Gabriel McArdle. Photo by Dónal O'Connor.

ADAMS: One Hundred Days of Hell

Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the west Bank passed the one hundred day mark at the weekend. By the time this column is published the number of dead at the hands of Israel’s war machine is likely to have passed 25,000, mostly women and children. That’s almost equivalent to the entire population of Newry wiped out.

At the same time, almost two million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced. That is comparable to the population of the North forced from their homes while every hospital, school, university and most homes is destroyed. Oxfam has concluded that the daily death toll of civilians in Gaza is greater than any other major conflict in the last quarter of a century.

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At the weekend, and across the world, in more than 120 cities - including Belfast, Cork and Dublin - millions gathered in a global day of action to demand a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli genocide. The protests also criticized the military strikes by the British and U.S. governments on Yemen.

Last week, the South African government led the international demand for peace by taking the Israeli state to the International Court of Justice at the Hague. More than fifty countries are supporting the South African initiative. To its shame, the Irish government, which supported a similar case being taken against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, has refused to join with South Africa.

Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh.

Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh.

South African lawyers presented an irresistible case against Israeli genocide. One of its team of lawyers, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh KC, gave the closing statement. She told how Israel’s actions had coined a new and horrifying label "WCNSFs – Wounded Child No Surviving Family."

Ní Ghrálaigh’s concluding remarks summarized the savagery of Israeli actions. She  said: “On average 247 Palestinians are being killed and are at risk of being killed each day … They include 48 mothers each day, two every hour and over 117 children each day, leaving UNICEF to call Israel’s actions a war on children… The risk of famine will increase each day… Each day over 10 Palestinian children will have one or both legs amputated, many without anaesthetic… Each day ambulances, hospitals and medics will continue to be attacked and killed… Entire multigenerational families will be obliterated.”

South African lawyers presented an irresistible case against Israeli genocide. One of its team of lawyers, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh KC, gave the closing statement. She told how Israel’s actions had coined a new and horrifying label "WCNSFs – Wounded Child No Surviving Family."

The International Court of Justice could take years to reach a final judgement. However, it can make an emergency order against Israel’s continuing killing and destruction in the Gaza Strip. That could take just weeks. Consequently, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh concluded by calling on the court to “indicate the provisional measures that are so urgently required to prevent further irreparable harm to the Palestinian people in Gaza, whose hopes — including for their very survival — are now vested in the Court.”

Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald was in London last Saturday where she addressed several hundred thousand protestors. She praised the South African initiative and called for an end to the slaughter. She said: “We won’t stay quiet about Israel’s apartheid. We won’t be silenced in the face of genocide – a genocide that is broadcast every day for nearly one hundred days now…”  For 100 days she said the mothers and fathers of Gaza have “wept an ocean of tears over the still bodies of their dead children.”  

Mary Lou said: “The world stands at a crossroads and there is a choice to be made. We now demand human rights, justice, and the rule of law for Palestine, for Gaza, for the West Bank.”


This week, the tickets became available for a major public event on Irish Unity to be held in New York on March 1. Billed as an "Irish Unity Summit," the event is jointly sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Brehon Law Society, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Friends of Sinn Féin USA, Irish American Unity Conference, James Connolly Labor Coalition, and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians.

The "Summit" will be held in The Great Hall at Cooper Union. It will start at 1 p.m. on Friday 1st March and conclude at 6 p.m. There will be keynote speakers, panel discussions, and cultural performances.

So far the program will include Professor Brendan O’Leary (University of Pennsylvania) in conversation with Meghan Stack (New York Times). Also speaking will be Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald TD; Niall Murphy (Human Rights Lawyer and Ireland’s Future Board Member); Glenn Bradley (Former British Soldier, former Ulster Unionist Party Officer, and member of Veterans for Peace); Ola Majekodunmi (born in Lagos, Nigeria, Radio Presenter, Irish Language Activist and member of Foras na Gaeilge);  Sophie Colgan (Director of Navigating New York, dedicated to connecting individuals and businesses in the Irish diaspora in NYC) and Professor Christine Kinealy (Irish historian, author, and founding director of Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University).

The program will also include contributions from the presidents of the sponsoring bodies and bipartisan U.S. political leaders. There will be live music and spoken word contributions and performances between speakers and panel discussions. If you are interested in Irish Unity and live in the New York area I would urge you to save the date and join the discussion on Irish Unity. I have no doubt it will be a great event.


Dónal O'Connor and his family have made a long standing and continuing contribution to Irish traditional music and song. Dónal is a well known and respected musician, broadcaster and producer. We are all indebted to and enriched by the work of the O'Connor and Ní Uallacháin clanns. Because of them and others like them the traditional music scene is alive and well. Many songs and tunes which might have been lost have been retained or recovered.

This is especially the case in Ulster. The song tradition is particularly strong here. Renowned singers and collectors like Len Graham, Paddy Tunney, Sarah Makem, Eddie Keenan, Pádraigín Ní Uallachaín, Grainne Holland, Davy Hammond, Albert Fry, Prionsais MacAirt, Seán McCorry and musicans like Davy Maguire, Neal Martin, Sean Maguire, John Sherry, Cathal Hayden, the Diamonds, the Vallelys, the Sands and McPeake families and many many more have ensured that our indigenous  music is a part of every day life for many people. A living tradition.

Every part of Ulster has lively circles of singers, musicians, dancers and story tellers. These are  the custodians  of our music. But they are also teachers, whether formally through Comhaltas or Singing and Music Clubs, or informally in sessions across all parts of the North. Many of them learned their songs from parents or grandparents and from the generations before them. And they are passing it on to the next generation. 

Number Gabriel McArdle among them. Gabriel, from Kinawley in  Fermanagh, is a singer and a concertina and accordion player. Dónal O Connor has produced an album - "Gabriel McArdle The Fermanagh Blackbird" - which showcases Gabriel's talents. It is a fine uplifting record of traditional songs and tunes which capture Gabriel's great traditional singing style and music playing. It is also his first solo album, though hopefully not his last. 

Gabriel’s singing is exquisite. Clear, melodic and true to his dialect.  Sweet and easy on the ear. "Érin Grá Mo Chroi" is a gem of a song. So is "Johnny and Molly." In fact there is not a bad song in this collection. 

The instrumentals are equally good. Many perhaps suited to, and drawn from, the dance music of Ulster. I was particularly taken by "I Buried My Wife And Danced On Her Grave," and "The March Of The Clann Maguire." So well done to all involved with this fine album. Particularly Gabriel McArdle. It has been on the go for a year now so thank you An tAthair Seos for my copy. It has given me hours of pleasure.  

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