In between Christmas and New Year …

December 27, 2021

RTE Brainstorm had this seasonal article on how the wren - so closely associated with Christmas and especially with St Stephen's Day - became the king of the birds.

A Nativity theme to this fascinating Roaringwater Journal post on stained glass, by Finola Finlay, including the beautiful window by Harry Clarke pictured above. It's his Nativity Window, completed in 1919 for Edith Somerville and her family in the Church of Ireland St Barrahane's in Castletownshend. The photograph is s taken from the amazing images used to illustrate Finola's article.

The Examiner had this article by Festival contributor Andy Bielenberg, writing with Jim Donnelly about the dead of the revolutionary period in Cork. It reminded us that Cork recorded more violent deaths than Belfast or Dublin in the revolutionary period, over a third of them civilians. There is a link to UCC's Cork Fatality Register, of which Bielenberg is one of the authors.

Also on the Decade of Centenaries, BBC Northern Ireland has a series of podcasts exploring how Northern Ireland was created a hundred years ago - Year '21. Also from Northern Ireland, but this time more recent history is this new website resource - extraORDINARY women, exploring the roles and attitudes of women in Northern Ireland from 1965 until today. The website uses the resources of Belfast's Linen Hall Library.

Historical context for contemporary events is always worth having, and London's Royal Museums Greenwich had this on the background to quarantine (aka self-isolation) through their collections. The Museum's Dr Claire Warrior spoke at our 2021 digital Festival on the Irish in polar exploration, which in a way imposes another kind of voluntary self-isolation on those who take part.

And finally, a compelling Christmas ghost story by Elizabeth Bowen set in 1940s London - The Demon Lover - via Dublin's MOLI. You can listen here. The American magazine First Things published an article by Francis Young on the history of Christmas ghost stories, which is worth reading alongside.