Six thoughts (occasionally contradictory) on the Holylands hoo-ha

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1. If I lived in the Holylands area and was subject to that level of noise and disturbance,  it would drive me to some desperate act.  Noise pollution is not a good thing and shouldn’t be allowed.

2. There are some people who forget what it was like to be twenty. That’s when you drink too much, see larking around as a rather wonderful thing, and the odd bit of anti-social behaviour as a juicy bonus. If you can’t be irresponsible at twenty, when can you be?

3. For young people, the Holylands is a real draw. The students could walk to the city centre and join in the carnival there but they choose to stay in the Holylands and celebrate. And they’re joined by lots of others who don’t live in the Holylands. One young woman interviewed on radio said something like “The Holylands – it’s the best place in Ireland to be on St Patricks’s Day!”  What is it that the Holylands offers? It can’t simply be put down to delight in destruction and depravity.

4. Unionist politicians appear to be out of the blocks very quick on this one. Is there a possibility that they’re heaving a sigh of relief, that they’ve located something that might make themuns look as bad as usuns do on the Eleventh Night? Perish the thought.

5. Is there any possibility that the universities and the police would work to establish contact and engage in discussion with the students starting, say, in September, so that by the time 17 March rolls round, they’ll have developed decent personal relationships with the young people and even some code of conduct that will allow the young people to let off steam while allowing the residents to get a decent night’s sleep and their cars un-jumped-on?

6. Don’t shake your head and say “Young people today!  When I was their age…”  Slice off your tongue and eat it instead.

35 Responses to Six thoughts (occasionally contradictory) on the Holylands hoo-ha

  1. jessica March 19, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    When I was that age, that is where I would have been if I am being honest.

    I enjoyed drinking and good craic a little too much back then.

    It is only going to get bigger from here with people from all over the country attending not just students, if it keeps growing.

    What I would recommend is a distraction. What about another feile in Belfast, somewhere to draw the crowds with live music bands, cross community songs only?

  2. john Patton March 19, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    Young people were an indispensable part of the struggle for human rights in Northern Ireland when I was growing up there. The young people having over boisterous fun in Holylands this week will lead their communities in maturity.
    My father, a very conventional, law-abiding nationalist, had an old Aunt Minnie in Donegal who was a member of Cumann na mBan; her story is currently featured in a 1916 retrospective at the Tower Museum, Derry, My parents visited her in Beltany in 1974 when she was well into her 80s.
    ” It’s terrible on the News, James Francis, to see those young people out throwing stones at the military in Derry “, she said to my father who agreed that it was unacceptable behaviour.
    “Have they no guns?” she added in exaspiration

    • Jude Collins March 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

      Ha haaaaa! I LOVE it, John. Nothing like a punch-line that hits you on the back of the neck…

  3. billy March 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    video evidence,court,jail, criminal record..mummy n daddy wont like that.

  4. Maura Johnston March 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    You have articulated my thoughts!

    • Jude Collins March 19, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

      I could receive no higher commendation, Maura…

  5. Wolfe tone March 19, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    Let our youth let off a bit of steam for one day in the year. It must be very suffocating for young people nowadays being told how to behave and even think by all and sundry.
    It’s uplifting to see young folk have still got a bit of fire in their bellies. I was beginning to feel as if our education system was producing tamed down drones.

    • Jude Collins March 19, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

      Education does what it can, WT. Mercifully there are some sparks left…

    • giordanobruno March 19, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

      Its just asking adults to behave with a little respect for other people.
      How is getting pissed and urinating in an old couples garden showing fire in the belly?

      • jessica March 20, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

        “Its just asking adults to behave with a little respect for other people.”

        We could say the same about those organising orange parades where they are not wanted but unfortunately things are rarely as simple as that gio.

        There would be no issues in the first place if t were.

        • giordanobruno March 20, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

          Yes it is the same principle no matter who is doing it. Idiots behaving without thought for others.
          I don’t see how that is some kind of badge of honour as wolfe tone seems to be suggesting.
          Also (as with Orange parades) I see plenty of blame deflecting going on here.
          Blame the landlords, blame the residents, blame the police, blame the politicians. Blame anyone except the little darlings who are seemingly not responsible for their own actions.

          • jessica March 21, 2016 at 9:07 am #

            “Yes it is the same principle no matter who is doing it. Idiots behaving without thought for others.”

            Whether we like it or not gio, we live in a sectarian society.

            Even vandalism comes down to one side vilifying the other and some defending it, not because they don’t disagree that the actions were wrong, but because the other side are seen to be making so much of it.

            We are not going to normalise this society through vilification, yet that still seems to be the only show in town.

            I accept bonfires and marches etc… are part of orange culture, I have even said public money should be provided to ensure they are kept safe in return for keeping the two sides kept apart.

            I would like to see an Irish festival for St Patricks day, that would attract young people away from what looks like an enjoyable street party but to residents is a nightmare.

            Condemnation alone will not help don’t you think?

            Our country is divided and it is not along the jurisdictional border but between two communities and two opposing cultures throughout this small island.

            Perhaps we should address that first?

          • giordanobruno March 21, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

            I agree condemnation alone is not enough. There have been ongoing efforts by residents and University bodies to address this problem.
            Appealing to good sense clearly does not work either.
            I am just pointing out that there is personal responsibility on the part of these students, who are adults after all.
            As you say too often such things are used as a stick to thump the other lot with, as in;
            “If unionists are agin it then I’m for it!”
            Or vice versa.

      • Wolfe tone March 20, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

        Codswallop back at ye. This non story of paddys day ‘rioting’ etc is a pathetic attempt by state unionists to throw some dirt at those of a nationalist persuasion. To equate anything that went on on st paddys day with unionist twelfth shenanigans is laughable. To slam young folk from playing Irish rebel music on that day, again is hilarious.
        I wanna thank the BBC for their live coverage at the holylands, for without their input I wouldn’t have believed young ones would have had the temerity to shout ‘tiocfaidh ár lá’ etc for us viewers. After all they arnt taught it at school that’s for sure.
        P.s the so called riot that took place was BBC propaganda in overdrive. I have seen better riots on any given weekend in my town.

        • giordanobruno March 21, 2016 at 10:16 am #

          The codswallop is your notion that this behaviour is somehow uplifting.
          What is uplifting about getting falling over drunk and causing a nuisance to your neighbours? Please enlighten me?
          I’m not saying bring back the stocks or whatever, but lets call it what is…stupid drunken intimidating behaviour.

  6. Iolar March 19, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    Perhaps some older people should reflect on role models in contemporary society. Jumping on cars and damaging cars appears to have been acceptable recently outside Dáil Éireann. What would Robert McConnell and James Rea make of the Holy Land at present? The destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Gaza cannot be attributed to the abuse of alcohol.

    Perhaps it is time to look at issues surrounding the sale and distribution of alcohol. The USA Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) programme consisted of a brief survey given to students to help them assess their alcohol usage against other students. Counselling sessions were available to the students to provide support and how not be confrontational regarding alcohol use. A study found that students who completed the BASICS programme reduced average number of drinks per week, frequency of heavy drinking by two percent, peak blood alcohol concentration by thirty-five percent, and rate of alcohol-related problems by two percent. Contemporary statistics on addiction, crime, drink driving, domestic violence and hospital admissions remain a source of concern.

    There is an urgent need to ‘debunk’ many of the myths and fake lore associated with paddywhackery and celtic kitsch. The use of the term,“Be J….s,” in the USA was not becoming even for a caretaker Taoiseach. The scenes in the Holy Land or at Twaddel would not be tolerated in the USA or in France on Bastille Day. Jessica’s positive contribution has a lot of merit, for a an enjoyable 17 March 2017.

  7. Beachguy March 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    We slept through it all but there was drinking quite early in the day in mid afternoon.

    But the mood was good and celebratory.

    Someone told me the police kicked things off with some aggressive behavior but he wasn’t there so who knows.

    So maybe all those tee shirts and such with derogatory messages about drunkeness and such have a basis. At least maybe I’ll have to pipe down when I complain about them.

    And if I was their age I would have been in the middle of it. But now I’m too old and was sound asleep for hours before things got raucous.

  8. Belfastdan March 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    What we need is a proper St Patrick’s festival in Belfast.

    What Belfast City Council provides is a neutered event that some how manages to avoid anything to do with Ireland or Irishness. It must be the only place in the world that the expression of Irishness is curtailed on the national saints day.

    Everyone condemns the vandalism and loutish behaviour of some of the young people in the Holylands but when did you last see riot police and dogs sent in to a 11th night bonfire and could the PSNI explain exactly what were the pro IRA songs being allegedly sung or is it only Irish tunes and not loyalist songs that cause offence to their delicate sensibilities?

  9. paddykool March 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Some things just don’t change.Students will always drink to excess. Some are away from home for the first time and they haven’t a clue about life. Most would struggle to look after themselves and would possibly starve if takeaway food wasn’t on tap. Chips, pizzas , burgers ,burritos…get it down …! Many live in squalor as they dismantle their lodgings piece by piece…lodgings where they sometimes grow fungal cultures as yet unknown to science.
    They simply don’t notice what is going around them in the “real” world where most people are knackered working and want a night’s uninterrupted sleep before all else.Students , on the other hand , are thinking about nothing else other than the next Big Party and where to get enough money for more drink …and when they drink , like everyone else who drinks , they just become more deaf and make a lot of noise and turn the music and noise up louder…..and louder. They want basically to get as much booze down their necks as is humanly possible .It doesn’t much matter whether it tastes like the cheapest catspiss as long as it is cheap as chips and can be bought or made by the gallon. It’s not about taste … It’s about getting wrecked or blocked….
    This is the only time in your life it will be possible to do this before you grow up.It’ll end suddenly within a few short years and without the guise of “studenthood” you’ll just be another anti-social ,criminal, alcoholic who has outstayed your welcome.
    Students do some mad stuff.There’s no doubt about that. There’s usually a group with one particular mad bugger who’s up for stealing a road sign or chopping the head off a statue. He’ll always be egged on by his mad mates who’ll want to chalk up another crazy jape . Art students were supposed to be the wildest but i found that most of them couldn’t hold a candle to the medical students …now they really were out on a limb …in a class of their own when it came to craziness. Back over forty years ago .I can remember the drunken antics of one young man who shall remain nameless, who held the record for how many cars he could walk across before descending to the pavement. The same young man arrived home from a party barefooted , having misplaced his shoes somewhere during the previous night’s carousing. The grandchildren of this respectable, upright citizen might be astounded to hear some of those tales of yore. Then again I can remember one house-mate arriving back from a party with a fully-functioning flasing road sign which he thought might add a certain ambience to the room. it was covered with a blanket in the corner and spent several weeks quietly dying as the battery ran down. He simply thought it was the greatest idea ever.

  10. Antonio March 19, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

    I think your man walking about naked with a tricolour wrapped around him needed a severe boot up the arse.
    My old Dad suggested shooting him in the are, probably a little over the top ha

  11. fiosrach March 19, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    I don’t really like the way they disrespect the tricolour. What do they think it is – a union jack?

    • antonio March 20, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

      I don’t like it either. There were scored of teenagers floating around my area with the tricolour hanging off them like a cape. I bet most of them have never even heard of Pearse or Connolly. Embarassing

  12. Perkin Warbeck March 19, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    Sounds as if Holylands, Belfast on the night of St. Pat, Esteemed Blogmeister, is a bit like Temple Bar, Dublin any night you might care to mention.

    Not in the sense of cow-pats to carpet the pavements, more like yaaaahowwwww-pats, if that is what vomit sounds or even looks like, when spelt.

    Not sure why technicolour yawning is seen as such a sine qua non in the biz of celebrating on Planet Pat. Seems to be what is actually expected of us over-anxious Oirish by fascinated foreigners. Over-anxious in the sense of feeling it obligatory to live up to the stereotype on this holiest of holy days of obligation.

    The stereotype of a tribe of lushes in leprechaun hats and Conor McGregror beards, bent only on unhinging the think-box by dint of binge-drinking. With the inevitable end result of all that off-key McGregrorian chanting: conversing fustian with one’s shadow before heaving, and having one’s red facial fungus rubbed in the Liffeyside muck, a la one’s snot on Las Vegas canvas.

    Which may be one of the reasons why one tends to think at this time of the year of a very unstereotypical Leprechaun-speaking Lush.

    That would have been the remarkable Harry Lush with whom one once spent a not at all uninteresting afternoon as he reminisced about his times in his dream day-and night job: as manager of the Adelphi Cinema, Dublin 1.

    His route to this ultimate schoolboy’s pie-in-the-sky profession was a circuitous one. Taking in as it did: birth at an early age in 1916 to a flax-mill owning, Pollexfen-type Protestant family in Sligo, followed by a migration to County Wicklow. Schooling was in Newtown College, County Waterford, (where he achieved fluency in Leprechaun) Mountjoy School in Dublin and finally TCD, where he graduated with honours in Celtic Languages.

    He also won his, erm, colours on the TCD cricket, hockey and soccer teams. Indeed, his performances in the latter game had scouts from Arsenal and Manchester Utd (in pre-Salamander and Talking Thistle days) taking a gawk at him. Instead, he ended up training the rugby team in St. Columba’s College, in the foothills of the Dublin, erm, Mountains and teaching Leprechaun.

    While he could hardly be classified as a failure in any of these pursuits (the college team achieving a rare victory over Blackrock, while also managing to write a 120 page practical grammar of Leprechaun, the teacher, not the team) nonetheless his ambitions lay outside the classroom. And were firmly set on a life in the biz of show. Hence, his becoming the manager of the Adelphi Cinema.

    Despite the Adelphi being part of the Associated British Cinema chain the Bainisteoir nua saw to it that as well as Pathe News being shown the Gael Linn-produced news reel Amharc Eireann (no longer available in these, erm, pluralist times) got equal screen time.

    These were the days when cinemas often doubled as venues for personal appearances by the silver-haired stars of the silver screen, though the hair dye was optional. On one occasion he even introduced Cary Grant to Dev and on another occasion was very taken with the stage performance of another actor/ President – Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal. (Neal was part of the pre-Nancy era). J. Wayne, M. Dietrich and L.S. Amstrong were among his endless litany of clients.

    It was Harry Lush, e fein, who was in situ in 1963 when the Beatles played two gigs in the cinema. Indeed, it was Harry who smuggled the Mop Tops with their collarless grey jackets, out the back door and managed to have them transported to the safety of their hotel in the back of one of the next-door newspaper’s delivery vans. Almost nice to report that the dire history of Independent (sic) House (for it was it!) has not been exclusively mired in shame.

    Indeed, it was in the Bird Flanagan Bar of the same hotel that one imbibed the exhilarating anecdotes of a most convivial Harry Lush. That would be the Gresham Hotel on O’Jeckyl and Hyde Street. This was long before the most wide street in Europe (allegedly) fell prey to junkies and drunkies and became the street most need of its façade to hide (factually).

    And what a clientele the Grehsam Hotel could boast in 19 hundred and 63 (Fat Pat Devlin-speak): three months before the Beatles sought refuge there, none other than Gentleman Jim Reeves put his sweet lips a little closer to the phone in his room, to answer ballroom impresario Albert Reynolds’ call. Wondering if he didn’t mind agreeing to the cancellation of a few nights’ gigs in the Dreamland, Screamland and Shaving Creamland ballrooms, on account of the untimely, not to say inconvenient, death of Pope John 23.

    Needless to say, the magisterial Texan graciously agreed.

    A memorable afternoon therefore spent in the joyful company of an infectiously anecdotal man. The only slight pebble in the shoe being Harry’s inner grammarian’s surprising reluctance to take on board one’s suggestion that maybe the world Gresham was derived from YE Olde Leprechaune word; Greisim, meaning ‘to luxuriate’.

    One understands, for some inexplicable reason, that ‘greisim, greiseann tu, greiseann se/ si etc’ ‘ / I luxuriate, you luxuriate, he/ she luxuriates’ does not appear in his updated Leprechaun grammar book.

    In rugby circles (ovoids?) they are fond of referring to the (gulp) HARD YARDS. Harry Lush knew those same hard yards; but he also knew even harder yards. In his valiant efforts to have Leprechaun take its natural place in a contemporary and cosmopolitan Tower of Babel.

    It was from the same Harry, incidentally, that one first heard the tale of how the allegedly worldly-wise Judy Garland had sung ‘A pretty girl milking her cow’ in the Theatre Royal, Dublin in 1951. An acient ballad which she had originally sung in the Q’s English in the 1940 fillum ‘Little Nellie Kelly’. This time, for her appearance in Ireland, she even went to the bother of learning a phonetical version in the original Leprechaun. In, erm, deference to the Leprechaun-speakers on Liffeyside.

    Innocence, or what.

    This mysterious ballad is reputedly the only one overheard outside a fairly lios (by blind drunk harpist) and subsequently sung by humankind.

    One can still hear, in one’s inner ear, the homeric Harry Lush singing in he key of H in the bar of the Gresham:

    -Ta a beilin nios milse na smeara
    ‘s is gile na leamhnacht a sno
    Nil ogbhean nios deise san saol seo
    Na cailin deas cruite na mbo.

    No doubt if he were to try that sort of stunt in these enlightened days of pluraristic O’Tooloorlalaoora he’d be summarily turfed out on his Erse.

    The moral being; stick with being a leprechaun hat-wearing lush, rather than even dreaming of being a Leprechaun-speaking Lush.

    I bhfad nios slandala / much safer , don’t you know – on Liffeyside, at least.

    • Perkin Warbeck March 20, 2016 at 7:53 pm #


      Confucius say: Too many pukes spoil the broth of a boyo.

  13. ANOTHER JUDE March 19, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    I heard a Unionist politician complain to Mark Carruthers about the Gaelicisation` of Saint Patrick`s Day. He said he himself was a member of an Orange Order Lodge named after Saint Patrick. No irony in that at all. As far as the rioting goes, I seem to remember Unionist politicians actually blaming the PSNI for the violence during their flags protests. No irony there either.

  14. Ryan March 19, 2016 at 11:46 pm #

    I think its all one big overreaction. Of course its easy for me to say that because I don’t live there but its an area populated by students, our doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, etc of tomorrow. Of course they are not going to be the perfect neighbours. I’ve never been to University but I intend to do a degree in Physics or Maths in the future either at Queens or the Open University but I know a lot of people at Queens and the University of Ulster. The drinking, partying, letting your hair down, etc is all part of life as a student. I know some students that literally live on a diet of pot noodles, bottles of “boost” and beans on toast. Their wages, which is a pittance, is spent on the weekends booze session. But that’s a students life.

    Destruction of anyone’s property is completely wrong and that is going over the top and completely uncalled for, student or no student.

    Of course Unionist politicians will jump up and down about the disturbances and partying in the holyland. I have that strange feeling again that if this was a crowd of Loyalists celebrating the 12th in the Holyland and not crowds of students wearing green, waving Tricolours and celebrating Irish culture then political Unionism would’ve been a lot quieter on this topic….

  15. Am Ghobsmacht March 20, 2016 at 9:53 am #

    I personally don’t like this tolerance of lawlessness that we have in the wee six.

    OK, this is a wee bit over-hyped but I don’t like the undercurrent that comes with it, same applies to marching season and bonfires and the tolerance for paramilitary wot-not.

    And I’m very aware of student hi-jinx, I was a door steward (despite my cowardly demeanour and inability to fight even sleep) for years in Glasgow and I worked on occasion at the various student unions (except Strathclyde, thankfully).

    Booting out 20 somethings for drunken shenanigans was something I did on a regular basis as was tolerating their carry-on and nipping bad behaviour in the bud.

    But this carry-on in the Holylands is unlike something I’ve ever seen (out with a festival) at least not on a regular basis (standby for 12th of July whataboutery).

    This is going to end very badly for someone someday wether it be through a drunken fight (one punch death) or some eejit falling off a roof whilst defecating into a chimney) and everyone will be pointing fingers at everyone else (and everyone will be blaming the police).

    I say smother it by turning it into an official street party with stewards & security and tourists and other things that crush fun such as Health and safety.
    The security could isolate and expel trouble makers without being seen as being provocative as the police.

    Perhaps the residents could receive a cut in their rates or perhaps student lets could see an increase in their rates i.e. any house in multiple occupancy.

    I agree with point no. 4 too.

    • jessica March 20, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

      “I personally don’t like this tolerance of lawlessness that we have in the wee six.”

      Tell me about it AG.

      The present british government is blocking evidence of state collusion and actively covering up lawlessness within the intelligence services under the false pretence of national security (even though some of the events were 40 years ago) and no one seems to give a damn.

      The present secretary of state, when evidence was accidentally uncovered revealing the child sex abuse going on in Kincora involving members of the British cabinet in the 80s as well as intelligence service and other individuals within the state from the children being flown to England for sex parties as the evidence had been covered up here, moved the investigation out of the hands of the English inquiry which would have had the power to release all sensitive information to the HET who do not.

      It crosses all sections of the community too, state forces directly ordered or colluded in the deaths of republicans, loyalists, innocent civilians both Catholics and protestants as well as RUC when they got in their way.

      You would think in a normal society this would be appalling behaviour, but no, not here. It is perfectly acceptable to most people apparently.

      We wont tolerate one another’s view points one iota but we will happily allow the British state to get away with murdering out citizens, sexually abusing our children, denying human rights and so long as our politicians don’t make any noises about it, the media doesn’t question it and the British state simply say it is in our best interests with a straight face then its all good.

      Until the truth comes out and this cover up is ended, Northern Ireland will remain a disgusting and rancid entity let alone an abysmally failed state.

  16. michael c March 20, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    Maybe the SDLP councillor who owns most of the holyland could come up with a solution.

    • Jude Collins March 20, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

      Ahem – are you naming names, Michael??

  17. fiosrach March 20, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    Jude, as a man with his finger on the pulse, I cannot believe that you dont know his name.

    • Jude Collins March 20, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

      Did I say I didn’t? (:)

  18. billy March 20, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    the solution is in front of them now evidence,

  19. michael c March 20, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

    Declan Boyle ,the biggest landlord in Belfast.Maybe Clare Hanna could have a word with him when she’s not on radio ulster pontifficating in that phoney posh accent.

  20. Beachguy March 21, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Back in the day one could see real, genuine rioting around the 12th of ***( Take a guess).

    One only had to travel to Ardoyne, Springfield Rd., Portadown and for one lovely entire summer The Short Strand when some exuberant Scottish flute players ensconced in Cluan Place tormented the peaceful denizens of Claneboye.

    No such outrage then alas.