Monday, 8 December 2014

Patrick O'Sullivan, ed., The Irish World Wide - 4000 downloads

At the beginning of this year, 2014, I made available the texts of...

The Irish World Wide, History, Heritage, Identity,
6 Volumes,  Edited by Patrick O'Sullivan

on this free MediaFire web storage site...

In fact, working out where to put the texts, and how to display them, was a little 2013 New Year Eve project - before joining the family downstairs to welcome the New Year in...

So, the simple download counter supplied with the free version of MediaFire began counting on December 31 2013.  And since December 31 2013 it has - as of today, December 7 2014 - counted exactly 4000 downloads.

Since that start, on New Year's Eve, nearly a year ago, I have added other pieces of writing to that MediaFire site, as they became available.  So, it is not only The Irish World Wide that has been downloaded.  So far I have put there only my Irish Diaspora Studies works - interpreting that label a little vaguely.  For example, you will find there my song lyric book, Love Death and Whiskey - it does contain much 'Irish Diaspora' material, and it reminds me to get more song lyrics finished.

There is on MediaFire a little cluster of items which first appeared in Irish Studies Review, from 1992 onwards.  There are a number of names perhaps over-represented in the early issues of Irish Studies Review.  The Founding Editors were, in those years, still finding their way - seeing quite where to pitch the journal - and a number of us were supportive, and did what the Editors asked us to do.  For example, the Editors decided to publish a short story of mine, 'The Fiddler's Apprentice' - the text, as published, complete with errors, is on that MediaFire web site.

I am told that the Editors were later to bitterly regret publishing that short story - for, they say, they were thereafter swamped by unsolicited short stories.  What can I say?  Not my fault, not my fault...

That story, 'The Fiddler's Apprentice' was picked up by BBC Radio - I have put the audio file of the very good BBC version on MediaFire...

Later Irish Studies Review was to morph into a standard academic journal...

There are a few other Irish Diaspora Studies bits and pieces still out there, which I might hunt down.  I have decided that, for the moment, I should put only Irish Diaspora material there, on the MediaFire site.  And, for the moment, I am happy enough with the level of visibility.  There is evidence that a number of teachers and courses have bookmarked my MediaFire files - we get sudden spurts of downloads at the beginning of academic terms.  So...  4000, and counting...

Patrick O'Sullivan
December 2014

March 2015
On March 1 2015 the download counter at MediaFire clicked over 8000...
Now, 8000 and...  I think I will stop counting...

April 2015
I might stop counting, but the download counter sticks to its task.  As the end of April 2015 approaches, it lists 10,005 downloads...

June 19 2015 11,000 downloads

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Stephanie Hladowski sings The Sailor’s Dream

Fans of Stephanie Hladowski's lovely singing voice can hear her, singing, on the new Simogo game, The Sailor’s Dream - the game is released tomorrow...

Simogo, Simon Flesser and Magnus “Gordon” Gardebäck, are based in Malmo, Sweden - they make computer games and 'game-like things'.  Things that do not involve killing real or imaginary creatures...

Some links and comments below...

'That trailer gives me chills. Again, Simogo has been coy in regards to any solid details about the game itself, but their latest blog post does hint towards how important music and sound will be to the experience. There are a few new screens at their blog, but my recommendation is to not read any previews or reviews until you've been able to play the game for yourself. Simogo's talent is to surprise, delight, unnerve, and make you feel a whole range of real feelings while you experience their games. Ruining any of that would be doing a disservice to yourself, so mark a big red X on your calendar for November 6th when you'll be able to experience The Sailor's Dream firsthand.'

"We want to tackle a more philanthropic story, and instead of creating a feeling of suspense, we want to communicate something that feels warmer, yet melancholic," the developer wrote. "We're throwing out some more traditional game challenge-elements; in fact, The Sailor's Dream won't feature any puzzles at all. That doesn't mean you won't find playful things in the game, though — there are plenty of things to touch, play and tinker with.
"It's a fractured story told in different ways, from different perspectives. When it comes to telling the story, we're drawing inspirations from both books, radio plays and even musicals."

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Irish World Wide - Bibliographic

I have made a little addition to the files stored - and freely available - at

In the Folder, The Irish World Wide - Bibliographic

In the 'Outline of the Series' text file...  I said...

'An odd problem that I have noticed is that some bibliographic software systems seem to have trouble generating good references for the individual chapters of The Irish World Wide.  Google Scholar, in particular, seems to have trouble grasping the concept of a multi-volume, multi-authored work. This is a problem I had not anticipated, in 1993. I can only apologise. For day to day references I now use a Bibtex file in Jabref - it is open source, sturdy and forgiving. When I have a moment I will generate a Bibtex file for the entire Irish World Wide series, which can then be absorbed into any standard bibliographic system.'

Well, I have now - September 2014 - made a Jabref/Bibtex file of the entire Irish World Wide series.

And I have made that file available on that MediaFire web site - it is the .bib file... 

The file contains 72 entries: 6 books, 1 General Introduction to the Series, 6 separate volume Introductions, and 59 Chapters. 

Volumes 1 to 5 each contain 10 chapters. Volume 6, The Meaning of the Famine, has 9 chapters, some of them very substantial - that volume also had to contain the Cumulative Index to the series. 

In the ABSTRACT field of Jabref I have put the opening paragraph or so of each Introduction and each Chapter - this is just to give some feel for the content and approach, and to give SEARCH something to bite into.

I have also made available different versions of my original Jabref/Bibtex file - in html, csv and ris, plus a pdf of the tidy html file.  How these will work will depend on how you have your own computer set up - but in theory you should be able to import the references into your own standard bibliographic software. 

Patrick O'Sullivan

Friday, 19 September 2014

Laurie Lee... And me...

Whenever I see a new book about Laurie Lee I always look inside - just to see if I am in it...

Like you do...

As far as I know, I still I have not appeared in any book about Laurie Lee.  Since no one else will tell the story...

In the late 1960s I entered a poem in the Guinness Poetry Competition at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature and the Arts.  And a letter arrived, saying that my poem had reached the short list - so, an expenses paid trip to Cheltenham, to read my poem one evening, alongside the other finalists...

What year was it?  I remember that Arthur Koestler was there, and he admired my coat.  So, that makes it 1969, the year Arthur Koestler spoke at the Cheltenham Festival...

My coat was indeed a lovely coat, of purple William Morris curtain material, made by John Stephen, Carnaby Street, London, and bought in Carnaby Street.  I still have that coat - it is in the back of the wardrobe and will one day be bequeathed to a less portly person.

And a copy of my poem from 1969 has now come (back) into my hands.

The poem is called 'In Praise of Lizzie Cotton'.  And it is long...

The main influence was Christopher Smart.  But William Blake is also there - especially in the little lyrics - and Walt Whitman and T. S. Eliot. The idea of making a long thing by stitching together a sequence of short things.  Mostly it is Christopher Smart.

It is a praise poem.  As the title says.  That is what it is - a praise poem...  We study these things, they are an important part of literary history  - and every now and again we should write one...

That evening in Cheltenham a small man in a brown suit approached me, and explained that he used to be connected with the Cheltenham Festival of Literature and the Arts, but was no longer involved, and that he used to be a judge on the Poetry Competition, but was not a judge this year.  But he had read my poem, and he really liked it, and he hoped I would win.

And I said, Thank You...

By an accident of alphabet, I was the last person to read.  And we had had, by then, some pretty intense stuff.  I could only do my best.  My poem was long, yes - but it was funny, whimsical, entertaining.  The audience began to relax, to laugh, and be entertained.

So, I finished.  An allowed myself to go to the bar and have a drink.  Where people surrounded me, congratulating me on having won the competition.  Now, throughout that evening I was really, really good - I knew enough to know that chickens must not be counted.  I said, calmly, that we had heard some very fine poems - we must await the decision of the judges...

Back in the hall, the judges announced the name of the person who had come third in the competition.  It was not me.  And the person who had come second.  Not me.  And the first prize.  Not me.

And the audience revolted, led by the small man in the brown suit.  Who revealed himself to be Laurie Lee.

And Laurie Lee called me over, and instituted there and then a special Laurie Lee poetry prize.  (I remember two notes - two twenty pound notes?  But memory has maybe inflated for inflation.  Private Eye says 'ten quid' - so two five pound notes...)

And I went to the bar, where I bought two double whiskeys.  I took them back into the hall, gave one whiskey to Laurie Lee, and I toasted him with the other.

On the stage I could hear one of the judges say, 'Well, if you like rhetoric...'

Which, maybe, dates the event fairly precisely.  I went back to the bar and I took no further part in the proceedings...

I don't know if there are newspaper accounts of Laurie Lee's gesture that evening.  The incident was certainly mentioned in Private Eye.

After Cheltenham I was invited to a number of poetry events.  I particularly remember an evening at the Poetry Society.  And feeling that I really, really did not want to be part of this.  But that is another story...

Patrick O'Sullivan


Arthur Koestler, Literature and the Law of Diminishing Returns, The Cheltenham Lecture, given at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, November 1969, is collected in Arthur Koestler, The Heel of Achilles: Essays 1968–1973, 1974. 

John Stephen's archives are now with the V & A.

This is The Guardian obituary...

There is a book, Jeremy Reed, The King Of Carnaby Street: A Life of John Stephen, 2010.

A snippet view on Google Books of Private Eye 1969 gives that 'ten quid' detail.

There are now many books - and web sites - about Laurie Lee.  None of them mention me.

Friday, 22 August 2014

We will always have Gargrave...

Just signing off the last few details of the Gargrave Autoharp Festival....

The August 2014 issue of the Gargrave Parish Magazine is now available on its web site...

Click on the cover image and you will get into the pdf of the magazine.

On pages 10-11 you will see a little account of the Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014, written by me. As usual with these things, I was contacted on the Friday evening, and told that the deadline was Saturday morning. I did my best...

FROM the Gargrave Parish Magazine, August 2014

The Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014, Friday June 27 Saturday June 28 & Sunday June 29, 

The Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014 slotted in neatly after the Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2013, which laid the ground rules. The strong argument for 2014 was that, this year, we and the autoharp could be part of the Yorkshire Festival, the programme of cultural events leading up to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. That all worked - we were very visible on the Yorkshire Festival web site and in the media, we were supported by Mike Harding, England's folk music guru. And wasn't the Tour de France great fun?

The good things about holding the Autoharp Festival in Gargrave were even better in 2014. Again we had the support of Sally Thomas and her team at the Village Hall -and we thank them, especially for the way the volunteers waded in again and again when they could see that we were overstretched. And, as the Fable of the Autoharp shows, Gargrave is now the place in England where everyone knows what an autoharp looks like - and how it sounds. And we had local support - witness the charming models on our poster, from Jaki Prescott's dance school, and the charming illustrations to the Fable of the Autoharp from Alan Poxon's art group.

In the Village Hall on the Saturday we had our programme of classes and demonstrations - this year we attracted new players from the North of England. As was the plan. We had our lovely concert on the Saturday evening, which included Gargrave favourites from 2013, Mike Fenton and Guy Padfield. Everyone commented that Guy Padfield had become a much more confident and skilled musician since last year. The special guest at the concert was Patrick Couton - in the year of the Tour de France our own star from France. Wonderful music. Patrick Couton's travel expenses were covered by local boaters, the East Lancashire and West Yorkshire Boat Club.

The members of the Boat Club have asked me to say that this is their way of thanking Gargrave for all the work that goes into keeping the towpath and the canal clean and tidy.

And on the Sunday we had our Autoharp Service - special thanks to Michael Bland, who led the service, and to Sue Watkiss, the organist, who found ways to bring into the church service the music of Nadine White, Scotland's autoharp guru. I want to especially mention the support of  Kev and Amy, Kevan Lawson and Amy Dalgleish, the new team at The Old Swan, Gargrave's lovely old coaching inn. I don't want anybody to feel left out, but... Some of the best music of the Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014 took place in the Swan - as the professionals and the amateurs relaxed. Witness a musical duel between John McNally, a guitarist who understands the autoharp, and Patrick Couton, an autoharper who understands the guitar. On the Sunday evening about a dozen survivors gathered in the snug of the Swan, for a last informal session - music has been played in that snug for over two hundred years. In that snug, Robert Story, Gargrave's poet, sang his songs and played his fiddle...

As to the future, 2015? Yes, the good things about holding the Autoharp Festival in Gargrave were even better - but the difficulties were much the same. We were undoubtedly overstretched. There is only so much you can ask of volunteers. The quest for money is time consuming. We will have to think... But, in the annals of the autoharp, we will always have Gargrave.

Photographs by Andrew Milne, Official Photographer, Gargrave Autoharp Festival, more here:...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Patrick O'Sullivan, ed., The Meaning of the Famine, 1997

At the beginning of this year, 2014 - as part of tidying up projects - I put a lot of my earlier work on this free MediaFire cloud storage site...

It has to be a free site - there isn't a budget to do anything else.  It has worked well.

MediaFire gives me a simple download counter - this does not count people who read the texts online, without downloading.  But it is a measure.  And soon we will reach 2000 downloads since this project began, in January 2014.

MediaFire also offer a more complex statistics package, as part of the paid for, premium upgrade.  But...  there isn't a budget...

Pity really, because over the past weeks there has been an odd little anomaly in the download patterns.  Within a few weeks there have been some 200 downloads of one complete book, Patrick O'Sullivan, ed., The Meaning of the Famine, 1997, Volume 6 of The Irish World Wide.  An odd little glitch and difficult to explain.  Some sort of mad robot harvester? - the patterns do not fit.  A seminar group, somewhere, looking at the research literature on the Irish Famine? - the numbers look too big.

The book is in my thoughts because I am in the middle of writing a review article for Irish Historical Studies, about recent developments in the study of the Irish Diaspora, looking especially at the ways in which the Famine has become a central theme.  I need not go over here the problems I had bringing together a volume called The Meaning of the Famine, in 1997 - nor the criticism that my book has faced since then.

I recently read an article by Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley - the historian of famine in China...

Article (Edgerton-Tarpley2013Tough) 
Edgerton-Tarpley, K. 
Tough Choices: Grappling with Famine in Qing China, the British Empire, and Beyond. 
Journal of World History, 2013, 24, 135 - 176

It is a comparative piece, which makes excellent use of my own chapter in The Meaning of the Famine (co-written with Richard Lucking) - my chapter made a good stab at unpacking the coded language of the British mandarin class.

Saturday, 12 July 2014


Just come to my attention...

Report of a Research Project Funded by the Emigrant
Support Programme, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Clinton Institute for American Studies is pleased to announce the publication of exciting new research on the topic of the Irish diaspora. More and more, states are seeking to understand the form and functions of diasporas and engage with them to provide new opportunities for knowledge transfer, tourism, conflict resolution, and many other matters. In the context of these emerging interests, Ireland has some prominence as a small nation with an over seventy million strong diaspora. The Irish government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), is currently undertaking a comprehnsive review of its engagement with the Irish abroad. This research report scopes the changing profile and needs of Irish emigrants in relation to the Government's strategic objectives in engaging with the diaspora, particularly through the ESP, and considers how best these objectives may continue to be met.

TechReport (Kennedy2014SUPPORTING)
Kennedy, L.; Lyes, M. & Russell, M.
SUPPORTING THE NEXT GENERATION OF THE IRISH DIASPORA: Report of a Research Project Funded by the Emigrant Support Programme, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Clinton Institute, University College Dublin, 2014

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Gargrave Autoharp Festival, Photographs

There is a small selection of photographs by Andrew Milne, Official Photographer, Gargrave Autoharp Festival, here...

Monday, 26 May 2014

Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014- Arts Council success...

We heard last week that my bid to the Arts Council for funding for the Gargrave Autoharp Festival 2014 was successful. So, success there for the second year in a row.
This is a vote of confidence in UK Autoharps, the Gargrave Village Hall, the Gargrave community and the autoharp community. And certainly gives us a bit of wriggle room. 
There were more complications this year - the application process demanded that there be a lot more information and structure in place. So that the application had to go in much later in the planning process.
We are asked to use the Grant for the Arts logo, as last year...
I have put the revised versions of the Festival Poster - revised to include the Arts Council logo - on the web in two places, Dropbox and Google Drive. If anyone has problems using these, do contact me, and we will try to think of something else...
Our thanks to Andrew Milne, of Elemental Ideas, for so promptly revising the Poster...
Patrick O'Sullivan

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Fable of the Autoharp

The Fable of the Autoharp

The Fable of the Autoharp in the North (what I wrote) appeared in the recent issue of Autoharp Notes, edited by Judy Splinder.

The Fable has now also appeared in the latest issue, May 2014, of the Gargrave Village magazine, which has a new and pretty web site...

Click on the image on the right, Gargrave and Coniston Cold Parish Magazine, and you get a pdf.

The Fable of the Autoharp is on pages 12 and 13.

The Fable was discussed at the Gargrave artists' group, and is illustrated by two Gargrave artists, Jo Ball and Alan Poxon.

(Amongst Alan Poxon's other jobs - he makes kites...)

If you read the rest of the Gargrave and Coniston Cold Parish Magazine you will see what I mean when I say that we are shoehorned into a busy community centre.  Good or bad, depending on your point of view - but it certainly makes the autoharp visible...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Patrick Couton will appear at the Gargrave Autoharp Festival

Patrick Couton will appear at the Gargrave Autoharp Festival, 27, 28, 29 June 2014, Yorkshire, England...

Patrick Couton is the French jazz autoharper - it is a quite different style and approach to the instrument.  Patrick will perform at our Grand Concert on Saturday June 28, will play at our pub music sessions - and will generally be a genial musical presence.

The following weekend, the first weekend in July, the Tour de France starts in Yorkshire - and it seemed sensible to exploit the French connection and give the autoharp some international media attention with this invitation to Patrick Couton.  A local Leeds & Liverpool Canal boat club is sponsoring Patrick Couton's journey to Gargrave...

(Patrick Couton's other job is that he translates Terry Pratchett into French.)

Our other star performers in Gargrave are Mike Fenton, Heather Farrell-Roberts, Nadine White and Ian White, and Guy Padfield.

Patrick O'Sullivan

Friday, 25 April 2014

Emigrant Letters, Symposium and Exhibition, Coventry University May 19-21, 2014

You are invited to Leaving, crossing, arriving’ 19-21 May 2014, funded by the AHRC as part of our ‘Digitising experiences of migration’ project to connect migrant letter collections around the world - see

Events include:

A half-day symposium at Coventry University on Monday 19th May 2pm-5pm), to discuss the outcomes of the project, the digitisation and mark up of historical correspondence, and the importance/challenges/opportunities of interdisciplinary research in diaspora studies (see:

A project exhibition at the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery, Coventry, including activities and lunchtime concerts with Joe O’Donnell – 1.00-2.00 on May 19th and 21st (see:

‘News from Home: Themes and Functions of Letters to Irish Emigrants in Colonial Australia’ on May 19th, 6.30pm - 7.30pm – a talk at Coventry University by David Fitzpatrick, Professor of Modern History at Trinity College, Dublin and author of Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia.

To find book a place in the symposium and/or at the evening talk, see

Emma Moreton
Dept. English and Languages
Coventry University
Priory Street
Coventry CV1 5FB

s: emma-l-moreton

Monday, 7 April 2014

Gargrave Autoharp Festival - Accommodation 2014

Gargrave Autoharp Festival - Accommodation 2014

This year, 2014, the Gargrave Autoharp Festival, June 2014, is part of the Yorkshire Festival, the programme of cultural events building up to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, July 2014...

Gargrave Autoharp Festival
Weekend of Friday June 27, Saturday June 28 , Sunday June 29 , 2014

Gargrave is a pretty  village, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, not far from the market town Skipton.  The main road through the village is the A65.  The Pennine Way, long distance footpath, comes down to the village, before climbing to Malham.  The Leeds & Liverpool Canal, one of the 3 trans-Pennine canals, goes through the village.

Gargrave has its own railway station, on the Leeds-Morecambe line - which also connects with the Settle-Carlisle line.  But do note that Gargrave Station is a little halt, no facilities, no taxis, and a bit of a trudge to the centre of the village.

The local large and busy station is Skipton, with many taxis, ten minutes drive away from Gargrave.

Remember that the Gargrave Village Hall is the main venue...

See the simple map on


A:  Gargrave

River Cottage B&B
Kath and Keith Bradley, very helpful and supportive.

Contact Information
Tel: 01756 749541

Rooms available for our weekend...

The Old Swan Inn - pub and B&B

Old coaching inn, in the centre of Gargrave, now run by Kevan Lawson and Amy Dalgleish.  Refurbished and open for business.
Phone 01756 749232
There isn't a web site, but they do now have a Facebook page.

Rooms available for our weekend...

Masons Arms - pub and B&B

John Baker, the landlord, is very helpful and supportive.

Tel: 01756 749 304

However rooms at the Masons seems to be fully booked on Friday June 27.  Saturday and Sunday some availability.

Premier Inn

The Premier Inn is on the western edge of Gargrave, where the A65 crosses the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.  It shares a site with the Anchor Inn, a Brewers Fayre pub restaurant.  There is a safe walk to the centre of the village, along the towpath.

Do remember that with hotel chains like Premier it really pays to book ahead through the web site...

B:  Camp and Caravan

Generally caravan and camper van people have their own contacts and lists.  But, briefly, Eshton Road Caravan Park is quite small, on the eastern edge of Gargrave, next to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.  There is an easy walk into the village, along the canal towpath.

Eshton Road Caravan Park
Eshton Road
North Yorkshire
BD23 3PN
Contact Details
Tel: 01756 749229
Fax: 01756 748060

A possible alternative, but ONLY for members of the Camping & Caravanning club, is the club's gathering for our weekend on the Gargrave football pitch.  Details are in the club members part of the web site and in the club's magazine.

Own sanitation essential - there are no toilet or shower facilities.  Arrive on the Thursday, any time after 4, and check in with the steward.

There are many other Camp and Caravan sites nearby, in Skipton and in the Yorkshire Dales generally.

C:  Further Afield

Skipton is nearby, and has very many hotels and B&Bs, of every standard...  See

...and many other web sites.

Gargrave is about 10 minutes drive from the centre of Skipton.  There is a Travelodge on the Gargrave edge of Skipton, on the Skipton by-pass - so 5 minutes drive.  Again, with hotel chains like Travelodge, it pays to book ahead through the web site.

If you do book accommodation in Skipton make sure that the parking problem is solved.  The more established hotels, like Herriots Hotel and the Rendezvous, have their own car parks.  Otherwise, parking in Skipton is annoying and/or expensive.

Near to Gargrave, but NOT walking distance, are other possibilities - depending on budgets.  For example

The Coniston Hotel

Newton Grange

All of the villages and towns around Gargrave, especially within the Yorkshire Dales, have hotels, B&Bs, camp and caravan sites.  There are also many holiday cottages, but they are usually let through agencies/web sites, and usually by the week.  Weekends are sometimes available.

For those in an extravagant or adventurous mood it is possible to hire a canal boat in Skipton, or nearby, bring the boat up the locks and moor in Gargrave.  But canal boat hire is not cheap.

For those who want to experience the most beautiful stretch of canal in England...  I will be bringing my boat down from Barnoldswick (pronounced Barlick) to Gargrave a few days before the Gargrave Autoharp Festival, and we can take about 8 passengers.  The journey takes a whole day by boat, 20 minutes by car.

Patrick O'Sullivan
April 2014

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Ceiliúradh (Celebration), Royal Albert Hall, Thursday 10 April 2014

Just received an invitation from Uachtarán na hÉireann, the President of the Republic of Ireland, to attend this event.

Very nice to be remembered, and I am sure it will be a wonderful evening of music.  It looks like the event came together at short notice - but if it is just the Philip King house band that will be enough to fill the Albert Hall...

Friday, 31 January 2014

Gargrave Autoharp Festival, the weekend of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 27, 28, 29, 2014

Gargrave Autoharp Festival, the weekend of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 27, 28, 29, 2014

The core of the Gargrave Autoharp Festival, Yorkshire, England, is now in place - the weekend of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 27, 28, 29, 2014.

As ever, we are in alliance with the Gargrave Village Hall, in the pretty village of Gargrave in Yorkshire.  The village lets us use the hall, for free - for autoharp lessons and demonstrations.  And we give them music.

This year our autoharp tutors are...
Mike Fenton, and his wife Rachel - demonstrations and various classes
Guy Padfield, teaching the beginners
Nadine and Ian White - 2 workshops
Heather Farrell-Roberts - 2 advanced workshops
Basically, the A Team...

And this year, 2014, we are part of the Yorkshire Festival, the Cultural Festival of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.  The weekend after our Festival, July 5, the Tour de France starts out from Leeds, in Yorkshire.  Which is fun...

Gargrave Autoharp Festival posters can be seen and downloaded from
The two little ballerinas are pupils in a little dance school in Gargrave village.

The Gargrave Autoharp Festival on The Yorkshire Festival, Cultural Festival web site, see...

See also

For more on Mike Fenton see

Note especially his contribution to the new BBC version of Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Patrick O'Sullivan

The Irish World Wide, 1992-1997, SIX VOLUMES ONLINE

Much of my earlier work, rescued from pre-digital age, printed books, is now available on the web.

This includes the 6 volumes of Patrick O'Sullivan, ed., The Irish World Wide, 1992-1997.  See...

It is possible to download the 6 volumes of The Irish World Wide as 6 individual, large pdf files. 

But each volume is also separated out into individual chapters - each chapter in its own pdf file, and easy to download and carry around.  This solves a recurring problem, that I get requests for copies of specific chapters.

Special attention is drawn - of course - to my own chapters on The Irish Joke, in Volume 3, and on Famine Theory, in Volume 6.  But if someone wants to jump in at the deep end, I recommend reading my Introduction to Volume 5, Religion and Identity - gives an idea of the style and the method...

Patrick O'Sullivan

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Gargrave Autoharp Festival, 2014 - weekend of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 27, 28, 29

At the Yorkshire end the core of the Gargrave Autoharp Festival, the weekend of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 27, 28, 29, 2014, is now in place.

Many factors influence the choice of that weekend - what the Gargrave Village Hall could offer us, I was told to avoid the dates of the TT races on the Isle of Man, meeting up with Mike Fenton's fan base amongst the caravanners...

Yesterday we had a very good photo shoot for the Festival poster - in line with the Gargrave Autoharp Festival tradition that we have a beautiful and striking poster.

This year, 2014, we are part of the the Cultural Festival of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France. The weekend after our Festival, July 5, the Tour de France starts out from Leeds. At that weekend Yorkshire is FULL. No accommodation left.

Will that affect our weekend? Do I need to worry? As yet I do not know. There could be leakage forward from the Tour de France, as people extend their stay. Or Yorkshire might be empty. Or something in between.

Patrick O'Sullivan

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Book Review, McCarthy, Scottishness and Irishness in New Zealand since 1840

This Book Review - or a version of it - will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Australasian Journal of Irish Studies.

McCarthy, A. (2011). Scottishness and Irishness in New Zealand since 1840. Manchester University Press, 240p.

We take into our hands a new book by Angela McCarthy, aware that there is already a body of work in place.  Amongst my favourites, amongst the published articles, is the 2001, ‘ ”A good idea of colonial life": personal letters and Irish migration to New Zealand’, which firmly laid ground rules.  New Zealand was going to study its migrants’ letters, and was going to contribute to our better understanding – and better use – of the Emigrant Letter elsewhere.  As for books, my favourite is the 2005 Irish migrants in New Zealand, 1840-1937: 'the desired haven', which should be better known to scholars of the Irish Emigrant Letter.  That book explores its letter collections using the ground rules – again, ground rules – of David Fitzpatrick.  And it bravely shapes its Thematic Index alongside that of Fitzpatrick’s Oceans of Consolation.  Since I am especially interested in how knowledge is created and shaped, the Diaspora Studies geek in me always enjoys Angela McCarthy’s literature reviews.

In tandem with such studies of Irish settlement in New Zealand there has appeared a sequence of articles studying Scottish settlement and letters, and a book which combined perceptions, the 2007 Personal Narratives of Irish and Scottish Migration, 1921-65:'For Spirit and Adventure'.  I should pedantically make the point that it is now easily possible to track the influence of all these works using online resources like Google Scholar and JSTOR – and if we are going to theorise about ‘the Irish’ and the Emigrant Letter, New Zealand will not be ignored.

We are therefore looking at scholarship about, cumulatively, two emigrant groups, the Scots and the Irish, and scholarship which often studies them in a comparative manner.  Since most statements about ‘the Irish’ are disguised comparisons, this approach is valuable.  And this approach is rare – partly for almost geo-political reasons, and here I would include the politics of academic careers.  Communities themselves are interested in difference – to track the real life effects of prejudice, or as a way of shaping a distinctive identity, or as part of generation control systems.  This new book by Angela McCarthy is about identities, Scottishness and Irishness.  It is thus an exploration of repertoires of identity, which – I have pointed out elsewhere – mostly coalesce around leisure activities.

There are obvious dangers, for the writer and for the reader.  The specialist reader is inclined to read with most attention the material about one specific group, and I must confess that that is what I did, at a first reading of Scottishness and Irishness.  This is, sort of, fair.  We see how the writer handles the material with which we are most familiar.  There are dangers with cumulative material about ‘Irishness’ - literature reviews can, over time, develop into a kind of shorthand.  Detail is lost, time and place, research discipline and methodology.  An inter-disciplinary approach must be critical.  Here, for example, Stivers (p17), is a study of alcohol use in the USA and American stereotypes – it is not a study of ‘the Irish’. 

A second, closer reading, truer to author’s intentions, took on the themed chapters, the matched Scottish and Irish detail – each chapter shaped by a knot in the research material and in background theory.  This sent me back to the literature on Scottish identity – see above, online resources – so that I could begin a better dialogue with the book.  There is no doubt that, at times, the book can be a bit programmatic – but after a while I found this to be a strength rather than a weakness.  The geek in me sees this book as the literature review, writ large.  And I am struck, as I read the material about the Scottish identity alongside the Irish, not by difference, but how similar the two groups are.  Both groups move from one little archipelago in the northern hemisphere to another little archipelago in the south – and, for the most part, entirely within the structures, economic, control, patronage, of the British Empire and its successor organisations.

It is always possible to find a difference, of course – but is it, to coin a phrase, a difference that makes a difference?  One difference that McCarthy does highlight is that whilst Irish societies in New Zealand frequently articulated political aims, Scottish societies were predominantly cultural (p 142).  In our own time, when there is a restored and active Scottish Parliament – and, soon, a referendum on Scottish independence – this certainly makes us pause.  We are certainly looking at matched control systems here.  And the detail of the ways in which the Scots of New Zealand ‘forged’ – to use Linda Colley’s word – a cultural identity are revealing.  Look, for example, at the Scottish use of Robert Burns (p140) – there is no matching Irish use of Thomas Moore.  In another part of my working life, the study of song, I look at Burns and Moore as models for nineteenth century lyricists.  When it comes to repertoires of identity some bits of the possible repertoire simply work better than others.  In the new country, in the new communities, selection processes take place.  Yes there will be discussion of authenticity, but there will also be a willingness to invent tradition, as the need arises.

Another way into McCarthy’s material is to explore gaps and absences.  If we were to indulge a typical focus group study of Irish identity, discussion of violence would loom large – particularly a willingness to use violence for political ends.  This is how we were seen in the world, and still are, to a certain extent.  Lee and Casey (2006), the standard work on ‘Making the Irish American’ – ‘making’, not ‘forging’ – must pause to give Kevin Kenny a chapter to explore that very issue.  And this makes discussion with our colleagues in the Armenian or the Basque Diaspora so… productive.  There is very little about this part of the repertoire in McCarthy’s book, but the author is, of course, aware of debates – there is discussion of the 1988 movie, The Grasscutter, a standard thriller in which a violent secret organisation intrudes into the idyll.  But in that case the secret organisation is Irish Protestant and loyalist.  Mostly we see the Irish and the Scots behaving like a standard subaltern group within the British Empire – if anything McCarthy’ selected quotations give an impression of Irish unwillingness to engage in violence.

So, a book that makes us work hard, and makes us think – especially when we place it alongside wider study of diaspora.  For this we give thanks.

Patrick O’Sullivan


The rescue of 'Tolkien in Oxford'

A quick report, to thank those who expressed interest...

I nipped down to London for 2 days last month.

The BBC paper file of Leslie Megahey's 1968 film 'Tolkien in Oxford' was made available to me, and I was able to go through it.  I spent all of Wednesday, December 18, in the editing suite, with Leslie Megahey and Charles Chabot, film and video producer.  The video file supplied by the BBC Library - technically a PRORES 422 HQ file - was of very good quality.  We were all very pleased with the quality of the images - especially remembering that the film was originally shot on 1960s 16mm film. 

Just to sum up what was done on the day...

1.  Captions
Captions were inserted where they would have been inserted during the original transmission.

2.  Credits
The original film was broadcast in 1968 as part of a BBC arts magazine series called 'RELEASE'.  It shared the evening, I understand, with a film about Barbara Hepworth, and combined credits for both films were floated in towards the end of the slot.

On Wednesday December 18 2013 we created and installed a sequence of credits for the 'Tolkien in Oxford' film ALONE - the sort of thing that would have appeared in 1968, had the 'Tolkien in Oxford' film been broadcast alone.  In re-creating these credits we called upon our joint memories AND the BBC paper file, which we had to hand.  So, we think they are right.

Typefaces for the Captions and Credits were simply a judgement call, as were placing and timing.  Since we had the original director of the film in the room, there was no argument about that.

3.  Some tidying of the actual video file.  A few scratches were removed, as were most of those jumps and clicks that are artefacts of the original negative cutting technology.  These are especially noticeable in the rostrum camera sequences.  A little bit of theological discussion here, about how much we should interfere with an archive 'document' - but from the BBC side an insistence that what we were aiming for was a 'transmission quality' file.

The amended and restored video file has been returned to the BBC.

I think we are happy enough with the quality of the restored piece.  The image quality is generally very good.  The overall structure, now that we can see it, is good.  The gags work - now that we can see the complete piece.  Individual contributions are good - we were struck, for example, by how good a job Joss Ackland had done with the readings. 

And, I think I will add, we liked the integrity of the piece.  Leslie Megahey remind me about the decision to NOT include talking heads academics - for example, he remind me that I had negotiated on his behalf with J. I. M Stewart (Michael Innes), before he decided that that was not the way to go.  And you have to think, what, in 1968, could the talking heads academics have contributed to the discussion?

I understand that there is now beginning within the BBC some discussion about how these BBC TV arts 'magazine' films might be restored and re-displayed - though they were not broadcast as individual pieces, they were costed and created as individual films, and work as standalone films.  So, we might have started something.

Patrick O'Sullivan

Love Death and Whiskey - now on Amazon at £1.17, including postage

I have mentioned before, in this blog, my mix of amazement and consternation at Amazon's pricing of my song lyric book, Love Death and Whiskey...

Last year the price seemed to have settled down at around £3 per copy.

Ok.  Now amazement, consternation, bafflement...  Amazon is selling the book at £1.17 including postage.  Including postage.

This, of course, is a price far below the price I can manage.  It practically guarantees that no other book shop will stock the book.  What will it do for sales? And, if copies do sell, what part of that tiny price will eventually reach me?

Well, I wanted my song lyrics to be in the hands of singers and musicians.  The book was meant to work as a box of samples.  I guess that I am, maybe, in the end, happy about this strange development.  But baffled.