugby Six-Nations

This past Saturday marked the first time since 1920, that English Rugby (or any British sport) was allowed to be played on the grounds of Croke Park Stadium - the same location where 87 years ago English soldiers marched on to the pitch and shot 14 Irish citizens. The cause of the shootings was an eye-for-an eye response to the same-day assassination of 14 British secret agents by the IRA. Bloody Sunday. (Note: not to be confused with the Bloody Sunday of 1913 or the other one of 1973 - generally if anything lousy is going to happen here, it's on a sunday).

The 1920 event is the reason for the Gaelic Athletic Association's determination to ban all 'British' sport and strictly allow only Gaelic games within Croke Park. That list is pretty short: Irish Rugby, Hurling, Camogie, Rounders, Feile na Gael, and Feile Paile na nOg (sorry this one's reaaally obscure - no image to show, but you can probably guess it involves whacking a ball with a stick). This single match has slightly opened the doors towards the Old Enemy and the President of the GAA is pushing for new planning regulations for the stadium to fully allow for British sport to be played in Croke Park. It kind of feels like an invisible wall is slowly coming apart day-by-day here.

Needless to say, Dublin was swelling with emotion on Saturday. Every pub with a tv screen was jam packed with people wearing their rugby jerseys and scarves. Choppers were hovering the city centre and the stadium. People were just in a rush to get shopping or errands done before the game. Unfortunately, tickets to the game weren't quite as easy to get a hold of this time around as sales started inflating months ago from 300 euro and up. A last check on ebay before the game showed tickets at 1,200 to about 2,400 euro!

On my way to finding a good a bar to watch the game I was just a few minutes late for the opening kickoff, and those few minutes were dead silence in the streets. When I arrived at the Church Bar (a church converted into a pub - which says a bit about the state of the Church here these days), I could hear people chanting the national anthem through the building. I'd have make the assumption that being an Irish person hearing 'God Save the Queen' being sung in Croke Park is bit more stirring. I haven't heard how the coaches or teams approached the game, but it's hard to imagine that either side treated it as regular match. Regardless, one side must have taken it more seriously, as the result ended up to be an absolute rout. The Irish team squashed England 41-13. Even so, with every goal the city was shaking. Even though there was hardly any competition this is exactly what Ireland has been waiting for, for years. I wonder if Tony Blair was in the English dressing room before the game...'Ok, so we've been a liiiittle rough on those blokes over the years - maybe just go a little easy on 'em alright lads? Jolly good, have a smashing good match.'

Afterwards, I kicked things off oldschool at Agnieszka's 80's party (Polish friend from work). Morgan, your humming of 'Like a Virgin' was pretty good in comparison to the Polish karaoke equivalent :P . It was a fun time, and I was fully impressed by the 1,100 purely 80's tracks on queue in a single playlist. Who has that? Amazing.

On Saturday, I'm off to Portugal with Jessie! She's meeting me here on Friday and we take off bright and early the next day till the following Sunday and all that's planned is serious relaxation in the sun. Will have plenty of pics and maybe the odd sketch to show when I get back.

Hope all is well back home. Have been reading CBC news frequently, watching 'Little Mosque on the Prairies' and playing my Canadian tunes non-stop for the past few weeks, I guess that means I'm staaaarting to get a wee bit homesick...Go Team!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Badly Drawn Boy Concert

...two nearly identical and incredibly exciting pictures from the Badly Drawn Boy Concert on Sunday night at the Olympia Theatre.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Mime Off

I never thought I'd see a Mime-off in my life, but today I witnessed such a thing at Grafton Street. You'd think the Statue of Liberty mime with 'Peace', 'Freedom', and 'Stop War' plastered all over its pedestal would draw the odd passerby and a generous coin toss, but apparently not so. Right next to the Statue of Liberty was a mime devilishly dressed who was making a killing off the good Irish Catholics. As it turns out, the noble act of sponsoring peace and freedom just wasn't quite as hot a pitch. This all turned into the ultimate 'Laugh with the sinners or cry with the saints' scenario...and as you may have guessed while distantly humming Billy Joel, the 'sinners are much more fun'.
Sinners 1, Good Irish Catholics 0.