The king­dom of Scot­land and Ire­land?

Irish Daily Mail - - Travel Plus -

THE BROTH­ERS BRUCE

Out­law King, a new film just re­leased, is a his­tor­i­cal drama about Robert the Bruce, di­rected by David Macken­zie. It fea­tures the fine US ac­tor Chris Pine in the ti­tle role. Ap­par­ently his Scot­tish ac­cent is im­pec­ca­ble – he hasn’t, it seems, stud­ied at the Dick Van Dyke Academy of Re­gional Ac­cents.

You have to feel sorry for Robert’s younger brother Ed­ward, all the same. He seems to be en­tirely for­got­ten by his­tory, even though he wanted to be King of Ire­land.

No films of him are in the pipe­line – de­spite it be­ing the 700th an­niver­sary of his death last month.

Ed­ward Bruce is buried near Faugh­art in County Louth, and of course in the bor­der ar­eas 700 years ago might as well be last week­end. None­the­less, very few peo­ple ever make a pil­grim­age to his grave over­look­ing the ef­fort­lessly beau­ti­ful Coo­ley Penin­sula.

The brother, oh yes, every­body re­mem­bers his visit to Ire­land. Ac­cord­ing to leg­end Robert’s fa­mous en­counter with a spi­der took place on Rath­lin Is­land.

In hid­ing, his spir­its were low – and he was tempted to give up the bat­tle for Scot­land. But a spi­der’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to spin a web in­spired Bruce to re­turn home. He sub­se­quently headed back to Scot­land, where the English were in­dulging in light slaugh­ter, and sorted it.

Mean­while Ed­ward was busy, try­ing to en­list the help of Ir­ish chiefs in his con­tin­u­ing bat­tles against the English. He was killed at the Bat­tle of Faugh­art in 1318, and is buried near the shrine to lo­cal woman St Brigid.

The view from Faugh­art, which Ed­ward prob­a­bly didn’t have time to savour, is spell­bind­ing – north to Slieve Gul­lion, and south to the plain of Murthiene and on to the Coo­ley Moun­tains. There is a stone near his grave, which, ac­cord­ing to leg­end, was used to de­cap­i­tate him.

Mean­while Out­law King is on gen­eral re­lease. Oddly enough it came out just as it was an­nounced that Robert the Bruce was born in Es­sex and not Ayr­shire as gen­er­ally be­lieved.

For­mer Stir­ling Uni­ver­sity aca­demic Dr Fiona Wat­son is of the opin­ion that Robert was from a vil­lage to the east of Lon­don. So by rights he should be played, not by US ac­tor Chris Pine, but some­body like Phil Mitchell.

YA BIG HAM YA

TWO ar­gu­ing chefs at the Sony head­quar­ters in Lon­don brought the area to a stand­still re­cently as em­ploy­ees and pop stars in­side feared that the ar­gu­ing cooks were in fact a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

It seems that one of the chefs had be­come in­censed with the be­hav­iour of the other and had stabbed him in the back­side.

Mean­while, be­cause of the shout­ing, celebri­ties and staff poured from the build­ing. Po­lice ar­rived, and one chef was ar­rested.

Yep, chefs can be un­pre­dictable. I re­mem­ber en­joy­ing a drink one evening at a ho­tel in the depths of ru­ral Of­faly. In the din­ing area a fly had landed on a slab of ham on the counter.

The chef took the big­gest meat cleaver I’d ever seen and with a great wal­lop flat­tened the hap­less fly onto the ham. “Ah, we’re fierce par­tic­u­lar about hy­giene round here,” he ex­plained.

Still, at least it didn’t start a ter­ror alert.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR

Hong Kong-Zhuhai, the world’s long­est sea-bridge has just opened, link­ing Hong Kong to main­land China via Ma­cau.

It’s 55 kilo­me­tres long, and is equipped with spe­cial cam­eras on the look-out for driv­ers who show signs of get­ting sleepy – yawn three times and the au­thor­i­ties will be on your tail.

But this en­gi­neer­ing feat begs the ques­tion – if the Chi­nese can build a bridge over 55 kilo­me­tres, surely we could build one across the Ir­ish Sea?

Af­ter all, it isn’t even 20 kilo­me­tres at its nar­row­est point.

Cer­tainly there isn’t quite as much trade be­tween, say, the vil­lage of Largiebaan on the Mull of Kin­tyre and the town­land of Lis­bel­lana­groagh Beg in Co. Antrim as there is be­tween Hong Kong and China, but it would still be a boon for the folks in those ar­eas.

And what with more and more Chi­nese tourists vis­it­ing Ire­land – maybe we ask them to build it.

GIFT GUIDE

AMA­ZON has help­fully sent this col­umn a re­minder that I still have time to buy a lux­ury cal­en­dar for 2019 that will be a great aid ‘to a lux­u­ri­ous life­style’. I sup­pose my idea of what con­sti­tutes lux­ury com­pared to Ama­zon’s is quite dif­fer­ent.

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

A mys­te­ri­ous cigar-shaped ob­ject spot­ted tum­bling through our so­lar sys­tem last year may have been an alien space­craft sent to in­ves­ti­gate Earth, as­tronomers from Har­vard Uni­ver­sity have sug­gested.

The ob­ject, nick­named ‘Ou­mua­mua’ was spot­ted just over a year ago in Oc­to­ber 2017.

Since its dis­cov­ery, sci­en­tists have been puz­zling over its pre­cise ori­gins, with re­searchers first call­ing it a comet, then an as­teroid, and fi­nally a new class of ‘in­ter­stel­lar ob­jects’.

But a study at the Har­vard Smith­so­nian Cen­ter for Astro­physics raises the pos­si­bil­ity that the elon­gated ob­ject, trav­el­ling at speeds of 196,000 mph, might have an ‘ar­ti­fi­cial ori­gin.’

In other words, aliens on a day trip.

‘Ou­mua­mua may be a fully oper­a­tional probe sent in­ten­tion­ally to Earth vicin­ity by an alien civil­i­sa­tion,’ re­searchers con­cluded in the pa­per, sub­mit­ted to the Astro­phys­i­cal Jour­nal Let­ters. But there is an­other pos­si­bil­ity, I sup­pose. It might just have been a cigar.

A MU­SEUM PIECE

In Lon­don for a few days, I went to one of the great li­braries of the world, the British Li­brary.

Should you be in the vicin­ity in the next few months pop in to see their An­glo-Saxon King­doms: Art, Word, War.

High­lights in­clude the il­lu­mi­nated Lind­is­farne Gospels, the Domes­day Book and the 8th cen­tury Book of Dur­row. The ex­hi­bi­tion con­tin­ues un­til Fe­bru­ary 19. While there I also came across a 25carat glob­ule of trivia in one of the news­pa­per ar­chives.

It seems that one Padraic Ó Con­aire, born in Gal­way in 1882, spent most of his child­hood in the Con­nemara Gaeltacht, learn­ing to speak Ir­ish flu­ently. He em­i­grated to Lon­don in 1899, land­ing a job with the-then British Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Now, at the time the pos­ses­sion of a uni­ver­sity de­gree en­ti­tled a British civil ser­vant to ex­tra re­mu­ner­a­tion, so as Pa­trick Con­roy, the Gal­way man, ap­proached Lon­don Uni­ver­sity so that he could sit a de­gree pa­per in Ir­ish.

The uni­ver­sity con­tacted Dr Dou­glas Hyde, who ad­vised them he knew a Gaelic scholar called Padraic Ó Con­aire.

The up­shot was that, pos­si­bly for the first time in aca­demic his­tory, a can­di­date set, sat and ex­am­ined his own pa­per, re­ceiv­ing a first. A very fine method for mak­ing sure you get max­i­mum re­sults in an exam, but what you might call a niche hint.

HERB WOR­RIES OVER

For­tu­nately, af­ter last year’s tar­ragon scare, Ir­ish super­mar­kets are re­port­ing that the short­age in the global sup­ply of this sea­son’s tar­ragon looks OK.

Which means that once again we’ll be able to cook .... er... erm... ac­tu­ally, on sec­ond thoughts, I don’t think it’s go­ing to make much dif­fer­ence to us.

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