Archive for the 'Northern Ireland' Category

24th Jan 2012

The Invisible Artist

The Invisible Artist, a documentary film made by Andy Luke and Carl Boyle for NVTV on the history of comics in Belfast, which I appeared in and helped out on the research for last year, is now online. As well as Andy and myself, there are contributions from Davy Francis, PJ Holden, Stephen Downey, John Farrelly, John Killen of the Linenhall Library, and many others. Go watch, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

The Invisible Artist from Northern Visions/NvTv on Vimeo.


Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Belfast, Films, Irish comics, Northern Ireland, Small press comics, TV Comments No Comments »

01st Jun 2009

2D This Weekend!

Oh yeah. Keep forgetting this is a blog. So I’ll be exhibiting at the 2D Festival at the Verbal Arts Centre in [London]Derry* this weekend. Unfortunately they don’t have a logo that’s hotlinkable, so this post will have to go unillustrated. But David Lloyd’ll be there! And D’Israeli! And Bryan Talbot! And Glenn Fabry! Not to mention lots of Irish artists. And it’s free! If you can come, and don’t, then you’re an eejit. If you can and do, see you there.

*For those of you from outside this benighted corner of a speck in the Atlantic, there are a lot of people for whom whether or not you shorten the name/add a bit to the beginning to the name of Northern Ireland’s** second city is actually important. I heard a story about an American tourist who asked for a train ticket to Derry, and the guy in the ticket window refused to sell them one because there’s no such place. Then there’s all the road signs to “Londonderry” that have had the “London” painted out – and even one where the “Derry” has been painted out, leaving the “London”. I remember when Bill Clinton came over to celebrate the Good Friday Agreement and gave a speech to a huge crowd in front of Belfast City Hall. said he’s been to “Derry City and Londonderry County” – when he said “Derry City” half the crowd visibly bristled, and when he said “Londonderry County” the other half did.

**Never mind.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under 2D Festival, My Comics, Northern Ireland Comments No Comments »

12th Feb 2008

Dinosaurs in Lurgan!

In my civilian identity I work in public liability claims. We have a personal injury claim in Lurgan, County Armagh, and here’s a photo of the trip hazard:

You can’t tell me that’s not a dinosaur footprint. Call in the Primeval team to search for anomalies!

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Funny, Northern Ireland, TV Comments No Comments »

28th Sep 2007

Belfast: own your Irishness!

Growing up protestant in Belfast, we’re constantly impressed with the assertion that “Ulster is British” – and most definitely not Irish. I remember going on “camp” with the BB (we actually slept in a church hall) in the Isle of Man, and having an altercation with the girl in the chip shop over this very issue. “I’ll have a chip, please,” said one of the BB lads. Don’t remember his real name. We called him Pastie. “Are you Irish?” says the girl. “I hate the way you Irish people say ‘a chip’ instead of ‘a portion of chips’.” “I’m not Irish,” says Pastie. “I’m Northern Irish.” Took me to go away and study in England before I realised how ridiculous that sounds.

How can you live in a country (or a failed statelet, if you’re a Republican) called “Northern Ireland” and not be, in any sense, Irish? Even if you’re politically British, you’re at least geographically Irish. And why should the Republic of Ireland get to define and monopolise the term? I’m Northern Irish. I’m not Republic-of-Irish. But I’m still Irish.

I think we have more right to call ourselves Irish than anybody. Republican murals look like political cartoons, stylistically completely international. Loyalist murals look like Celtic folk art. There’s a loyalist mural on the Newtownards Road known as “Ulster’s Freedom Corner”. It’s not on a corner. It’s on a straight stretch of road. How much more Irish do you want?

That’s the other thing. As well as not being Irish, the typical protestant attitude is that we’re not, unlike that uncivilised rabble down south or those treacherous fenians in our midst, Celts. There’s a school of thought that says, because CĂș Chulainn, the hero of the Ulster Cycle, is described as “small and dark” in some stories, and the Romans described the Celts as tall and fair, Ulster people were never Celtic and always ethnically distinct from the rest of Ireland. Frankly, we’re more Celtic than anyone. The Romans rolled over the Celts because they could always divide and rule – there’d always be the odd tribe that’d much rather side with the imperialist invaders than be nice to that lot down the road. Sound familiar? The other thing the Romans agreed on was that the Celts wore moustaches – and there’s more moustaches per head of population among Ulster prods than any other country in the world. If you’re at Heathrow looking for the departure gate to Belfast, just look for a group of guys in dark suits with moustaches and follow them.

Anyway, all of this is merely a prelude for a link to a piece on another blog, in which an Egyptian girl called Super-S tells of how she fell in love with Ireland from afar, was disappointed by Dublin when she finally visited, but found that Belfast delivered every Irish cliché she could have hoped for. QED.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Belfast, Northern Ireland, Personal Comments 9 Comments »

17th Aug 2007

Protestantism, football and shame – theatre critic post

Just been to the Grand Opera House in Belfast with me ma to see a play, A Night in November by Marie Jones, starring Patrick Kielty. Like just about every play produced in Northern Ireland since God was a lad, it’s a comedy about sectarianism with a single set doing multiple duties as a variety of locations – a football terrace, a living room, an office, a golf course, New York, etc – with a tiny cast – tinier than usual in fact: just Kielty. He plays Kenneth Norman McAllister, a mildly bigoted Belfast protestant who is shocked by the extreme bigotry hurled by Northern Ireland football fans at visiting Republic of Ireland fans during a match at Windsor Park in the qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, learns to love “the other side” and eventually goes to New York to support the Republic in the World Cup.

Now, it’s very funny, and Kielty performs it very well, playing not only Kenneth but all the other characters in asides. But its subject matter is political, and politically, it’s crap. Its message is, prods are uptight, snobby and conventional, not to mention sectarian, while fenians are happy, free-spirited and spontaneous, and not a sectarian thought would ever cross their minds. When prods support their football team and hurl abuse at their opponents, it’s out of hatred, but when fenians do it it’s in a spirit of fun and togetherness. Prods are horrible, and can only redeem themselves by realising how horrible they are, rejecting everything about themselves and switching sides.

I don’t know much about Marie Jones, but I understand she’s a Belfast protestant herself. So am I. I went through an adolescent phase when, after learning about the crimes “my side” had committed, my sympathy for the “other side” became idealisation – a lot of us do, in adolescence. But it didn’t take long to realise how unrealistic that was. Yes, terrible things have been done by and on behalf of the protestant community in Northern Ireland, but it helps no-one to be ashamed of who you are. It’s possible to reject sectarian hatred and tribal loyalty without rejecting your own identity. In fact, it’s better if you don’t – how can you speak to your own community if you’ve rejected them and effectively joined another, or at least become a wannabe?

There are no positive images of protestants in this play, and no negative images of catholics. Although Kenneth checks under his car for IRA bombs, this is part of the comedy, the lowly clerk imagining he’s important enough to be a target; meanwhile, the play is bookended by a pair of horrific loyalist atrocities, which contribute to Kenneth’s change of character. Who is this supposed to speak to? I can’t imagine Catholics appreciating the patronising, “magic negro” portrayal of their community, and for a protestant, this play is an extended terrace chant of “you’re shit, and you know you are.” That’s hardly helpful to anybody.

Edited to add: Here’s a link to a review of another production of the play from the Montreal Mirror, that expresses what I was trying to say a bit more articulately and succinctly. Scroll down to the bit entitled “November Unmemorable”.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Belfast, Northern Ireland, Politics Comments No Comments »

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