The Sea Cannot Be Blocked

In February 2020 I visited Moria, the notorious refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. Some who worked there say the conditions were worse than in refugee camps in Africa. The camp has since burnt down in a fire set by the desperate refugees themselves.

“螚 胃维位伪蟽蟽伪 螖蔚谓 蠁蟻维味蔚蟿伪喂” [I th谩lassa den fr谩zetai]! Kostas Pinteris kept repeating the sentence over and over again. “The sea cannot be blocked”. He is a fisherman on the Greek island of Lesvos, on the edge of Europe. Turkey is within sight. In 2015 when the refugee crisis was at its height, he became a fisherman of men. He says he rescued thousands. Together with three others he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Fisherman Kostas
Kostas Pinteris, Greek fisherman who became a fisherman of men

Now the Greek government are planning to install floating barriers between the island and Turkey to keep the refugees out. Kostas says this will impede fishing as well as shipping and will inevitably lead to disputes with the Turks.

Poseidon is known to be the Greek god of the sea. But Thalassa was a primeval spirit of the oceans. Her name is still in practical use today: I th谩lassa den fr谩zetai! Together with her male counterpart, Pontus, she spawned the tribes of fish and the storm gods. Thalassa and Pontus were later replaced by Oceanus and Tethys, Poseidon and Amphitrite.

Continue reading “The Sea Cannot Be Blocked”

Creideamh, C脿nan agus Cogadh

Observations from a trip to the Balkans (in English below)

Stone Gate, Zagreb
An Geata Cloiche/ Stone Gate, Zagreb

A’ coiseachd tro Zagreb, pr矛omh bhaile Chroatia bho chionn ghoirid r脿inig mi Kamenita Vrata, An Geata Cloiche. Tha soidhne d脿-ch脿nanach os a chionn – ann an Chroatianais agus Gearmailtis. Bha an d霉thaich uair fo smachd 脤mpireachd na h-Ostaire agus na h-Ungaire. Tha an ailtireachd da-r猫ir. ‘S e geata a-steach dhan t-seann bhaile a th’ ann. An rud a tha iongantach mu dh猫idhinn ‘s e is gu bheil 矛omhaigh de Mhuire Mh脿thair na bhroinn agus beingidhean feadha gus 霉rnaigh a dh猫anadh. Ach chan e a-mh脿in is gu bheil daoine ag 霉rnaigh an sin, ch矛thear fi霉 ‘s oileanaich a’ ruigh tron gheata dha na clasaichean aca is iad a’ d猫anadh soidhne na croise. Gun teagamh is e 脿ite a th’ ann an Croatia far a bheil an creideamh Caitligeach gu m貌r mar ph脿irt dhe beatha poblach na d霉thcha.

Sarajevo panoramic view
Sarajevo, BiH

Continue reading “Creideamh, C脿nan agus Cogadh”

Catacomban Mh脿iri Mhagdalene/ Catacombs of Mary Magdalene

(in English below)

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At first I thought the white fog came from my breath, but then it disappeared and its provenance remained unexplained

Air Eilean Lesbos sa Ghr猫ig tha catacomban ann a chaidh a chladhach le muinntir an 脿ite 脿s d猫idh do Mh脿iri Mhagdalene nochdadh dhaibh. Air an eadar-l矛on chan fhaighear m貌ran fiosrachaidh mun d猫idhinn ann am Beurla. Dar a r脿inig mi baile Skopelos cha robh aon soidhne ri fhaicinn. Dh’fhaighnich mi do ghrunnan dhaoine, ach cha robh iad ga mo thuigsinn. Mu dheireadh thall lorg mi eaglais agus chaidh mi a-steach ann. Bha an eaglais ortadocs sin l脿n stuthan cr脿bhaidh mar is dual dhaibh.

Bha cailleach ann an aodach dhubh na suidhe an sin agus dh’fhaighnich mi dhithse a-rithist: “Maria Magdalena?” Rinn i soidhne dhomh nach b’ e seo an eaglais cheart idir, ach gun robh agam ri falbh suas an rathad. Chan fhada mus an do r脿inig mi eaglais eile, ach bha an geata timcheall oirre d霉inte. Abair briseadh d霉il. B’ e seo an aon chothrom a bha gu bhith agam gus tadhail oirre. Bha e 7.45 sa mhadainn ge-t脿. Chaidh mi timcheall is thog mi dealbhan bhon taobh a-muigh. D矛reach mus robh mi am beachd falbh nochd cailleach eile ann an aodach dhubh le g脿ire air a h-aodann: “Kali mera!” – madainn mhath, ars mise. “Kali mera – katakombe?” dh’fhaighnich ise. Mu dheireadh thall bha fios aig cuideigin mu dh猫idhinn M脿iri Magdalene.

Church in SkopelosLe iuchar mh貌r dh’fhosgail i an toiseach an geata agus an uair sin an eaglais. Sheall i dhomh an icon a tha an-diugh na sheasadh na broinn, ach a-r猫ir choltais lorgar e gu h-矛osal san talamh. B’ abhaist taighean-c貌mhnaidh a bhith air an l脿raich seo. Bha Anton agus Eilidh Tsantarlioti a’ fuireach an seo timcheall air a’ bhliadhna 1900. A-r猫ir aon l脿rach-l矛n co-dhi霉 nochd M脿iri Magdalene dha Eilidh is i ag r脿dh rithe gun robh i a’ fuireach sa gh脿radh aice agus gum miannaicheadh i gun losgar coinneal dhi fad na h-霉ine. Rinn iad sin ri taobh a’ chruinn-ola. Continue reading “Catacomban Mh脿iri Mhagdalene/ Catacombs of Mary Magdalene”

Omas K盲sekuchen – Granny’s Cheescake

My Granny’s Cheesecake on BBC ALBA (in Gaelic with English subtitles)

There is none like it! Here’s the recipe:

Omas K盲sekuchen:

250 g Butter, 250 g Zucker und 8 Eigelbe verr眉hren, dann schaumig schlagen.

2kg Quark, eine Prise Salz, Vanilleso脽enpulver, Vanillezucker, 2 Teel枚ffel Backpulver, Saft von 2 Zitronen, eine handvoll Rosinen, 160 g Grie脽, 4 Essl枚ffel Rum, 8 geschlagene Eiwei脽 (steif) unterheben.

Die Masse auf eine gro脽e und eine kleine Form verteilen. Bei 190 Grad auf unterster Schiene backen bis der Kuchen goldgelb ist (ca. 30 Min). Guten Appetit!

Anna Louise Wagner, my granny
Anna Louise Wagner, my granny, RIP

Granny’s Cheesecake:

Stir 250g of butter, 250g of sugar and 8 yolks. Beat until foamy.

Add 2kg quark, a pinch of salt, custard powder, vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, juice of 2 lemons, a handful of raisins, 160g of semolina, 4 tablespoons of Rum, 8 beaten egg whites (stiff) and fold.

Fill the mass in a large and a small form. Bake at 190 degrees on the bottom rail until the cake is golden yellow (roughly 30 mins). Guten Appetit!

My homemade video preparing the cake (in English)

Continue reading “Omas K盲sekuchen – Granny’s Cheescake”

Nach der 鈥淏rexitwahl:鈥 Stehen schottische Unabh盲ngigkeit und irische Wiedervereinigung vor der T眉r?

Meine Schlagzeilen aus einer Diskussionsrunde im Deutschlandfunk:

https://srv.deutschlandradio.de/dlf-audiothek-audio-teilen.3265.de.html?mdm:audio_id=793602

Brexit

Eine Minderheit von 43,6% hat in der britischen Unterhauswahl, dank des Mehrheitswahlrechts, den harten Brexit der Regierung Boris Johnson erm枚glicht. Der Rechtspopulist Johnson und der linksextreme Gegenkandidat der Labourpartei, Jeremy Corbyn, habe die britische politische Landschaft dabei weiter polarisiert.

Schottische Unabh盲ngigkeit

Interview mit der schottischen Regierungschefin , Nicola Sturgeon, SNP

Die SNP sagt, das Wahlergebnis zeige, da脽 das Vereinigte K枚nigreich zerbrochen sei. Obgleich sie sich Schottische Nationalpartei nennt, verstehen sie sich als Internationalisten und Europ盲er [mit sozialdemokratischer Gesinnung].

Die SNP hat aber auch nur 45% der schottischen Stimmen auf sich vereinigt. Eine Mehrheit hat also gegen Unabh盲ngigkeit gestimmt. Continue reading “Nach der 鈥淏rexitwahl:鈥 Stehen schottische Unabh盲ngigkeit und irische Wiedervereinigung vor der T眉r?”

Comann G脿idhlig na h-Eaglaise Caitligich/ A Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church

A talk I gave for the聽Scottish Catholic Cultural Symposium at Pluscarden Abbey on 3/5/19, entitled:聽Faith in the North – Reviving Cultures:聽Healing the divide between the Catholic Faith and traditional Scottish culture聽聽

Current Issues in the Gaelic Revival and the Place of the Catholic Church

1) E貌las Pearsanta/ Personal experience

Bu聽mhath leam聽t貌iseachadh le beagan dhen e貌las pearsanta agam fh矛n. An-dr脿sta is a-rithist thathar ag r脿dhn gur i a鈥 Gh脿idhlig, c脿nan g脿rradh Eden. Tha sin a鈥 faireachdain ceart, ach saoil, carson?

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Gaelic has often been described as the language of the Garden of Eden. And the funny thing is it attracts lunatics like myself from around the world who come and learn it. But why?

There are many obvious ways to put it: The people are friendly, the landscape is beautiful, the lovely weather鈥

 

Dhomhsa tha a鈥 Ghaidhealtachd a鈥 faireachdain gu s貌nraichte beannaichte. Agus tha mi dhen bheachd gu bheil sin air sg脿th irisleachd nan daoine.

The closest I have come to explaining the attraction of Scottish Gaelic to myself is that Gaeldom must be especially blessed. In Scotland in general, but in particular in the Gaidhealtachd – as Gaeldom is known in Gaelic – people seem to look out for each other, the arrogance and elbow society of much of the Western world hasn鈥檛 reached here, yet.聽 Continue reading “Comann G脿idhlig na h-Eaglaise Caitligich/ A Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church”

鈥淲hat do social media contribute to the revival and/ or survival of the Celtic languages?鈥

A talk given to the Celtic Congress in Kemper/ Quimper, Brittany in July 2018

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Flags of the 8 Celtic lands

1) Na D霉bhlain – The challenges
An toiseach bu mhath leam na d霉bhlain a chur mur coinneamh. Tha mi a鈥 dol a thoirt iomradh air fear, Joshua Fishman, a bha na ollamh aig Oilthigh Stanford sna St脿itean Aonaichte. Tha esan air leth cudromach ann an saoghal nam mion-ch脿nanan.

First of all I would like to talk about the challenges with this subject. At Sabhal M貌r Ostaig, the Scottish Gaelic language college on the Isle of Skye, where I studied an Honours degree, Joshua Fishman was regarded the number one minority languages guru. He died in 2015 but was a professor at Stanford University amongst other institutions and wrote the ground breaking book: 鈥淩eversing Language Shift鈥 which was first published in 1991. I had the privilege of meeting him when he came to Sabhal M貌r in 2003. Continue reading “鈥淲hat do social media contribute to the revival and/ or survival of the Celtic languages?鈥”

Brexit – 1 Year To Go

Many fishermen supported Brexit (above: Oban)

Brexit – One Year To Go: My series on BBC ALBA

(In Gaelic with English subtitles)

 

 

Part 1: Voices for Brexit

  • Fishermen want control of UK waters
  • Others argue Brexit it will bring new trade opportunities and increase productivity
  • Brexiters want to reduce immigration,
  • Don’t believe civil service’s numbers indicating that UK will be worse off under any scenario
  • Some in agriculture see an opportunity to change the subsidy so it benefits those who actually work the land

Part 2: Voices against Brexit

Sheep on Isle of Tiree
Crofting on the Island of Tiree

  • Claims it will cost the UK 拢2bn a week, Leave campaign spread lies
  • Rural areas have benefitted especially from EU funding, doubts whether this will be a priority for the UK government
  • Has alienated EU citizens residing in the UK
  • Will badly affect research institutions as EU funding ceases and freedom of movement may mean fewer foreign researchers want to settle in the UK
  • The EU has brought peace and prosperity to the UK
  • May mean unrest brakes out again in Northern Ireland

Part 3: Voices for and against Scottish independence

  • Claims Scotland is now weaker than any other part of Britain economically
  • Scottish Brexit minister confirms that when the terms of Brexit become clear Scots should have a choice whether they want to continue in the UK
  • Surprising analogies with Brexit. Both are either said to bring opportunities or uncertainty depending on point of view
  • Some have changed their mind on independence after the Brexit vote

Part 4: Was the BBC biased in its referendum reports?

  • Equal time is allocated to either side in BBC’s referendum reports. But can the Bank of England’s view be balanced by that of a small think-tank?
  • Reality Check provides analysis, but uncertainty remains over whether the UK will be better or worse off in ten year’s time says BBC Scotland’s Political Editor
  • Media expert says Vote Leave admitted the most successful slogan of the referendum (鈥淲e send the EU 拢350m a week: let’s fund our NHS instead鈥) stated an “amalgamation” of a figure

Part 5: Brexit, Trump and AfD聽(right-wing party in Germany)

  • Some sense an anti EU feeling by some Brexiteers, see similarities to AfD policies blaming incomers for issues
  • Others believe Britain has moved to the left after the Brexit referendum
  • Donald Trump has also curbed immigration, supporters claim this is to protect their culture
  • Others say these policies work as long as those proclaiming them don’t come too close