Tuesday, 17 March 2015 00:00

Munich in Green and Black

St Patricks Day
Photo: Tobias Melzer

St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the Bavarian capital


With Ireland and Irish diasporas around the world honouring their patron saint today, E&M photographer Tobias Melzer takes a look at continental Europe's largest St. Patrick's Day parade, an emerald extravaganza of good cheer and cultural diversity that has been held annually in the German city of Munich since 1995.

When it comes to exportability, there's no saint quite like Patrick. His appeal seems to know no bounds and St. Patrick's Day parades have caught on in just about every corner of the world. This year will also see a number of European landmarks, including the Colosseum in Rome, Montmartre's Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the London Eye being illuminated in verdant hues as part of Tourism Ireland's "Global Greening".

Though Munich is perhaps best known for its beer halls and Brezen, not to mention the world-famous Oktoberfest, there is a least one day a year when being Bavarian takes a back seat and the city embraces other cultural traditions. Now in its 20th year, the Munich St. Patrick's Day parade not only showcases the breadth of the Irish community's cultural endeavours here – everything from hurling to folk dance – but also gives a platform to other nations represented in the city.  The 2015 edition, which took place last Sunday, featured contributions from as far afield as Slovenia. In a show of international understanding, leprechauns mingled with Lederhosen-clad musicians, a certain dark beer flowed freely alongside German Helles and even the lord mayor of Munich got on stage to sing a duet of "Whiskey in the Jar". Saint Patrick would surely have been proud.

Published in E&M Reports
Friday, 23 November 2012 06:09

A matter of choice

We live in a society where our government's failure to provide framework and legislation for abortion has resulted in the tragic and unnecessary death of a 31 year old woman. Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to University Hospital Galway, in the Republic of Ireland one week before she passed away on 29 October 2012. Savita had been admitted as a result of back pain, which turned out to be due to a miscarriage. Despite her continued request for a medical termination, doctors refused her on the grounds that the heartbeat of the foetus was still present and Ireland 'is a Catholic country'. The fact that Savita Halappanavar was neither Irish nor Catholic was immaterial to her pleas.

After she had endured more than two further days of agony from the foetus that was dying inside her, doctors finally removed it once the heartbeat had stopped. By this stage the damage had been done. Savita was transferred to the high dependency unit, before being moved to intensive care where she eventually died. The cause of her death was septicaemia, or in simple terms, blood poisoning. Although both the hospital itself and the Health Service Executive (HSE), a government body responsible for providing health and social services to people living in Ireland, are undertaking investigations into the case, it seems evident that had Savita's request to undergo a termination been respected, then the outcome might have been a whole lot different and she might have survived.

The case of Savita Halappanavar is greatly distressing, but perhaps even more so given the fact that the same thing could happen again tomorrow to another woman in any hospital in the Republic of Ireland. I find this thought extremely discomforting: should I find myself in similar circumstances one day, my survival could depend on which side of the Irish border I am living on.

Published in Reader Submissions
Sunday, 08 April 2012 07:31

Good Reads 08/04/2012


Lucy, Heart Editor 

New house? Make it a bright pink windmill

Whether you're travelling through the countryside in the Czech Republic or the Republic of Ireland, you'll see them: oversized houses, painted bizarre colours, and sometimes even featuring turrets and ornamental windmills. In countries where individual wealth has increased quickly over the last twenty years, people are sometimes scarily eager to show that they have the most oddly-shaped carport in the village - and Czech photographer Jan Kruml has documented some of the most weird and wonderful examples. Kruml has campaigned in the past to encourage Czech villagers to maintain their heritage and restore old buildings rather than building new ones inspired by their exotic holidays. His work raises interesting questions: should kitsch eyesores be banned, or does everyone have the right to make their home a castle?

What happened to the revolution?

If Marx travelled forward in time and found himself in the year 2012, watching bankers spend their bonuses or seeing Chinese workers queuing up for jobs making iphones at one of the Foxconn factories, he might have been surprised. Not all of his predictions have come true: for instance, how can we explain the fact that the financial crisis has not yet resulted in a mass revolt by the global proletariat? John Lanchester sets out to answer this question in a lecture called Marx at 193, which is very accessible to non-economists and features a fascinating description of "the world's most typical human being."

Women who "sell" their "assets": businesswomen, or victims?

Pole-dancing: can it be empowering? Or does it always encourage sexual inequality? The question of sexual empowerment divides young women today, with books such as Catherine Hakim's Honey Money suggesting that women should use their attractiveness for their own gain. Poet Sabrina Mahfouz tackles the question in her poem First Night, about a stripper's first night on the job. Mahfouz is an impressive performer, and the poem has many great moments linguistically (look out for the double use of "hard") - but what I really like about it is the way she creates a clamour of disorientating voices. For me, the feeling of overload which you have at the end of the poem reflects many women's sense of confusion and uncertainty when it comes to the question of empowerment.

Published in Good Reads
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