Friday, 29 April 2016


Last night, I dreamt of you again.
A warm dream, a dream of comfort,
A dream of memory.

I held you.
Perhaps you held me,
And I knew love gain,
I knew happiness.

And then with the sun,
And the singing of garden birds,
I awoke to loneliness.
You had gone;
And I was cold.

Daniel B. Griffth the Chattering Magpie © 2015


Walking on velvet green. Scots pine growing.
Isn't it rare to be taking the air, singing.
Walking on velvet green.
Walking on velvet green. Distant cows lowing.
Never a care: with your legs in the air, loving.
Walking on velvet green.

Won't you have my company, yes, take it in your hands.
Go down on velvet green, with a country man.
Who's a young girls fancy and an old maid's dream.
Tell your mother that you walked all night on velvet green.

One dusky half-hour's ride up to the north.
There lies your reputation and all that you're worth.
Where the scent of wild roses turns the milk to cream.
Tell your mother that you walked all night on velvet green.

And the long grass blows in the evening cool.
And August's rare delight may be April's fool.
But think not of that, my love,
I'm tight against the seam.
And I'm growing up to meet you down on velvet green.

Now I may tell you that it's love and not just lust.
And if we live the lie, let's lie in trust.
On golden daffodils, to catch the silver stream,
That washes out the wild oat seed on velvet green.

We'll dream as lovers under the stars,
Of civilizations raging afar.
And the ragged dawn breaks on your battle scars.
As you walk home cold and alone upon velvet green.

Walking on velvet green. Scots pine growing.
Isn't it rare to be taking the air, singing.
Walking on velvet green.
Walking on velvet green. Distant cows lowing.
Never a care: with your legs in the air, loving.
Walking on velvet green.

Writer(s): Ian Scott Anderson/Ian Anderson
Copyright: The Ian Anderson Group of Companies Ltd.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


20th June 1841 Sydney, New South Wales.

My dear father and Mother,

I have taken the opportunity of writing you these lines trusting the same will find you both in good health, Brothers and sisters, and all relations and enquiring friends, as it leaves me by the blessing of God in good health at present. I received your affectionate letters, and on account of being removed from my master prevented in answering your letters, my reasons for leaving my master, was that he objected to sign his name for my liberty.

It gave me great pleasure in one way of hearing from you and I was very much grieved of hearing the death of my Uncle, and my cousin Elizabeth but, I trust they are gone to a better world, in which they will enjoy everlasting happiness.

It was your particular wish to know the present state of the colony in regard of wages. If I was free I could get from thirty five pounds at least to forty pounds per year. I have been offered lately one pound per week and rations I have been engaged with a master at Wollongong. Soon even I am free and that will be on the 14th of October. I am very happy to think you have the intention of coming over, and there is not the least doubt of your doing well, provisions are very cheap – according to the wages. I am happy to hear from you, that I have learnt from difference Branches, since I have been in the colony.

Should I have the pleasure of meeting you again in the colony, I shall be able to make you comfortable and happy all days of your lives. I have given up the thought of returning home, on account of your having the intention of coming out here, and it will give me a great consolation of seeing after so long a time, and if you have got a neighbour that would like to come, come all together and not have the least danger in crossing the ocean for it is a delightful passage a person can take by cutter.

I conclude with my kind love to my brother, William and my sister Elizabeth and likewise to young Charles, and to the rest of the family and all relatives and friends, God be with you wishing you all prosperity and happiness trusting to the helps of a merciful providence of seeing you all out here. In the cause of twelve months.

From your affectionate son, James Foster.

Send me an answer if you intend leaving, before you sail so that I may know you are coming.


Friday, 22 April 2016


Have you seen Jack-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree,
In the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup
The dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground,
Signals the snowdrops it's time to grow.

It's no fun being Jack-In-The-Green,
No place to dance, no time for song.
He wears the colours of the summer soldier,
Carries the green flag all the winter long.

Jack, do you never sleep,
Does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
Motorways, powerlines,
Keep us apart?
Well, I don't think so,
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.

The rowan, the oak and the holly tree,
Are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter's night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming.
Jack, put out the light.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


“Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to.” Mitch Albom.

At the centenary of the Easter Rising and the second year of the Great War, we can perhaps ask ourselves how true is the above quote? Is sacrifice always desirable and should it never be regretted? The year 1916 was a year of sacrifice, as across Europe and the World a futile conflict saw the shameful waste of the flower of youth. From numerous countries young men and women became involved in a conflagration of then unprecedented proportions, the first truly global conflict, the First World War.

Ireland had been unsettled for decades if not centuries, civil disobedience, violence and open rebellion were a symptom of the disquiet. The wish for independence, even if not universally supported, was never far from the surface of Irish society. It is perhaps a cliché to describe Ireland in 1916 as a powder keg awaiting ignition but it is an apt description which captures the mood of the times.

The Rising began on Easter Monday the 24th of April 1916 and lasted for six days. Patrick Pearse led the Irish Volunteers, they were joined by the Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly and approximately 200 members of Cumann na mBan. Together they seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic, making the General Post Office of Dublin their headquarters.

The military commander of the rising was James Connolly and the four other members of the Military Council were Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke, Seán Mac Dermott and Joseph Plunkett. It was Patrick Pearse who standing on the steps of the General Post Office and surrounded by his comrades, read the proclamation of the Provisional Government of the Irish republic to the People of Ireland:

“Irishman and Irishwomen: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organized and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organization, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organizations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State. And we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irish woman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities of all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provision Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called. Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government”

The proclamation itself was signed by Thomas J. Clarke, Sean Mac Diermada, Thomas Macdonagh, P.H.Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett. The document was dated Easter Monday, April 24th 1916.

The rebels seized a variety of key points within Dublin but failed in securing others due partly to lack of numbers and partly, due to some disorganisation. Outside of the Dublin the Rising was small, uncoordinated and bar one or two notable exceptions (such as the Ashbourne Rising of County Neath), failed to cause the British establishment any major discomfort. This left Dublin as centre stage for a tragedy that has affected Anglo-Irish relations ever since.

The first day was typified by only sporadic fighting, as the British were left unprepared, taken by surprise, they at first responded to the emergency with investigatory patrols. The death toll therefore remained relatively small on that first day but the tally would inevitably grow. The first civilian causality is believed to have been a uniformed nurse by the name of Margaret Keogh. She was shot accidently by British troops during an engagement near the South Dublin Union Workhouse.

By Tuesday evening the British response became a more coordinated and determined operation, martial law was declared and command handed over to Brigadier-General Lowe. Lowe was unsure of the numbers involved in the uprising and his response was slow, careful but planned. Identified Rebel strongpoints were over the course of the next few days bombarded and frontal attacks became better coordinated. The Rebels were no less lacking in their determination and the death toll including that of civilians, climbed alarmingly.

During the course of the week British troops arrived from England to join reinforcements transferred from outside Dublin. This would eventually bring Lowe’s force to 16,000 men, the Rebel numbers are unlikely to have exceeded 1,500. Selected Rebel positions were bombarded by the patrol vessel ‘Helga’ on the River Liffey and as the weekend approached, the position of the Rebels had become untenable. The surrender which came on Saturday the 29th of April 1916 was perhaps inevitable.

The Easter Rebellion was by those within the British establishment regarded as a betrayal. An act of treason when the Empire itself was threatened, locked in a life and death struggle with other Imperial powers. The alternative perspective was to regard the war on the Western Front and elsewhere, as a waste of human life in a conflict devoid of meaning.

Sixteen surviving members of the Rising were tried and executed over the course of the coming weeks. This included all seven signatories of the Declaration of Independence and the younger brother of Patrick Pearse. Willie Pearse played only a minor role in the Rising and his execution has often been described as an act of British revenge.

This failure to recognise those involved in the Rising as prisoners of war, together with alleged British war crimes that included the shooting of non-combatants, such as the pacifist politician Francis Sheehy-Skeffington; did serious harm to the British position at home and abroad. Public opinion in Ireland itself, which originally was not universally supportive of the Rising, changed perceivably in the coming weeks.

This perceived heavy handling of the aftermath of the Rising by the British authorities, resulted in a swing towards support for an independent Ireland and a radicalisation of Irish youth. These and other factors that brought about an ever increasing anti-British feeling, would eventually lead to the Irish War of Independence.

The Easter Rising was a declaration of the right to self-determination by a nation and its people. Today when we see the discussion of International Trade Agreements and the future of the European Union, that principle is as relevant today as it was in 1916.

Prior to the Easter Rising, the Irish people had made numerous sacrifices for their nation. The Rising, the following War of Independence and the resulting Civil War, would see many, many more. The Emerald Ireland had been awash in blood for centuries and would be for years to come.

The sacrifice of those who fought in the Rising, were executed later and those that would die in the future wars, is a tangible part of Irish culture today. To understand Irish spirituality, one need only look at how the people of Ireland view their past. It is in folklore, myth and legend, that the Irish Gods and Saints are remembered, venerated and celebrated.

Yet equally an intrinsic part of Irish culture, is an awareness of the ‘Ancestors’ in blood and in spirit. From the ancient monuments of Ireland’s Iron Age past to the wars of the twentieth century, the people of today remember the people of the past. The Seven who signed the Declaration of Independence, those nine others that were executed with them and those that died in the Rising, have joined the ‘Ancestors’ and today hold a place of special veneration for the modern Irish Nation. There are many nations that could learn from Ireland, how to stand with pride with one eye on the past and another on the future.


Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.