The New York Times Spends “36 Hours in Dublin”

In this Sunday’s “Travel” section of the New York Times, the writers detail what to do with 36 hours in Ireland’s capital city.

The author really looked for things to do in Dublin, although I wouldn’t make the same choices if you only have 36 hours to spend. Some of the itinerary deserves praise: devoting time to learning real history of the country in places like Kilmainham Gaol and Glasnevin Cemetery are great ways to spend part of your day. Both of those historical locations offer tours with knowledgeable guides who can answer questions. This summer, when I took my husband to Glasnevin, our guide, Bridget, answered my question, “Where is Kitty O’Shea buried?” Her answer was more than the location of Charles Stewart Parnell’s mistress, and later his wife and widow. While she is frequently referred to as Kitty in historical literature, the tour guide told me that the famous woman preferred to be called Katherine. A good piece of information indeed!

Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. I took this photo about 10 years ago. It’s really beautiful, isn’t it?

If you enjoy literature and beautiful cathedrals, go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Jonathan Swift was once the dean, and where he is buried with his beloved Stella. Also, remember to read “A Modest Proposal” and “Gulliver’s Travels.” And if you like theatre, the Abbey Theatre is the national theatre of Ireland, and they do wonderful productions. Get ticket in advance.

I would have made different food choices. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I love the Rolling Donut stand on O’Connell Street (at the corner of Abbey Street), despite fancier donut options only a few streets away. Murphy’s Ice Cream is wonderful: brown bread ice cream with raspberry sorbet tastes like brown bread with jam and is divine and not too heavy. And, of course, there is a wonderful Italian restaurant in Dublin right off of Dawson Street called Carluccio’s – still the best focaccia bread I’ve ever had! (Around the corner is Ulysses Rare Books, a shop that specializes in first editions of Irish books. Bring a credit card if you want to buy anything…not cheap.) To be fair, I’m a vegetarian so a lot of traditional Irish pub fare isn’t my thing. You might take the recommendations of the New York Times if you want to eat fish and chips or any manner of dead animal.

Fashion. Here’s where I really disagree with the New York Times. If you want some hip fashion that you can’t get anywhere else, go to Om Diva, for the love of everything holy. This store has several floors of clothing by independent Irish designers. The offerings change constantly, but they do offer clothing by one of my favorite young designers, Orla Langan. And if you want more upscale clothing designed and made in Ireland, obviously you must go to the studio of Jennifer Rothwell. She’s my favorite designer, of any country, as I love her vibrant prints with colors that make you strut like a peacock (paycock?).

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A photo from Jennifer Rothwell’s “Magical Forest” collection. Photo from jenniferrothwell.com

If you have time, stop in to see what’s on at the Irish Film Institute, which has a decent restaurant and bar. The IFI runs a lot of independent Irish films, as well as classics and indie films from all over the world. I fondly remember seeing “Sing Street” at the IFI when I was living in Dublin a few years ago.

Still, I’m grateful that the paper of record didn’t recommend the Guinness Store House (terrible waste of time and money) or the Jameson Distillery (likewise). I don’t drink much whiskey, or much alcohol in general, but Teeling’s Whiskey is a better stop than either of these. Though personally, if you want some really good Irish whiskey at a reasonable price, pop your head into the Irish Whiskey Shop on Dawson Street and pick up a bottle of Writer’s Tears. This smooth, tasty “strong water” is produced by Walsh Whiskey down in Carlow, so strictly speaking you can’t to go the distillery if you’re spending 36 house in Dublin, but you can definitely buy it. It’s better than Teeling’s.

I think it’s worth getting outside of Dublin if you visit Ireland, and seeing the beautiful country. Maybe take a walk in mountains at Glendalough (Wicklow Mountains National Park), or see some of the scenery in Gougane Barra, Co. Cork, including the tiny stone houses carved into the hills in which monks once lived. Hike the Ring of Kerry, go up to Dingle, and of course the Cliffs of Moher are stunning. And don’t neglect the North: few sites in your life will be more impressive than the Giant’s Causeway–and you can even stop at Bushmill’s Distillery on your way there (or your way back), which is the best whiskey tour in Ireland. And have a pint at Kelly’s Cellars in Belfast city centre, which does a great pint of Guinness and a fantastic pickled egg.

Sexual Assault

This weekend’s Irish Times has a couple of stories that address sexual assault in Ireland. The most important one, by Conor Lally, presents some statistics:

“The number of sexual crimes reported to gardaí are the highest on record, the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) data shows….

However, security sources say it is impossible to determine whether more sex crimes are being committed or whether victims are more willing to come forward due to the impact of #MeToo and other campaigns.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he noted the pronounced increase in sexual offences and said the Government was committed to prventing [sic] and addressing such crimes.

“I very much welcome that more victims are coming forward to Garda, and I urge victims to continue to do so.”

I have much to praise here, and much to be wary about.

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Stories like this one serve a dual purpose:

(1) They attempt to make survivors–and I wish Charlie Flanagan would have said “survivors” instead of “victims”–comfortable reporting sexual assault to the gardaí. We want survivors to report crimes, but it remains difficult to prosecute and convict rapists. The article does not report the ratio of reported assaults to arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. Ireland, like most countries, has a pathetic history of not punishing men (it’s almost always men) who commit sex crimes.

(2) While the article points out that the increase in reported sexual assaults might not indicate an increase in the actual numbers, it fails to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults remain unreported. The SAVI Report demonstrated much higher levels of sex crimes than are disclosed. So, the article may serve to increase fear of rape, while not giving enough details about the crimes. I mention this because stories about increases in sexual assaults create a penumbra that haunts women as they walk through the world. This penumbra, the fear of rape that is stoked by these stories, acts as social control over women. If you are afraid to leave the house, or afraid to walk alone, or afraid to dress a certain way or go to a certain place, your life is limited by fear. The idea of rape controls the choices that many women make on a daily basis, and so short pieces like this one aren’t helpful.

In addition, to come back around to one of my least-favorite favorite topics, people like Gemma O’Doherty will deploy these statistics against immigrants and ethnic minorities and claim that the uptick in crime is linked with the increase in immigration. These are two trends that are completely unrelated, but many people cannot distinguish between correlation and causation. To put this in perspective, imagine that the number of reported rapes has increased in 2019, as has the number of cat adoptions from shelters. Do more pet cats create more rapists? Obviously an absurd notion, as is the notion that an increase in immigration causes an increase in sexual assault. But stay tuned for an update, because I fully expect Gemma and/or Justin Barrett to make such a claim.

Charlie Flanagan’s statement is at least a public acknowledgment of the sexual-assault epidemic. But we need to teach children–tweens and teens, not five-year-olds, to be clear–about consent, and the right of each partner for mutual enjoyment of sex. What does consent look like? What does enthusiastic consent look like? How can a person say no to sex? How can couples have sex safely? I think the new sex ed program will help, but it will take years to see if consent education leads to a reduction in rapes.

I hope that teaching people that women have a right to sexual pleasure, and that men do are not entitled to access to women’s bodies, society will move in a different direction.

 

Justin Barrett Hates Democracy

If you don’t believe me, believe him:

A screenshot from Justin Barrett’s personal Twitter.

Barrett’s language indicates anti-democratic, anti-pluralist tendencies:

Who is Barrett referring to when he says “ancestors”? Daniel O’Connell certainly fought for Ireland’s right to be counted in a representative democracy as he rallied the Irish people for Catholic emancipation. O’Connell fought for “civil rights, elections, a country run by peaceful parliamentary democracy rather than the gun.” Justin Barrett is attempting to shape the reality of history for his own ends. But O’Connell is a towering figure in Irish history, as he literally towers over the main thoroughfare on the north side of the Liffey.

Does O’Connell not count because he didn’t die for this cause? Are the only important Irish patriots the ones who employed violence? If so, this is a very telling aspect of Barrett’s outlook on politics. He is trying to impose his own version of reality on you.

Also problematic and anti-democratic is Barrett’s use of the pronoun “us.” He opposes democratic pluralism and immigration, so the “us” in his rhetoric refers to people he identifies as ethnically Irish, and who also support him. This is the volkish view of the nation. Excluding the majority of the people of Ireland from his definition of “us” is the type of radical populism that opposes traditional democratic politics that rely on political parties as their foundation. Indeed, for Barrett, parties do not matter–only his followers matter. For that reason, I refer to him as Ceannaire Barrett on Twitter.

And yet Barrett and the National Party, as well as O’Doherty’s Anti-Corruption Ireland and the Irish Freedom Party, are all contesting elections. Given his views on democracy, what does Barrett intend to do were his party to win an electoral majority? Given his fascist-type nationalism and his overt rebuke of democracy as a betrayal of the Irish Volk, as well as his opposition to traditional institutions such as political parties and a loyal opposition (you can hear that rhetoric in his speeches), we have a pretty darned good idea.

Mussolini also hated democracy. He thought democracy made states weak–which is part of why fascists fetishized the fit male body and national “virility.” In the words of Il Duce: “We have buried the putrid corpse of liberty!”

That is what the National Party and Gemma O’Doherty/ACI want: to subvert the will of the people, because the people of Ireland are not “the Irish people,” as Barrett explicitly stated in one of his speeches. The majority of Irish people oppose their agenda. They oppose racism. They oppose a reactionary Leave It to Beaver trip back to the 1950s. They voted for abortion rights and same-sex marriage. They support membership in the European Union.

Barrett, O’Doherty and their ilk cannot handle this reality and so they try to blame “fake news” or manipulation by Google for the current state of affairs, rather than acknowledging what the democratic institutions of Ireland have created through the will of the people. Barrett’s Volk supports his vision of Ireland: Catholic, ethnically Irish (whatever that means), and authoritarian.

Take the threat of Ceannaire Barrett seriously; do not laugh at him as ridiculous. He knows what he’s doing.

The Irish Potato Famine was NOT Genocide

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Lumper potatoes. Photo credit: National Geographic Magazine

 

The Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1849 was not a genocide, and almost all serious scholars of Irish history agree with this assertion.

The word genocide was coined by a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin in 1944 in his book “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.” The United Nations defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

The British government did not cause the blight that annihilated the potato crop in Ireland. Rather, the fungus, phytopthera infestans, arrived via the Americas and spread widely enough to devour the potato crop in part during the first years of the famine, and in full during the worst years including “Black ’47.”

Intent is the overgrown canary in the historical coal mine on the question of genocide. No one denies the estimated one million deaths from starvation and disease, or the one million (possibly as many as two million) Irish people who emigrated to Britain, the United States, and Australia. In the crime of genocide, the “mens rea,” or guilty mind, is an essential element; without intent, genocide cannot exist, regardless of the number of people who died or fled the country. So, how do history scholars address the problem of intent?

Historians who operated from a nationalistic standpoint, most famously Cecil Woodham-Smith in her best-seller The great hunger: Ireland 1845-1845, indeed maintained that the British committed genocide against the Irish. In a review of her book, A.J.P. Taylor (who was a scholar of Germany) wrote that the British government was responsible for the death of two million Irish people. And, of course, as a reader of the “Irish Echo” noted in a letter to the editor, John Mitchel himself believed that the Great Hunger was an artificial famine. These accounts emphasize the “forced export” of grain, the impact of laissez-faire economic policy, and the callousness of Charles Trevelyan, the reviled assistant secretary of Her Majesty’s Exchequer.

Still, while there is truth in these assertions, accusations of genocide cannot withstand deliberate scrutiny. As much as Irish patriots and other Gaelophiles may want to condemn the British for the tragedy, and while the government certainly could have enacted more policies to attenuate the impact of the potato blight, the underlying cause of the Great Hunger was an act of god, not an act of humans. Accusations of genocide are based in animosity toward the former (and current, depending on perspective) colonial power, and not historical fact.

Two long-term positive developments in Ireland contributed to the severity of the Famine. The population of Ireland skyrocketed in the preceding 75 years, at least in part due to the abundance of the potato crop. Although twenty-first-century Americans may not consider the potato to be particularly nutritious—probably because of its abundance in deep fryers—the lumper potatoes that Irish peasants cultivated in the early 1800s provided sufficient nutrients to sustain them. Indeed, a hard-working Irishman commonly consumed as much as fourteen pounds of potatoes per day on the eve of the hunger. The potato regimen, combined with a sprinkling of milk and meat, supported a population boom. Unfortunately, these same factors intensified the destructive power of P. infestans when it arrived in Ireland, most likely in 1844.

Her Majesty’s government aggravated the impact of the potato blight, but that fact in itself doesn’t constitute genocide. In his authoritative account The Great Irish Potato Famine, historian James S. Donnelly Jr. lays out the actions of the British government as “sins of omission” and “sins of commission.” Donnelly acknowledges that Trevelyan’s failure to prohibit the export of grain certainly exacerbated the Famine, although he also notes that Irish middling and large farmers were largely in charge of exports—not the British. Accusations of genocide leveled against Trevelyan carry emotional weight because he held racist views of the Irish, and he interpreted the Famine as divine punishment for a sinful people. Plus, merciless Irish landlords (some would say English landlords) evicted tenant farmers, forcing families of paupers to beg along Ireland’s roads, a situation that would have worsened the dual problems of hunger and disease.

And yet, while the British didn’t provide enough relief—for whatever reason—the governments of Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell did take measures to help the starving people. Peel famously repealed the Corn Laws in order to allow imports of grain. The government later established soup kitchens, which were probably the most effective means of alleviating starvation. Unfortunately, the government ended this program in late 1847. Public-works programs provided jobs for the poor, though they didn’t pay quite enough. Also, Irish grain exports were greatly reduced during the Famine years, even if they weren’t stopped altogether. Moreover, as Donnelly demonstrates, imports of grain from North America actually exceeded exports of grain from Ireland in the years after 1846, sometimes “by a factor of almost three to one.”

So, yes, the British government took some actions and failed to take other measures that aggravated the Famine in Ireland. But, Westminster did not cause the potato blight, and parliament did take steps to help alleviate suffering, ineffective though these measures may have been. Therefore, the Potato Famine does not fit the definition of genocide laid out by the United Nations. While the millions of people Ireland lost to death and emigration should certainly be considered a major tragedy, comparisons with the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust are not appropriate or useful. Instead, students of Irish history might learn more by comparing the Great Hunger with other famines such as the Persian famine of 1917-1918, widely considered the deadliest famine in history, in which millions of Iranians died, and for which many people also blame the British government.

ACI & 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

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I was going to dedicate this post to discussing a recent livestream in which Gemma O’Doherty and Fr. Gerry Young discussed sex education and Islam. But, I’ll save that for another time; possibly for a piece for another website. [Admit it: you’re dying to know what an octogenarian priest thinks about sex ed.]

Here I want to deal with Gemma’s conspiracy-mongering in relation to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The peddling of conspiracies about 9/11 has numerous detrimental impacts, none of which affect Gemma. Most tangibly, these theories are hurtful to the people who lost loved ones, and others–myself included–who were in lower Manhattan on 9/11 (though I was not, myself, in the Twin Towers). Indeed, she benefits from pushing these theories because they make her the hero in her own narrative. Here’s how:

Ever notice the political agenda of the people who spew conspiracy theories? It used to be wacky left-wingers who, back in the 1960s, were skeptical of authority and government in large part because the FBI really was monitoring the activities of groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (Dr. King’s group); the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, or “Snick”); the Black Panthers; and even Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Abbie Hoffman famously warned hippies (or his “Yippies”) against trusting anyone over the age of 30. We all grow up, though, and so did the Yippies. Most of them are today regular middle-class liberals. They’ve grown out of their conspiracy-mongering.

Today, conspiracy theories are largely pushed by the AltShite/far right/racist right–because they have lost power recently and they’re trying to reclaim it, often successfully (see also: Trump, Orbán, Erdogan, Duterte). Chief among these nonsense ideas is that minority groups are going to “replace” white people in places including the United States and, in the case of the ideas pushed by Gemma O’Doherty, in Ireland. Such notions are not only preposterous, but come with racist overtones…and sometimes overt racism, as when the Fucktards who marched in Charlottesville declared “Jews will not replace us” or when O’Doherty opposes “multiculturalism” by posting videos of brown people doing bad things, while simultaneously claiming not to be racist. Sure.

AltShite politicians and activists have a lot to gain by selling nonsense to the public. The peddling of these conspiracy theories, and citing right-wing wackos as the “only people” with the “courage” to tell the “truth” about events, discredits the legitimate media; they thereby position themselves as the only “honest” people in a world full of sell-outs to the establishment (which, of course, they hate). Thus, conspiracy theories related to such a monstrous event that towers over the first decades of the 21st century, are nothing more than a political tool. The AltShite use these ideas to compel people to think they cannot trust legitimate sources. Vulnerable people will thereby turn to bullshit sources for their “truth,” and further endanger society by taking up the causes of other conspiracies. Here are a few resources for you to cite when you run into one of her devoted followers.

    • Anti-vaccination movement. Gemma says, for example, that the HPV vaccine actually causes cervical cancer, and she thinks vaccines cause autism. The quack doctor who publicized that bullshit has lost his medical license.
    • The climate-change “hoax.” Climate change is not a hoax; it is not a conspiracy to stir fear and panic. Rather, it is a man-made problem that we should be scared of–at least if we plan to be alive for the next 50 years.
    • Muslim immigrants are coming to your country to “invade” and “take over” and establish Sharia law. Do we really need to debunk this crap? Islam is not incompatible with “Western values.” In fact, I think most Westerners would become better people if they were to observe Ramadan.
    • Sex education will “corrupt” young minds. FALSE. Basically every study ever has shown that lack of information about sex does NOT stop teenagers (or younger) from having sex; it stops them from having sex safely. On top of which, information about types of sex and types of contraception will increase people’s pleasure in sex, especially women’s pleasure. Teenagers should know what enthusiastic consent looks like; they should know that sex isn’t just about a man’s ejaculation, but should be mutually enjoyable for both (or all) partners involved.
    • There have “always been” two sexes and nothing more. Not only does this conspiracy push objectively false information, it also fosters bigotry against trans and non-binary people. The latter is a goal of the far right because such people typically don’t support the right, and also because oppression is a tool by which the right-wing seek to gain and maintain power. [If you want to read about the one-sex model that preceded the two-sex model, read this book by Thomas Laqueur.]
    • 5G service will give everyone cancer. Quoting Gemma O’Doherty: “one in one people” will have cancer. That’s literally everyone. Need I deal with this in any detail? Clearly, 5G service will not give everyone cancer. Not even smoking cigarettes gives everyone cancer, and cigarettes contain dozens of known carcinogens.

I’m focusing on Gemma O’Doherty’s peddling of 9/11 conspiracy theories here because it’s particularly insidious. This is an event about which nearly everyone above the age of, say, 15 is sure of the basic details: on 9/11/2001, terrorists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, hijacked airplanes and flew them into iconic American landmarks including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Thousands of people died, and first responders are still suffering from health effects of their work on that day.

These events are burned into our brains by history books and television. I personally have a viv memory of the cover of the Newark Star Ledger (which my parents subscribe to, for some reason) on 9/12/2001. It’s the only time that I can remember a single story taking up the entire front page of the paper: TERROR BEYOND BELIEF.

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By taking small clips of film and separating individual pieces of evidence from the whole, the AltShite has been able to shape a narrative about 9/11 that vulnerable people can lap up. This is a common tool of people who like to fancy themselves historical “revisionists,” like the so-called Center for Historical Review, which is actually a bullshit antisemitic organization that traffics in Holocaust denial.

If you look at the evidence cited by James Corbett, who seems to be Gemma O’Doherty’s primary source (I use the term loosely), you’ll see these tactics in full bloom. He first aims to discredit Henry Kissinger, who led the 9/11 Commission. I’m no fan of Kissinger, who I believe has committed war crimes in the past, but he’s not a stupid man. They throw shade on why it took George W. Bush over 400 days to appoint a commission in the first place–a detail that has literally nothing to do with the Commission’s findings, but the AltShite wants you to think there was some sort of dubious reason for waiting “so long.”

Corbett also throw shade on the weapons used by the hijackers and the allegedly frail man (bin Laden) who directed the attacks. I’m not sure what bin Laden’s physical health has to do with anything, but there you are. Corbett says that the pilots of these commercial aircraft had military training (for what? to fight off the hijackers? bullshit). He also suggests that the US military should have shot down the planes after finding out that they had been hijacked. Oooh, why didn’t the military shoot down 4 American passenger planes? SUCH A FUCKING SCANDAL. He questions the ability of the hijackers to fly the planes as effectively as they did. What is he getting at with this line of thinking? That the hijackers weren’t who we think they were? If they weren’t, who were they instead? Stupid.

Further, according to Corbett, how did people know who the guilty parties were in such a short span of time? The implication of this question is that either (1) the Bush administration was in on the attacks, or (2) that the government knew about it in advance through intelligence gathering and purposely failed to thwart the attacks. While I think we can admit that there was a failure of the intelligence system here, this conspiracy is absurd. Perhaps, the government just knew that bin Laden had been literally targeting the United States for years.

I could go on, but you get the point. By manipulating information, right-wing conspiracy theorists have used a tragic event to build their own following from under-informed people, for their own ends. Suddenly, you start to doubt the events of 9/11, and if those facts could actually be false, how else might the “establishment” and mainstream media be swindling you? Gemma O’Doherty ran for president of Ireland, and garnered a pitiful number of votes (10,622 according to her own Twitter page). But, her outrageous deployment of conspiracies and Islamophobia has certainly won her more followers who, like Trump’s supporters, believe that she is merely willing to give voice to ideas that other Irish people are too cowardly to say out loud. As I write this, she has about 32,200 followers on Twitter, and based on the responses to her tweets, most of those people think she speaks truth.

Gemma is certainly not the only right-wing politician to deputize conspiracy theories in order to gain a following and push an agenda that opposes the “evils” of abortion; LGBTQ+ rights; immigration; “ideology” of Islam; public-health measures; and secular culture (among other things). Indeed, right-wing activists and politicians around the world rely on this tactic–designed to discredit the media and force people to question the existence of objective truth–in order to gain power.

Don’t let them succeed. Oppose the rise of Anti-Corruption Ireland and the Irish National Party.

Irish Tattooing

I love good tattoos. There’s nothing quite like being able to walk around every day wearing a beautiful piece of artwork on your body. I also have a couple of quotations as tattoos, to remind me to keep trying when life gets hard, and never to stop standing up for myself and for what is right. In two weeks, Anil Gupta, who is one of the best tattoo artists in the world, will be doing a tattoo on my left forearm to commemorate my wedding–I love my husband that much. I’m really lucky to live in the same city as Anil; people come from all over the world to be tattooed by him.

A good tattoo is worth the money; a bad tattoo is….worth less than what you paid for it. So, with that in mind, here’s my reviews of the best Irish tattoo artists. I’ve divided my list into two categories: (1) Best tattoo artists in Ireland; and (2) Best artists of Celtic tattoo work.

Full disclosure: I don’t personally care for traditional tattoo work, so none of the people I’m listing here specialize in that type of tattoo. I generally don’t think that type of art is particularly impressive (sorry), and there are tons of people who do it well, so you won’t be lacking if you just walk in to most tattoo studios in Ireland or anywhere else.

Best Artists in Ireland

Most of the best artists are obviously located in Dublin, which is Ireland’s capital city and its largest; with the amount of residents and the population of tourists who come through each year, the best artists want to be in the heart of the island. Still, there are a couple of great artists outside of Dublin, who I’ll mention, too.

  1. If you want something dark–in theme and in color–Antone Masri at the Ink Factory in Dublin does some really fucking awesome pieces. I’m not into horror, so they’re not my thing, but if I wanted something scary or occult on my body, he would be my guy. I particularly like his tattoo of the Terminator.
  2. Also at Dublin’s Ink Factory is Keith Murphy, whose art is quite obviously influenced by graphic novels. If you like colorful pieces that look like they could have come straight out of a comic book, check him out.
  3. One more from the Ink Factory….for black and grey tattoos, Leo Black is one of the best I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot). His portraits are incredibly lifelike, and I also think it’s worth mentioning that when he adds a bit of color, the effect is impactful.
  4. For large pieces, both black/grey and in color, Georgiana at Reinkarnated does fabulous work. She does portraits, celestial images, horror, animals, and everything in between. I’ve never met her, but I’d really like to–I’m sure she has a dazzlingly creative mind. I’m not a huge Bowie fan (sorry, I know it’s a personal failing), but I know people who love him will adore the Bowie tattoo on her page.
  5. One of the best artists outside of Dublin is Louise Flynn, at High Society Tattoo in Kilkenny. I love her work because her pieces look like ethereal watercolor paintings. I particularly recommend Louise if you want something nature-y like a hummingbird or some delicate flowers. She doesn’t outline her watercolor tattoos in black, which makes them (1) more difficult to pull off, and (2) so delicate that they look like you were born with them on your skin. Louise is very popular, so don’t expect to walk in and have her tattoo you–you must book in advance.

If you’re in Northern Ireland, Sam Barry at Belfast Tattoo Collective does some great work. He uses vivid colors that bring diverse types of pieces–horror, geometric/abstract, portrait–to life. [To be honest, I’m not a fan of the work of the other two artists here, though; stick with Sam.] And finally, Belfast Skin Works has a several very talented artists who can tattoo in a wide variety of styles. Their website doesn’t list them separately, though, so I can’t give you a breakdown. It’s worth checking out their shop, though–if you can find the artist you like best, you can make an appointment and get something fabulous.

And if you are looking for a tattoo artist to create a piece that involves traditional Celtic designs (knots, crosses, etc), you might check out:

  1. You really can’t beat the work of Sean Parry at Sacred Knot Tattoo in Llandudno, Wales, who does Celtic and Nordic work. His large pieces, including sleeves, are particularly impressive. If I decide to get another Celtic tattoo, it will definitely be worth the trip out there. In fact, Sean’s work is so fabulous that I could really stop here. He’s the best, and I’ve seen a lot–a LOT–of Celtic tattooing.
  2. Anil Gupta at Inkline Studios in New York City. Anil is great at everything. But if you’re going to travel, seriously, just go see Sean Parry.
  3. Krystof at Bluenote Tattoo in Las Vegas is also worth mentioning. Like Anil, I’d say Krystof is good at many styles. He’s worth a trip. If I didn’t despise Las Vegas, I’d make the journey myself. But I really, really hate Las Vegas.

 

**Sorry for the lack of photos here. I don’t want to violate anyone’s copyrights by using their images here. That’s why I’ve provided links. Check them out.