No police, no body: why cruise ships suit the perfect crime

While you wait for him to travel to the ship, professional housekeepers unwittingly clean crime scenes. The last CCTV images of her were captured four decks below, talking on the phone and looking upset, and her credit card was used two months after her disappearance. This was despite the facts that Coriam was British, that the Disney Cruise Line was domiciled in London, and that the incident took place somewhere between the United States and Mexico. On February 9th last, the family boarded the MSC Magnifica in Civitavecchia, Italy. When the ship docked, the crew removed her belongings, later donating them to charity. A single Bahamian police officer, Paul Rolle, travelled to meet the ship in Los Angeles and investigated the case. Maritime law A cruise ship sailing in international waters is governed by the rules of maritime law, which state that the authority on board is that of the country where the ship is registered. Rolle concluded that Coriam had been swept off deck five by a rogue wave. It was founded by an American, Kendall Carver, whose own daughter Merrian (40) disappeared from Royal Caribbean’s Mercury during an Alaskan cruise in 2004. Six years later, her family are still searching for answers. But what happens when you find yourself the victim of a crime that has occurred in no country at all? I could always pick up the phone and get help, from the Orlando police department, la police nationale or our own gardaí. Truth can be stranger than fiction – and, when it comes to cruise-ship crime, at least as chilling as fiction. Cruise lines keep accurate manifests by requiring all passengers to swipe their assigned “cruise cards” every time they board or disembark; there is no record of Xing Lei Li ever having left the Magnifica with hers. “What’s a missing person minus a body? Belling remains under arrest in Rome, on suspicion of having killed his wife during the cruise. But know also that if you sail through international waters, you have, in effect, travelled to a country where there are no police. “Saw this and thought of you,” the email’s subject line read. But know also that if you sail through international waters, you have, in effect, travelled to a country where there are no police. Never a murder. The most common reaction to it is surprise that I didn’t make it all up, …

Local History: From Lough Derg to Omey, books inspired by the Irish landscape

The highlight of the social year, the races brought in large crowds; a big attraction was Peggy’s leg rock candy, at a bargain price of three for sixpence. A passion for it courses through his veins and comes across on the pages of Lough Derg and Its Islands (Holy Island Tours, €20), which he has written with Shane Creamer. The Tipperary historian George Cunningham selects a different kind of island, choosing Monaincha, from the Irish Móin na hInse – Bog Island – a hidden monastic site not far from his Roscrea home. Every island and rock has a story. His portraits bring out their authentic voice. .” Paul Clements is a contributor to Fodor’s Essential Ireland and the author of Wandering Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way Intriguing details are also revealed on the occupants of sporting lodges, grand summer residences and lakeside houses, some still in private hands. The town wall at Rindoon has undergone much-needed conservation, and the author makes a plea for a full archaeological investigation of the suite of medieval remains and for the buildings to be taken into State care as a national monument. In the far northwest of Connemara a single tidal island is the focus for Strands of Omey’s Story (Connemara Island Publications, €20), by Bernadette Conroy. Quinn intersperses the interviewees with his own travels, including a pilgrimage to Sceilg Mhichíl, where he climbs the steps to the monastic settlement. A glossy voyage of discovery by road and water, the book is packed with photographs, poetry, folklore and an invaluable 10-page colour map. Charting the history and nature of the lake, this is a parish-by-parish gazetteer that starts in Killaloe and travels north. Monaincha became well known as a place of pilgrimage, and along with Croagh Patrick, St Patrick’s Purgatory and Glendalough was one of the four most famous pilgrimage sites in Ireland. The Rindoon peninsula, of considerable strategic importance, is one of the most impressive Anglo-Norman sites in Ireland. Their survey ranges across archaeology, historic buildings and village landscapes. Just a few nautical miles south of Omey lie Inishbofin and Inishshark. Topographical features and hidden nooks are all given their due. For their size many of Ireland’s islands have more than the average small town’s supply of history, providing writers with endless inspiration. The island is famed for its summer horseracing, which started in 1933 and was revived in 2001, after a lapse of …

14 years on Dublin’s streets, the bird man of Westland Row

Martin lives in his own time zone.” And it is there Hart plans to stay, under Westland Row bridge, feeding the birds, he the fourth swan in a world where he is not lost but very much at home. “I could have, but I don’t,” Hart said. A Handful of Ashes by Rob McCarthy The Last Horseman by David Gilman Local History: From Lough Derg to Omey, books inspired by the Irish landscape “I couldn’t describe unhappiness to you” But Hart doesn’t seem unhappy. Life on the streets: Martin Hart under Westland Row bridge, where he has lived for four years, of his 14 years living on the streets of Dublin. Photograph: Donal Moloney Very slowly, as he gained trust in Moloney, Hart opened a window into his world, while Moloney opened the door into his, inviting Hart to Christmas dinner in his studio that year. For years Hart spoke of his desire to go to Lough Derravaragh, in Co Westmeath, given his fascination with the legend of the Children of Lir, about the four children turned into swans. Photograph: Donal Moloney When they visited the National Botanic Gardens, in Glasnevin, Moloney stood back and watched Hart’s expressions as he investigated his surroundings. He’ll rise at 10.30am, have a “bit of a wash” in a local church, pack his bags and go to Rathmines library, where he spends up to four hours a day. The predominant bleakness meant the project was beginning to lose its appeal. Photograph: Donal Moloney Hart has been on the streets for longer than most, but Moloney doubts that you could meet a more content man. Hart, viewers will find, is endlessly appreciative of the small things – which to him are not so small at all. The voiceover for the trailer begins, “I think we all have a very private room inside of us that nobody ever sees.” The voice, both strong and tinged with fragility, is Martin Hart’s. The streets of Dublin have been his home for 14 years. From Dallas, Texas, Hart moved to Ireland when he was eight. Snow makes me happy. Moloney has condensed the story of their friendship into a short documentary, entitled Martin, that will be in competition at Belfast Film Festival on April 2nd. “Your excellent sleeping bag kept me nice and cosy. He was lying in his sleeping bag under Westland Row bridge when Moloney first saw …

‘Cré na Cille’: do English versions hit the funny bone?

The Dirty Dust takes bold and scabrous hop-skips around the language in an attempt to provoke some of the disquieting impact that the roguery and vulgarity of the original would have had on postwar Irish readers. Cló Iar-Chonnacht and Yale University Press published Alan Titley’s version, The Dirty Dust, in 2015. Breadán Ó hÉithir called it far and away the funniest comic work in modern Irish – “Apart from Evelyn Waugh and Jaroslav Hašek no author makes me laugh as heartily and as regularly as Máirtín Ó Cadhain in Cré na Cille.” So perhaps comparisons with Myles na gCopaleen or Kevin Barry are more appropriate. Norwegians and Danes have been able to make up their minds since translations first appeared in their languages, in the 1990s, and soon readers in Germany, France and the Czech Republic will be able to do so in new local translations. Graveyard Clay is a direct, literary translation that attempts to convey as much of the original meaning and tone as possible. He went on to write that Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s 1949 novel was “not only an Irish but an international classic which deserves to be on the bookshelves of any educated reader”. Is it “a modern masterpiece that has remained locked away from non-Irish speakers for too long”, as John Banville says, or just a crude and bleak literary expression of Ó Cadhain’s bilious self-loathing and bitterness about the decay of Gaeltacht culture? It was as stiff as a male briar.” Cré na Cille: “Chaith mé smugairle amach. If you are still uncertain about which to read, start with Graveyard Clay for its authenticity, then try The Dirty Dust for its linguistic playfulness and puerile glee, and finally try using the knowledge and familiarity acquired from both to attempt reading passages of Cré na Cille itself, or at least to listen to RTÉ’s excellent audio version, at iti.ms/2n6gtFY. Ba chóra dhó a bheith ag déanamh a anama go mór.” The Dirty Dust: “I spat out a glob. But now is the moment for Béarlóirí to decide whether Cré na Cille is really “among the best books to come out of Ireland in the 20th century”, as Colm Tóibín claims. And so at last we find ourselves in a position to judge the merits of Cré na Cille. To gauge whether it might appeal to your comedic instinct, and, if so, which of the translations …

The RTÉ licence fee: when is ‘TV’ no longer a TV?

This is a fine idea. Before the Video Recordings Act of 1989 this allowed punters to see many horrid films previously banned in cinemas – Brief Encounter, Fantasia and so forth. The internet shook things up even further. In the case of television only one organisation was, for decades, allowed to provide content (as we then didn’t say) for this potentially destructive medium. A mere accident of technological history binds these media together under the televisual umbrella. Then cable and satellite came along. Or we could meter the service, like water. The dial didn’t do anything. The RTÉ funding structure dates from a time when television was seen to be only slightly less hazardous than cholera. The State loomed over broadcasters to ensure that no foreign input would poison weak-minded viewers. Places like Denmark and Norway extract significantly more from viewers than the €160 we are asked to keep the angelus on the air. Dee Forbes, the new director general of RTÉ, stomped straight into the ordure when she seemed to imply that the licence fee could reasonably be doubled. In theory the levy ensures that a significant corner of the broadcasting continuum is free from excessive commercial pressures. Many teenagers now view little else but YouTube videos. Is that TV? Defining what we now mean by television is a fiendishly difficult philosophical challenge. It’s the sort of thing you associate with dedicated bicycle lanes, sensible drug laws and transgender police officers. Loaf-faced newsreaders An Irish television in the 1960s and early 1970s was a peculiar device. Where does the line between cinema and television lie? Once again the concept of the licence fee was under consideration. The arrival of RTÉ 2, in 1978, changed things just a little, but the viewer was still subject to paternalistic care by a watchful State. Some signs of the current anarchy arrived with video, in the 1980s. In principle the fee is a good thing. This will inevitably lead to Manx poetry, atonal choral music and other stuff we only pretend to like. Yet the new work is not quite cinema. A TV is no longer a TV. There was, at that point, only one way of accessing such images. You had as much chance of causing Caribbean atolls to replace the damp Irish streets glimpsed through the window frame. How did that work out again? Unable to trust viewers to watch responsibly, …

Future Islands: ‘We’re just three disgusting dudes in a van’

We wrote that in William’s family’s hunting cabin far away from anywhere, in the middle of a forest. The ocean and water and nature have always been a big part of our music.” It’s the sound of the new record that resonates most with the band. The band spoke before about “the power of an honest performance”, and that sentiment remains strong. Seven songs in seven days was more or less what we set out to achieve. “It was like Song for Our Grandfathers. Future Islands play Dolan’s, Limerick on July 3rd; Opera House, Cork (July 4th); Black Box, Galway (July 5th) and Iveagh Gardens, Dublin (July 6th) Bootlegged by my dad: Future Islands on their biggest fans “We’re our moms’ favourite band,” says Samuel T Herring. Every time, we were in the process of learning how to do things which we’d bring in for the next record. We always write from a feeling.” What Herring remembers most about that week was looking out at the ocean and feeling a sense of place. My dad will pull up our songs on Spotify and play them right there.” “My dad tells me all the time about how he bootlegs my CD and gives it out to everyone,” says Herring. Future Islands are talking about transportation. Samuel T Herring of Future Islands performs Seasons (Waiting On You) on The Late Show With David Letterman: “We’re playing music which comes from a feeling we had, so it never feels dishonest to us to perform” Coast lines It was the North Carolina coast that provided the basis for the new record. Those words were written looking out at this old plot of family land and feeling the history of where we’re from and our ancestors. “Then we got a really solid van which used to belong to a dog-and-cat grooming company.” “We kept the decals on the side of the van,” adds Herring, “because people don’t think you have music gear in your van if you have a decal of a cartoon dog and cat running towards a heart with ‘Hugs & Kisses Grooming Palace’ written underneath. “I personally missed a lot of the weird, dirty rawness of the old recordings. We set up in a house and we wrote seven or eight instrumentals over a week. A memorable TV performance of Seasons (Waiting On You) on the Late Show With David Letterman brought …

‘The Gate attracts drifters. It’s about making it a beacon’

(She is likely to direct there herself, once she can balance the requirements of being the artistic director.) The Gate Lab, moreover, in the handsome new wing of the theatre, was pitched as a point of intersection between the theatre and the independent sector for developing work, but it has functioned more often as the Gate’s rehearsal venue. She is less inclined to attribute to chance the discoveries made in a play or the points along a career path, instead determining connections, if only in retrospect. She shifts her gaze through the window back up towards the Gate’s rooftop. You could argue that Cartmell, a director celebrated for her striking and darkly compelling stage visions, for reinvigorating classic texts and for working across disciplines, has been doing something similar for most of her career. But, with clear views in every direction, it was worth the effort. Mac Líammóir and Edwards developed a modernist European repertoire, a programme that could include Ibsen, Wilde, O’Neill, Chekhov, Strindberg and Shakespeare, and it won acclaim as a directors’ theatre. “It would be totally foolish of me to rip it all up, and start again, because that loyal Gate audience is as important to me as the new audiences that could potentially be coming into the Gate as well.” Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir, the Gate’s founders, with Brendan Behan in 1952. That is also what the new directors of the Abbey, Neil Murray and Graham McLaren, are instituting, a further indication that the nation’s major theatres now have more in common than a dusty joke. When Cartmell’s first programme is announced, on May 17th, it will hold details of productions into 2018 – and possibly beyond. “So there’s been a series of little connections for me, even prior to directing at the building in the first place, which I find interesting,” she says. “You have to shine a light into the corners.” The hotel where we meet, Cassidys, was once a haunt of Micheál Mac Líammóir and Hilton Edwards, the Gate’s founders and first artistic directors, where they devised early programmes for their new theatre in the Rotunda buildings. “I hope it will keep some of the great traditions of the Gate but offer a fresh twist on those stories. I hope they will feel it is a theatrical home for them to create their strongest work, their most inspired work; that it …

From the archive: Honorary doctorate of letters award for arts duo

If it was good enough for Samuel Beckett, for goodness’ sake, who are we to quibble? Arguably, honorary degrees have become a bit of a farce, with colleges no one has ever heard of tripping over themselves to dish out awards to celebrities we often wish we’d never heard of. Beckett accepted an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity in 1959, and turned down pretty much everything else thereafter – apart from the Nobel Prize. Both made towering contributions to the Irish arts world: Leonard with his plays, essays and a veritable shelf-load of television adaptations, Potter with her radio variety show and her annual turn in the Gaiety pantomime. Our photograph captures the pair stepping across Front Square. Probably. The playwright is following stage directions to the letter, walking the prescribed slow and solemn “I’m not bothered” academic walk, while behind him Potter mugs to the camera, robes flying, handbag swinging, every inch of her four-foot-eleven frame a swirl of delight. Would it be reading too much into the image to see it as illustrative of the two opposite approaches to academic honours: utterly sublime, or utterly ridiculous? Arminta Wallace Much to the amusement of the onlookers approaching from under the arch. T he ultimate accolade, or utterly ridiculous? So we’ll content ourselvs with pointing out that while the human rights activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel had 90 honorary degrees, Kermit the Frog has one too. On the other hand, you’d have to be a pretty hard case to object to the awarding of honorary doctorates of letters, in the spring of 1988, to the playwright and author Hugh Leonard and the actor and comedian Maureen Potter. Such, needless to say, is not the case when it comes to the estimable Trinity College, Dublin. Neither of the recipients in today’s photo would have put themselves into the Beckett bracket.

Poetry: The Square in Front of the Archangels

Mary Madec is the director of the Villanova Education Abroad Programme in Ireland. You tested your balance on the diagonals hopped on every odd number, criss-crossed your legs into the most restricted spaces, keeping your nerve when you were out of breath, holding out on those fractals of fate as you made your way, tippy-toe onto the smallest square you imagined in the centre. She won the Hennessy XO Prize in 2008 and subsequently published two collections with Salmon Poetry (In Other Words, 2010 and Demeter Does Not Remember, 2014). It started with hopscotch, a stone and squares, a way to pass the time waiting for your mother, you, convinced you could put everything into the neat categories they were once in, meticulously counting with your feet every square on the cobble without trespassing a line, without tripping into the tiny interstitial dykes. This is how you tested those inevitable consequences as dark descended on the quiet waters of the mall, the rooks about to startle from the Angelus bells and become black angels from hell rising victorious from the trees, distorting that square on which you landed into a dark rectangle into which your father fell while Michael, Raphael and Uriel were asleep.