31 August 2013
Before the mid-day sun became too hot, I climbed the narrow streets and hills of the hill town of Rethymnon this morning to the old Venetian Fortezza that looms high above the town.
I have been there many times before, but today I wanted to see an exhibition of icons that is being staged as part of the 26th Renaissance Festival of Rethymnon this year, before it comes to a close tomorrow.
The exhibition is being staged in the Artillery Hall, close to the entrance to the Fortezza, and this is the second year an exhibition like this has been organised as part of the festival.
About 30 icon writers or painters are taking part in this exhibition, some of them well-known in Greece, but at least two remain anonymous, exhibiting simply as a member of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration and as a member of the Holy Monastery of Saint Irene, while George and Christopher Karaviotis give each other equal credit for their works. There is also once icon on loan from the Byzantine Art Centre in Rethymnon, which I visited last night.
But many are neither priests nor monks, and there are some woman among the exhibitors, including Eleftheria Syrianoglou, who is exhibiting a number of “table icons” worked in on various shapes of olive wood.
Emmanuel Nikolidakis works his three icons – including the Holy Four Martyrs of Rethymnon – on glass, and then frames them against a red background so they can be seen distinctly. George Christides has three large modern interpretations of traditional themes: the Lamentation at the Burial of Christ, the Annunciation, and the Angel of the Apocalypse.
There are new interpretation of the images from Fayum, which tell us a lot about the early development of icon painting, an amusing image of the “Sea gives up its Dead” ... although the artist is not listed in the catalogue.
This is an exciting collection of works seeking to maintain, develop and reinterpret a tradition religious art form.
The exhibition has been sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Diocese of Rethymnon and the Municipality of Rethymnon.
Last year’s exhibition was visited by Patriarch Bartholomeos, and the Metropolitan or Bishop of Rethymnon, Metropolitan Evgenios, who voiced their hope then that this exhibition would become an annual event.
After a further walk around the Fortezza, we stopped briefly in the shop, where there is an interesting collection of modern icons on sale.
We climbed back down through the side streets and alleyways and had lunch in Sarlo on Palaiologou street before heading down to the municipal beach for a swim in the sunshine and a walk along the shore.
For the next week I am staying in Pepi Studios on Tsouderon Street in Rethymnon. The name of the street honours the former Greek Prime Minister, Emmanuel Tsouderos (Εμμανουήλ Τσουδερός) (1882-1956), who was one of the best-known Greek political figures to have been born in Rethymnon.
Tsouderos was involved in the moves that led to Crete being integrated into the modern Greek state 100 years ago in 1913; he played a critical role in establishing the Bank of Greece during another financial crisis in the 1920s; and during World War II, he was involved in the resistance movement. He served briefly as Prime Minister of Greece, then as Prime Minister in the Greek government-in-exile, and he came close to securing an agreement with Britain that would have seen Cyprus becoming part of the modern Greece state in lieu of war reparations.
Emmanuel Tsouderos was born in Rethymnon in 1882, when Crete was still a part of the Ottoman Empire. He left his native Crete to study law at Athens University, and economics in Paris and London. When he returned to Crete at the age aged 24, he was elected to the Cretan Legislature (1906–1912), which ruled the island while Crete had autonomous status under the protection of Russia, Britain, France and Italy.
After ενωσις (enosis) or the union of Crete with Greece 100 years ago in December 1913, Tsouderos was elected to the Greek Parliament. Soon after, he joined the Liberal Party of the Cretan-born Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and was elected to the National Assembly again in 1915 and 1920. From 1919 to 1929 he represented Greece in many international meetings on commercial and economical issues and in talks on the Greek national debt.
He was Transport Minister under Venizelos, Finance Minister under Themistoklis Sophoulis (1860-1949), who was born in Samos, and Transport Minister again in the fourth Venizelos cabinet in January-February 1924.
As Deputy Governor of the National Bank, Tsouderos negotiated with representatives of the League of Nations in 1927 on establishing the Bank of Greece as a new central bank. The bank was officially formed on 15 September 1927 and began operating on 14 May 1928. Tsouderos became the first Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Greece, and when Alexandros Diomidis resigned as Governor of the Bank in 1931, Tsouderos succeeded him.
He was a vocal opponent of the Metaxas dictatorship, and Metaxas sacked him from the bank in 1939. Then, in 1941, as the Nazi army advanced towards Athens, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexandros Koryzis, committed suicide on 18 April, and Tsouderos succeeded him as Prime Minister of Greece on 21 April 1941. Eight days later, on 29 April 1941, as the army command prepared to capitulate, a defiant and heroic Tsouderos fled from Athens to Crete with King George II. Back in his native Crete, Tsouderos reorganised the Greek forces to resist the inevitable German invasion.
Tsouderos fled again during the Battle of Crete a month later. He went to the Middle East and later to Egypt. Tsouderos then headed the Greek government in exile from 29 April 1941 until 13 April 1944. The government was initially located in London, but subsequently moved to Cairo.
As Prime Minister in exile, he was at times also Foreign Minister (April 1941), Finance Minister (April to September 1941 and June 1943 to April 1944) and Interior Minister (May 1942 to April 1944).
As Prime Minister, he signed a memorandum with the British government in 1942 that agreed that Greece would receive control of Cyprus as a war indemnity. However, under British pressure, he resigned as Prime Minister on 13 April 1944. He later served in the government-in-exile under Sophocles Venizelos.
In the first post-war, centre-left cabinet of the by-then elderly Themistocles Sophoulis, he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Co-ordination from November 1945 to April 1946. In the cabinet of General Alexandros Papagos (1883-1955), an ageing general who had crushed the left in the Greek Civil War, he was Minister without Portfolio from November 1952 to October 1955.
Tsouderos died at the age of 74 in Nervi, Genoa, on 10 February 1956. He donated his papers to the Gennadius Library in the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
His daughter, the journalist, writer and economist Virginia Tsouderou, is a former Deputy Foreign Minister and New Democracy deputy. She was born in Iraklion in Crete and studied at Oxford, the University of Minnesota and Radcliffe-Harvard. She is a founding member and honorary president of the Greek branch of Transparency International.
Recently, she has been critical of the parlous state of Greek politics and public life. “There has been a silent agreement between the two main parties for decades that there was no political corruption in Greece,” she said recently. “But people are so angry now that if the government does not open up and crack down on corruption there will be big trouble.”
30 August 2013
I arrived back in Rethymnon this afternoon [30 August 2013], and for the next week I am staying once again on Tsouderon Street in Pepi Studios – a small hotel in this charming old-world town on the north coast of Crete.
Tsouderon Street is the heart of a small coastal city that many regard as one of the best-preserved Venetian Renaissance cities in Greece.
I first stayed in this town a quarter of a century ago in 1988, and I was back in Rethymnon for a week last summer.
Pepi Studios is a small, quiet hotel at No 22 Tsouderon Street, housed in a charming old Venetian building in a side street off Arkadiou Street.
The entrance to the hotel is squeezed between an ATM for the local branch of the National Bank of Greece, which is housed in an impressive neoclassical villa, and Bistro 22, which is both a café and a bar, and in the morning it becomes the breakfast room for Pepi’s guests.
Pepi has 14 studios and four maisonettes, arranged around a charming garden and a small outdoor swimming pool. Each studio has a kitchen, free Wi-Fi internet and a flat screen TV with satellite channels.
We are staying Studio 7, with a balcony looking straight down onto Tsouderon Street. Behind the white walls and gardens around the pool, I can see the library behind Aghia Barbara Church, and the minaret of the former Valide Sulana Mosque juts up above the roofs of the shops and houses to the south.
This afternoon, we walked down to the corner with Arkadiou Street, and then took a lazy ramble through the streets of the old town. I am only a few hundred metres walking distance from both the old harbour and the town’s lengthy, sandy beach, which stretches for miles to the east as far as one can see.
The fortezza and the old Venetian harbour are nearby, and there are museums, galleries and old Venetian and Ottoman buildings around every corner, with tavernas, restaurants, cafés and bars on every street, corner and square.
This year in Crete, people are celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of ένωσις (enosis) or Crete’s incorporation into the modern Greek state after two and half centuries of Ottoman rule. As part of the centenary celebrations and this year’s programme for Rethymnon’s Renaissance Festival, an adaptation of Patouchas by Ioannis Kondylakis is being staged in the Erofili Theatre in the Fortezza tonight. It tells the story of a young Cretan shepherd’s efforts to understand and conform to the social values of his parents’ village, recording the ways and mores of the Greek countryside.
Or, perhaps, this evening I’ll see if I can find some traditional Cretan music. The Renaissance Festival continues in Rethymnon until Sunday [1 September], and I hope to catch some of the remaining items on the programme, including an icon exhibition which opened in the Artillery Hall in the Fortezza the weekend before last [17 August 2013] and continues until Sunday.
Last year, I spent some time photographing and cataloguing the fountains, mosques and doorways of Rethymnon. But the town also has numerous Byzantine churches and monasteries, enchanting Venetian monuments and palazzos, Ottoman balconies, and narrow alleyways, quiet squares and side streets that are oozing with charm and curiosity.
During our stroll this afternoon, we had a late lunch in Akri, which has been one of my favourite restaurants since the 1980s. It is a charming taverna in a quiet corner off Kornaru Street, offering traditional, home-made Cretan dishes. The courtyard has patches of green everywhere with a refreshing scent of jasmine and with small tables under a wooden trellis with dripping, overhanging vines.
And during the coming week I plan to find time for long, lingering meals with friends, walks on the beach, time to visit the olive groves and the monasteries in the mountains above Rethymnon, and time to photograph the unique Ottoman hanging wooden balconies in this town.
Bradley Manning to receive Sean MacBride Peace Prize,
Irish CND President tells Hiroshima Day commemoration
This morning’s edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette [30 August 2013] carries a half-page report and a three-column photograph on page 6 following my address as President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Irish CND) at the annual Hiroshima Day commemorations in Merrion Square, Dublin, earlier this month [6 August 2013].
Bradley Manning to receive Seán MacBride Peace Prize,
Irish CND President tells Hiroshima Day commemoration
The President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Irish CND), Canon Patrick Comerford, has announced that this year’s Seán MacBride Peace Prize is to go to the jailed US whistle-blower, Bradley Manning.
Canon Comerford was speaking at Irish CND’s recent annual Hiroshima Day commemoration at the Hiroshima Cherry Tree in Merrion Square, Dublin.
During the commemoration, a wreath was laid at the Cherry Tree by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Oisín Quinn. Other speakers included the poet, Hugh McFadden; Tomoko Matsumoto, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy; and Dr David Hutchinson Edgar, a parishioner of Tallaght.
Also present were the Ambassador of Mexico, Carlos Garcia de Alba, and Grete Ødegaard, Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission, the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
The Seán MacBride Peace Prize is named after the Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner, the late Seán MacBride, a former President of Irish CND and of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) in Geneva, to which Irish CND is affiliated.
The prize is presented each year by the IPB and Canon Comerford said that this year’s award to Bradley Manning was “for his courageous actions in revealing information about US war crimes.”
Canon Comerford continued: “When Bradley Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the US military, he was engaging in an act of obedience to this high moral duty. Already, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Bradley Manning has also revealed the whereabouts of US tactical nuclear weapons, as well as the location of key US military facilities.
“War operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war.”
The President of Irish CND described the heavy sentence facing Bradley Manning as “not only unjust but also having a very negative effect on the right to freedom of expression that the US claims to uphold.”
Canon Comerford asserted: “It is to the shame of Ireland that neither of these modern-day heroes, holders of the banner of morality in the immoral nuclear age, has not been offered asylum in this country.
“We ought to be grateful to them, each for taking the risk that comes and raising … subjects which ought to be discussed in public and which no statesman cares to approach.”
29 August 2013
The Commercial Property supplement of The Irish Times reported this week [29 August 2013] that Loreto Abbey, a collection of former college, school and church buildings in Rathfarnham, is up for sale at a “knockdown price” of €2.5 million after lying idle for the past 14 years.
In its report this week, The Irish Times noted: “Whatever enterprise ends up in Loreto Abbey, the promoters will obviously have to consider the provision of a car park under part of the front grounds.”
However, I think a more important consideration is the future of Rathfarnham House, which is an important work by Edward Lovett Pearce. But even more important, perhaps, is the future of the abbey church, which represents a significant stage in the work of the great Gothic Revival architect, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
The estate agents Savills have been appointed by the receiver David Carson to handle the sale of the Georgian house, Pugin chapel and other buildings which stand on 1.82 hectares (4.49 acres) on Grange Road in Rathfarnham.
The property developer Liam Carroll bought Loreto Abbey and an adjoining 12 acres in 1999, supposedly for €14 million, and later built and sold 10 blocks of apartments with 271 units.
Carroll also had planning permission to convert some of the buildings into a 113-bedroom nursing home but the Irish financial crisis put an end to those plans. His company, Danninger, was one of the first to fall in the property crash.
Since NAMA took over Loreto Abbey, the buildings and grounds have fallen into disrepair, and the gates have been padlocked, barring entry to anyone with an interest in local or architectural history and heritage.
The buildings have an overall floor area of 8,627 square metres (92,860 sq ft) and it is reported they have been extensively weather-proofed over the last six months. The site’s residential zoning means the buildings could become apartments, a nursing home, or be used for medical facilities or education.
Jill Horan of Savills told The Irish Times this week that the property provides developers, speculators and owner-occupiers with a “truly superb canvass to work from.” She said the buildings had huge development potential and offered developers an opportunity to create a unique residential or commercial scheme.
Most of the buildings on the site are linked by the central Georgian house once known as Rathfarnham House, which is flanked by the Irish granite wings of the church (1846) and Saint Anne’s to the south, with Block L and the concert hall added between 1863 and 1903.
The buildings are a treasure trove of architectural gems, from the beautiful church with its Gothic vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows to the abbey, with its splendid plasterwork and gracious living accommodation.
The buildings are set back from Grange Road and are approached by a double driveway. They overlook attractive pleasure grounds with mature trees.
Rathfarnham House was designed in 1725 for William Palliser (1695-1762) by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, who also designed Parliament Buildings in College Green, Drumcondra House (now part of All Hallows’ College), many of the houses in Henrietta Street, including Nos 9, 11 and 12.
William Palliser’s father, William Palliser (1646-1727), was once Professor of Divinity in Trinity College Dublin and later Archbishop of Cashel (1694-1727). It is said Palliser’s guests at Rathfarnham House included Dean Jonathan Swift, George Frideric Handel, who first visited Dublin in 1741, and Thomas Moore, who is believed to have written ‘Oft in the Stilly Night’ here. The story is told that during a banquet one night, the gathering wanted Moore to compose a poem, and he was locked in one of the rooms until he came out with the masterpiece. However, Moore was born in 1779, and was only 16 when the last of Pallisers died, and ‘Oft in the Stilly Night’ was probably written in 1815, when Rathfarnham House may have been vacat..
When William Palliser died in 1762, he had no children and Rathfarnham House was inherited by his cousin, the Revd John Palliser. When John died in 1795, the house was bought by George Grierson, the King’s Printer in Ireland. When Grierson moved to a new house in Woodtown, Rathfarnham House was left unoccupied for a few years until 1821, when the house and 40 acres were bought for £2,000 by Archbishop Daniel Murray for the newly-founded Loreto Order.
Rathfarnham House then became known as the Abbey, and between 1838 and 1840, a new chapel was built for the nuns according to designs by AWN Pugin (1812-1852). In parts of the chapel, Pugin’s designs were inspired by the lantern in Ely Cathedral.
Pugin’s drawings for the church were prepared at the same time as his plans for Saint Michael’s Church, Gorey, Co Wexford, and Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham. They all date from 1839, and together they mark the end of the first phase of his career.
His drawings were completed by 28 May 1839. However, the building was simplified in execution John Benjamin Keane working with Patrick Byrne. The angels on either side of altar by the sculptor John Hogan are believed to be based on Hogan’s two eldest daughters.
The chapel has been closed to the public for a decade and a half or more. This is the Pugin work nearest to where I live and work, but when I tried to visit it about two years ago I was allowed through the gates to see the exterior of the chapel, but unfortunately I was unable to see inside.
I called by again this evening on my way home from work, but the gates are rusty and remain padlocked.
A major concern at this stage must be about securing the preservation of this unique part of our architectural heritage.
The unique Octagon or Lantern Tower is the glory of Ely Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
Today [29 August] is observed liturgically by most Christian traditions, including most Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran churches, as a day commemorating the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.
Saint John the Baptist was beheaded on the orders of Herod Antipas through the vengeful request of his daughter Salome.
The story of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist is a story that places personal integrity, morality and honour in stark contrast to self-centred arrogance, vengeance, and the tyrannical abuse of power.
According to the Synoptic Gospels, Herod, who was Tetrarch of Judea, had imprisoned Saint John the Baptist after he reproved Herod for divorcing his wife and unlawfully marrying Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip.
On Herod’s birthday, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced before him and his guests. The drunken Herod was so pleased that he promised her anything she desired, including half his kingdom. When her mother prompted Salome to ask for the head of Saint John the Baptist on a platter, he was executed in prison. The disciples took his body and buried it, but the Gospel accounts say nothing about what happened to his head (Matthew 14: 1-12; Mark 6: 14-29; see Luke 9: 7-9).
Today’s liturgical commemoration is almost as old as the commemoration of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist on 24 June. In some Orthodox cultures, today is a day of strict fasting.
A traditional icon showing scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist
According to some Orthodox traditions, Saint John’s disciples buried his body at Sebaste, near present-day Nablus on the West Bank, but Herodias took his head and buried it in a dung heap. Later, Saint Joanna, the wife of one of Herod’s stewards, secretly recovered the head and buried it on the Mount of Olives, where it remained hidden for centuries. In the fourth century, a monk named Innocent is said to have found the buried head, but hid it again.
Over a century later, in the year 452, when Constantine the Great was Emperor, two monks in Jerusalem on a pilgrimage claimed to have found the head once again, but it fell into the hands of an Arian monk, Eustathius. Eventually, Archimandrite Marcellus brought the head to Emesa in Phoenicia.
Yet other traditions say Herodias had the head buried in Herod’s fortress at Machaerus or in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. It was found during the reign of Constantine and secretly taken to Emesa, where it was hidden until it was found once again in 453.
From Emesa, the head was brought to Constantinople. Although it was moved to Cappadocia in the early ninth century during the iconoclastic persecution, it was returned later to Constantinople.
According to another tradition, the body of Saint John the Baptist remained in Sebaste. However, his shrine was desecrated under Julian the Apostate ca 362. A portion of the rescued relics was brought first to Jerusalem and then to Alexandria in 395. Today, the former tomb in Nablus is at the Nabi Yahya Mosque or Saint John the Baptist Mosque.
Today, several places claim to have the severed head of Saint John the Baptist, including the Church of San Silvestro in Capite in Rome, Amiens Cathedral in France, Antioch in Turkey, the Romanian skete of Saint John Prodromos (Saint John the Baptist) on Mount Athos in Greece, and the former Basilica of Saint John the Baptist in Damascus. Because of the traditions relating the head to the Syrian capital, many Muslims believe that Christ’s second coming will take place in Damascus.
Father Irenaeus, a monk in the Monastery of Saint Macarius in Wadi Natrun, shows me the relics in the crypt of Saint John the Baptist below the northern wall of the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
In Egypt, when I visited the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great at Wadi el-Natrun, about 100 km north-west of Cairo, in the Desert of Sceits, Father Irenaeus, a monk in the monastery, showed me the relics of Saint John the Baptist in the crypt of the main church in the monastery.
The Church of Saint Macarius was restored in recent decades at the request of the late Pope Shenouda III. We were told that during the restoration of the church, the monks unearthed the crypt of Saint John the Baptist and the crypt of the Prophet Elisha below the northern wall . The relics were then gathered into a special reliquary and placed before the sanctuary of Saint John the Baptist in the Church of Saint Macarius.
The monastery has spiritual, academic and fraternal links with several monasteries outside Egypt, including Chevetogne in Belgium, Solesmes Abbey and the Monastery of the Transfiguration in France, Deir el-Harf in Lebanon and the Community of the Sisters of the Love of God at the Convent of the Incarnation at Fairacres in Oxford.
Each day, the monastery receives large numbers of Egyptian and foreign visitors, sometimes as many as 1,000 people a day. The monks give special priority to priests, full-time lay workers and Sunday school teachers as visitors, and during the summer holidays, the monastery offers many young people opportunities to spend a few days on retreat, with spiritual direction and guidance.
The monastery is playing a significant role in the spiritual awakening of the Coptic Church. “We receive all our visitors, no matter what their religious conviction, with joy, warmth and graciousness, not out of a mistaken optimism, but in genuine and sincere love for each person,” says the monastery website.
In his book, Church and State, one of the monks, Father Matta el-Meskeen, declares that politics should be entirely separated from religion. “Give therefore to emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22: 21). In other writings, such as Sectarianism and Extremism, Father Matta warns against the common tendency of minorities to be wrapped up in themselves and to despise others.
The monks say they live out fully the unity of the Church in spirit and in truth, “in anticipation of its visible attainment ecclesiastically. Through our genuine openness of heart and spirit to all men, no matter what their confession, it has become possible for us to see ourselves, or rather Christ, in others. For us, Christian unity is to live together in Christ by love. Then divisions collapse and differences disappear, and there is only the One Christ who gathers us all into His holy Person.”
And they add: “It is our hope that the desert of Scetis will become once more the birth place of good will, reconciliation and unity between all the peoples on earth in Christ Jesus.”
These monks are an example to us all. Meanwhile, those places associated with Saint John the Baptist in the Middle East, including Syria, Turkey, the West Bank and Egypt must be in our prayers this morning as we pray that integrity, morality and honour should triumph over arrogance, vengeance and the tyrannical abuse of power.
With Father Irenaeus, a monk in the Monastery of Saint Macarius in Wadi Natrun in the Western Desert in Egypt
Jeremiah 1: 4-10; Psalm 11; Hebrews 11: 32 to 12: 2; Matthew 14: 1-12.
who called your servant John the Baptist
to be the forerunner of your Son in birth and death:
strengthen us by your grace
that, as he suffered for the truth,
so we may boldly resist corruption and vice
and receive with him the unfading crown of glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
whose prophet John the Baptist
proclaimed your Son as the Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world:
grant that we who in this sacrament have known
your forgiveness and your life-giving love
may ever tell of your mercy and your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
28 August 2013
It is fifty years ago today since the Revd Dr Martin Luther King made his “I Have a Dream” speech on 28 August 1963.
Twenty years later, as I was writing my first book, Do You Want to Die for NATO? (Dublin and Cork: Mercier Press, 1984), I selected quotation for Martin Luther King to head three of the seven chapters:
“Our world is threatened by the grim prospects of atomic annihilation because there are still too many who know not what they do” (Chapter, 1, p. 9).
“We have guided missiles and misguided man” (Chapter 2, p. 16).
“In our day of space vehicles and guided ballistic missiles, the choice is either non-violence or non-existence” (Chapter 7, p. 89).
Those quotations have not lost their relevance and significance three decades later. Nor have the points made by King in his “I Have a Dream” speech half a century later.
Last weekend, the Economist pointed out that King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was a simple clarification of America’s founding promise that "all men are created equal,” and have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But, while it pointed out that America has changed beyond recognition over the past 50 years, the legacy of discrimination is hard to shake off.
Despite the end of most forms of segregation and the election of a black President, black Americans remain likelier that white Americans to lack jobs, be poor, get arrested and spend time in prison, and the gap in household income has widened from 2000 to 2011 and is enormous.
The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman on the night of 26 February 2012, in Sanford, Florida, Zimmerman's acquittal of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges last month [13 July 2013], and the subsequent reactions and protests show how divided and insensitive many sections of American society are to this day.
In his speech to over 250,000 civil rights marchers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King called for an end to racism in the United States. The speech has since become a defining moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Dr King waxed eloquently as he went out live on radio and television. At the end of his speech, he left his prepared text for an improvised set of excited exhortations beginning: “I have a dream …” His improvisation was probably prompted by Mahalia Jackson as she cried out: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”
You can listen to the speech here.
‘I have a dream,’ the Revd Dr Martin Luther King jr, 28 August 25, 2013:
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.
One hundred years later the life of the still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.
One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
So we have come here today to dramatise a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque, a cheque which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
So we have come to cash this cheque – a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.
This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilising drug of gradualism.
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.
Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children.
Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
Now is the to make justice a reality for all God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.
There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today. They have come to realise that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights: “When will you be satisfied?”
We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.
We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.
We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.
We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No. No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.
Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells.
Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.
You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a stat, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor whose lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning: “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.
So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
For the past half century, there has been public controversy about the copyright status of the speech. I am making it available on this anniversary for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, which constitute a ‘fair use’ of copyrighted material under Title 17 USC section 107 of the US Copyright Law, and this material is not being distributed for profit.
Copyright inquiries and permission requests may be directed to: Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Intellectual Properties Management, One Freedom Plaza, 449 Auburn Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30312.
26 August 2013
I was recalling yesterday the words of Noel Purcell and Leo Maguire in ‘The Dublin Saunter’:
Grafton Street’s a wonderland,
There’s magic in the air.
There are diamonds in the lady’s eyes
And gold-dust in her hair.
And if you don’t believe me,
Then come and meet me there,
In Dublin on a sunny summer’s morning.
I had sauntered up and down the wonderland that is Grafton Street three times on Sunday afternoon in the summer sun. Each time I stopped every now and then to photograph buildings of architectural interest.
Grafton Street dates from the early 18th century, when it was developed as a mixed residential and commercial street, and it was redeveloped later that century when it became an important north-south inner city crossing.
Today, it still regards itself as Dublin’s most elegant shopping street, but it also attracts high rents, a high number of buskers and a large number of tourists.
In the summer sunshine, and at many other times too, despite many of the ugly 20th century shop-fronts and the wilful destruction of many of the attractive Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian ground-floor features, it is an attractive and endearingly-entertaining street to saunter along.
But most people walk along with their eyes on the shop-fronts, the buskers, or the people in front of them, instead at looking up at the next levels and at this great collection of architectural styles and buildings.
Starting on the corner of Nassau Street on the left (east) side, heading up Grafton Street towards Saint Stephen’s Green, the first building to look at has a two-tier oriel window, designed by Laurence A McDonnell.
It is a sad statement of where Dublin is today – just as the Town Hall in Bray is a sad statement – that McDonalds occupies the ground floor of the former Mitchell’s Hotel at 9-11 Grafton Street. A five-bay building, it was designed by the partnership of WM Mitchell, in which Charles H Mitchell and John M Mitchell continued the name of their father, William Mansfield Mitchell (1842-1910), whose father started in business in Grafton Street as a confectioner at No 10. WM Mitchell’s work can be seen all along Grafton Street.
Mitchell’s Hotel was built in 1926 with a central balcony that had a vista down the full length of Wicklow Street. Next door, at Nos 12-13, from 1860, stood the Royal Hotel. But I imagine few people dropping in for a Big Mac take time to step back into Wicklow Street and look up at this once majestic hotel.
The window pattern on No 14 is the last surviving example on Grafton Street of the old Dutch Billys that dominated the skyline of central Dublin in the 18th century. This Anglo-Dutch building style was named after William of Orange, and it was more reminiscent of Amsterdam than of London.
The broad first-floor window has a handsome stucco frame and lettered finial that were added in 1868, when the building was trading as a carpet shop.
The facades of Nos 15-20 have survived over the generations, despite extensive rebuilding for Brown Thomas, which began at Nos 16-17 and Marks and Spencer, which now sweeps around the corner into Duke Street, to meet Davy Byrne’s where, James Joyce tells us, Leopold Bloom had a glass of burgundy and a gorgonzola sandwich on Bloomsday.
On the east side of Grafton Street, between Duke Street and Ann Street, Nos 24-25, built “Celtic revival” style for William Longfield, was once one of the finest Romanesque facades until the ground floor was vandalised to make way for modern shopfronts. The building was designed by Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt (1820-1877), a descendant of John Wyatt (1675-1742), of Weeford near Lichfield, a member of an outstanding family of architects, the pre-eminent example of an artistic dynasty that continued to work in architecture for at least eight generations: at the end of the 18th century, James Wyatt (1746-1813), was involved in a reorganisation Lichfield Cathedral that was later criticised by AWN Pugin; Sir Jeffrey Wyattville (1766-1840) was responsible for the Gothic appearance of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; and Matthew’s brother, Thomas Henry Wyatt (1807-1880), designed Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Ballsbirdge, and was involved in the restoration of Saint Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny.
The original shopfront at Nos 24-25 combined details from many churches and cathedrals, including the doorway in Saint Lachtain’s Church, Freshford, Co Kilkenny, crosses from Monasterboice, Co Louth, and the chancel arch and crosses from Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Tuam, Co Galway.
The first and second floors, which have survived, have two super-imposed Romanesque arcades. Above them, the third or attic floor is designed like a Venetian loggia. The rich details throughout these three floors include interlaced capitals, keystone masks, foliated string courses, and chevron or saw-tooth ornamentation.
The Irish Builder on 18 July 1863 described this as “neither more nor less than an effort to adapt some of the more picturesque elements of ancient Irish ornamentation to the decoration of a structure ministering to the directly utilitarian exigencies of the present day.”
The Irish Builder hoped Wyatt would “stimulate many an Irish architect to ... recreate a national style,” and praised it for being “at once novel and successful.”
No 42 Grafton Street is also the work of William Mitchell, who refurbished the building in 1870 for Rathborne’s as a shop, billiards room and apartments. The building has an attractive Gothic facade, with a pointed, triple-light window on the first floor.
Returning back down Grafton Street on the west side from Saint Stephen’s Green towards College Green, No 62 has an attractive ‘Tudor Revival’ front designed by Millar and Symes (1911).
On Grafton Street’s north corner with Chatham Street, No 64 was also designed by Laurence McDonnell. It is built in red brick, with narrow gabled fronts, tall brick pilasters, a fine balcony on the third floor, and terracotta dressings.
Recently, Phil Lynnott’s statue was returned to its place outside the Bruxelles (Zodiac) in Harry Street, looking out to Grafton Street.
No 70 Grafton Street, standing on the corner with Harry Street, is also the work of Laurence McDonnell, who designed it in 1900 for the American Shoe Company in Jacobean style with brick pilasters. Next door, No 71 Grafton Street shows the influence of John Ruskin’s interpretation of the Gothic style.
The next building, No 72, is the former Grafton Cinema which ran all-day cartoon shows in the 1960s and 1970s. It is a combination of Tudor Revival and Arts and Crafts styles, and was designed in 1911 by RFC Orpen (1863-1938), a brother of the painter William Orpen (1878-1931).
On the corner with Johnson’s Court, which leads onto Clarendon Street, Nos 81-82 Grafton Street was rebuilt as one premises in 1861. It has a handsome stucco skin added to the first and second storey by John C Burne, with corner quoins, a bracketed cornice and window pediments.
It is hard to believe that Grafton Street once had its own Turkish Baths. Nos 97-99, above Weir’s the jewellers, was rebuilt by George O’Connor in 1934 as the Maskora Turkish Baths, with an Art Deco frontage that includes piers pierced by narrow vertical windows.
Nos 102-103 Grafton Street, now River Island, was designed for Weir’s in 1912 by WH Byrne and Son, with Jacobean elevations in brick and Portland stone and elaborate carvings that are the work of Charles W Harrison, who also did the carvings throughout Saint Bartholomew’s Church in Ballsbridge. The style was heavily influenced by Edwardian Classicism and the work of Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912), who had been trained by George Edmund Street and William Burn, and whose works included New Scotland Yard.
Moving further north down Grafton Street from the junction with Suffolk Street towards College Green, No 108 Grafton Street has been the premises of Barnardo’s the furriers for over 200 years, since 1812, and it still has some remains of a 19th century stucco facade.
No 114 was originally a branch of the Royal Bank designed by WH Lynn in 1904. Now a clothes shop, it has an over-the-top, three-bay facade, with a heavy, yellow sandstone, palazzo-style ground floor and polished granite and red marble columns that climb up the first and second storey.
No 116 was designed in 1906 for the bookseller Edward Ponsonby by Lucius O’Callaghan (1877-1954), who set up an independent practice when he was only 26. This building, with its narrow sandstone frontage, has giant Ionic columns that frame a bowed, two-storey Doric screen on the windows of the second and third floor.
My walks up and down Grafton Street on Sunday afternoon began or ended at the junction of Grafton Street and College Green, where the former offices of the Commercial Union Assurance Company was designed in 1879-1885 by Sir Thomas Newneham Deane and Thomas Manly Deane in the Scottish Baronial style.
This is the only surviving non-classical building on College Green. Built in yellow sandstone, it is a delightful riot of turrets, gable fronts, mullioned windows, a pointed ground-floor arcade, the romantic heads of a queen and king, and a pair of plaques representing Dublin and London in harmony – a confident statement of late Victorian Dublin unionism opposite the former Parliament buildings and Trinity College Dublin.
Thank goodness, despite the changes in commercial use over almost a century and a half, this one piece of Grafton Street architectural grandeur has not been bowdlerised at ground floor level.
Further reading: The Irish Builder; the Irish Architectural Archive; Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), Pevsner Architectural Guides series.
25 August 2013
For Dublin can be heaven,
With coffee at eleven
And a stroll in Stephen’s Green.
There’s no need to hurry,
There’s no need to worry ...
– ‘The Dublin Saunter’ (Noel Purcell/Leo Maguire)
With coffee at eleven
And a stroll in Stephen’s Green.
There’s no need to hurry,
There’s no need to worry ...
– ‘The Dublin Saunter’ (Noel Purcell/Leo Maguire)
It was less coffee and more heaven at 11 this morning, as I was preaching at Morning Prayer near Saint Stephen’s Green in Saint Ann’s Church in Dawson Street.
After a leisurely mid-day saunter down Grafton Street, I joined five others for lunch in The Larder in Parliament Street. Later, three of us headed back up Grafton Street for a stroll around the Open-Air Photographic Exhibition on the railings on the north side of Saint Stephen’s Green, followed by a short stroll through the Green.
The two-day exhibition, yesterday and today, was organised by People’s Photography, a non-profit group of volunteers, which donates all surplus monies remaining after administration costs to registered charities.
In this afternoon’s sunshine, we found the truth of those words from Noel Purcell and Leo Maguire:
There’s no need to hurry
There’s no need to worry
Many of the exhibitors were award-winning members of well-known camera and photographic club, and many had also exhibited last month in Pearse Street Library in Photo 2013, the annual exhibition of the Dublin Camera Club.
There were photographs taken in Cuba, New York, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Nepal, France and Cambodia, and photographs taken in many familiar places throughout Ireland. But even when the locations were familiar and well-known, in each case it was interesting to see how someone else looks through a view-finder and uses a lens.
In Saint Stephen’s Green, I wondered how many people walking through it this afternoon knew the names given to the different tree-lined walks as they were being laid out in the mid-18th century.
As we walked along Beaux Walk on the north side, we stopped to admire the open, seven-bay pavilion near the north-east corner, by the shores of the lake, erected in 1898.
We left the Green by through the Royal Dublin Fusiliers’ Arch, designed by J Howard Pentland and Sir Thomas Drew to commemorate the Irish casualties in the Boer War, and erected in 1907 on the north-west corner of Saint Stephen’s Green, facing the stop of Grafton Street.
‘The Dublin Saunter,’ written by Leo Maguire in the 1940s and first recorded by Noel Purcell, continues:
Grafton Street’s a wonderland,
There’s magic in the air.
There are diamonds in the lady’s eyes
And gold-dust in her hair.
And if you don’t believe me,
Then come and meet me there,
In Dublin on a sunny summer’s morning.
In the sunny summer’s afternoon, we strolled back down the wonderland that is Grafton Street. It was my third time along Grafton Street today, and each time I stopped every now and then to photograph buildings of architectural interest. But they make up a story for another day.