Sunday, November 10, 2013

Plastic Cups are an Instrument? Watch - Amhrán na gCupán in Irish

Fun video of Irish school children performing the Cup Song (Amhrán na gCupán) using simple plastic cups and the floor and singing the original song "Cups (You're Gonna Miss Me)" translated into the Irish language (also referred to as Gaelic):

Cups (You're Gonna Miss me) in Irish (Gaelic)

So you say, "What are all those Irish words?"

That can be found at: Amhrán na gCupán

I'm still a beginner at Irish, but I think I see some differences between the Irish translation and the English version.

The Irish title (Amhrán na gCupán) looks like it would be translated "Song of Cup" in English. Said another way, "Cup Song". The Irish is more descriptive by saying the work is a song but the English title probably assumes the context of using the title would show it's a song.

The fourth line of the first verse is, "mbeidh tú liom?" which is short for, "you will be with me?" Kinda different from, "what'dya say?" I like how they both are contractions, are informal, and the meanings come very close.

The end of the fourth line of the second verse ends with "mo aoibh" which means "my smile." That doesn't match the end of that line in the English version, which says "my hair."

But keep looking and you'll see the end of the next and fifth line of that verse ends with "'chuile thaobh" which means "all sides." That's pretty close to the word "everywhere" which ends that line in the English version.

You wonder why go to that trouble to use different words?

With the Irish line endings, the lines rhyme. They both end with sounds that rhyme with the English word "eve." I am thinking the line about "all sides" is the idiom for "everywhere" in that sense, and then the translators needed a rhyming word for the previous line.

Pretty clever, eh?

A change for apparently similar reasons is made at the fourth and fifth lines of the last verse:

... ag caint   which translates as, "talking," and,
... ag seinnt   which translates as, "playing," as in music or a musical instrument.

These compare to these line endings:

... my walk
... my talk

in English.

Am I suggesting you or anyone be upset about this?

No.  Translating in general is tough because you just can't change each and every word to a translated word and have the meaning work.  And in a song, especially one with a staccato rhythm, fitting the translation into the beat is extremely tough.

I am at the point I expect all translations of songs to be different than in the original language.

In this case, I like the Irish version and I think it preserves the sense of the English version very well.

So, if you haven't already, go to the Irish version, click play, and enjoy!

Cups (You're Gonna Miss me) in Irish (Gaelic)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

LiDAR Finds New Passage Mound

A passage tomb was found in an important area with related passage tombs.

In a first for Ireland, the newly discovered passage tomb was found without digging, using a technique known as LiDAR.

LiDAR uses laser light to reflect or backscatter from the surface of the earth. Using the extremely precise measurements of distance, very high resolution, detailed images can be created. The name LiDAR comes from combining the words "light" and "radar." The images look to me as if the sun were setting at just the right angle to light the bumps and ripples of the earth from the side.

Passage tombs are large mounds with stone covered straight passageways which are aligned with celestial events such as the sunrise on one of the solstices. Many have ping etched large stones with fascinating designs or white rocks whose source is many miles away. The exact function of these mounds is a mystery, but they required a tremendous investment of time by a large number of people when Ireland was occupied by hunter-gatherer people fairly sparsely dispersed.

This new site is being cited as evidence that the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site is a larger complex. This makes the proposed bypass on the N2 road even more controversial.

Impact of New Discovery on N2 Bypass

Newly Discovered Passage Tomb at Newgrange

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Vincent Salafia: Cultural Heritage to Constitutional Protection of Heritage

In the last blog entry, Vincent had just described some of the positive aspects of the campaigns over preservation of heritage.

Question: Will cultural tourism catch on?

I think there will be more cultural tourism rather than straight economic tourism. I do see a lot of potential now in the people who have been turned on abroad and those here at home as well. I think the local population up in Meath realizes more now that they do have something of value that they didn’t fully appreciate before. I was talking to someone who loves fairies, like Tinkerbell. There is a Florida Fairy Festival every year. So I was thinking, why don’t they have a Fairy Festival on the Hill of Tara every year?  It would bring large crowds. People would have fun outside. People would bring their kids. I think you will see more utilization of these sites and the sites will come to life.

Question: Is changing the Constitution feasible in Ireland?

As to the Constitution, there is a Constitutional Convention set up to review the constitution. When the present government officials were running for office, their parties, Labor and Fine Gael came in and said there was going to be a Constitutional Convention. That process is beginning. The terms of reference are quite narrow and many are cynical about it. But none the less, there is a period over the next year to raise issues. There should be constitutional protections put in place to protect heritage and the environment, and for our culture, really.

People abroad have the right to have these things protected as part of their own culture. This would not just protect Irish citizens, but all people of Irish decent. That’s why it’s important for those of Irish decent to express those opinions, especially during the coming year.  I’ll try to get clear ideas and explanation up on the Internet and into print so that people can demand their constitutional and human rights.

“We the undersigned were outraged about what happened at Tara and what was proposed at Slane without due consideration. We want to be sure as Irish people that this is never going to happen again. Let’s put the necessary protections into the constitution, once and for all.”

Maybe a petition like that could happen in the coming months.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Vincent Salafia: Benefits of Archaeology to Achievements

In the prior blog entry, Vincent had just described how the lure of money and employment had turned many archaeologists against heritage preservation.

Question: Can the public be educated and turned on to what the benefits of studying archaeology are?

I think the public have been turned on. There have been various surveys performed by the Heritage Council over the years starting back around 2000. Every year there was public concern for protection of heritage and protection of the environment. It wasn’t that the public didn’t care so much. It was more that the authorities didn’t care so much because they were so hell bent on perpetuating this model of modernism, economic development, and real estate.  They saw that as their meal ticket. It wasn’t the public that was the problem. It was the government. One can say the people were electing the government, but they were electing them for different reasons than cultural heritage. Ultimately, the public bought into the economic thing as well.

Now that we are in the post crisis mode here, there is a realization by both the government and the public that we should be taking better care of our tourist attractions. Again there is this idea we could get some money out of these sites. This idea of “the Gathering” now, which was launched by the government on January 1st of this year to bring all the Irish home, if you will. There are some cynical views of this as well. An American actor came out and said this is a big joke. You are just fleecing these people. All you want is a few quid out of them after ignoring them for years. Thousands of Irish people died on the streets in London and nothing was done. Even when Irish people did come back to Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years, those people weren’t eligible for social services. They were told you are not an Irish resident, or an EU resident. They were told they were not eligible to student grants or unemployment.  You really weren’t welcome at all. That’s all changing and the Irish authorities are anxious to get any Irish American or any Irish Australian to come back.

There is a different view over here, but I’m still a bit cynical about it. The first economic cuts (in the Great Recession) were in the area of environment and heritage. A lot of the cultural centers and historical centers have shut down.

I suppose on the bright side, not just the government sponsored destruction of heritage, the private sector was doing a lot of damage too. At least, that’s all come to a halt if you will. The impact to the atmosphere leading to climate change has been reduced.  There are some positives. Unfortunately, traffic on the M3 is way, way down and we’re having to pay the investors, this Spanish company, now direct payments. Millions and millions of euros are being paid to keep the M3 going.

One of the real positive things that came out of this, even though it’s been a tough haul, has been to meet people like you and many others. I met great people along the way. I didn’t do any of this alone. It was inspiring to see the international support that we got from all around the world, in particular the US. Lots of people said this is just wrong. So many people were willing to do something about it. That made it a success. Even though the M3 went ahead where it shouldn’t have, and it was heart breaking to see it go ahead, ultimately you have to say to yourself that campaigning is to make an issue out of something, to put it into the public mind, and to give the public an opportunity to express their opinions about it. Clearly, the public had been ignored up until then. We showed quite clearly that the majority of people were against the selected route. We can rest and say we did our best.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Vincent Salafia: Sustainable Development to Archaeologists

In the prior blog entry, Vincent had just explained his PhD thesis will put forward the concept that sustainable development should be constitutionalized here in Ireland.

Question: What would sustainable development accomplish?

There would be a constitutional implementation of social rights, economic rights, and environmental rights. Hopefully, that constitutional equation would prevent these types of things from happening again.

You and I had worked on the economic issues having to do with the toll roads on the M3 (I had contributed some economic analyses which showed the questions the government should have asked about the deal before it was struck). Maybe in hind sight the economic issues were a lot more important than people realized in the course of the campaigning where everybody was so focused on the heritage end of things that the economic issues didn’t lend themselves so easily to protesting and people getting excited. There were no grounds to go in and make economic complaints back then. People need to be given their economic rights to say that public money needs to be spent in a rational way.

I am trying to pull everything together that I’ve been involved in over the last ten years or so. It is really a formula and I am trying to get it into a few articles or a book.

Question: Is there a recognition among politicians and other decision makers that the economics of a road should be a factor? Should the government shoulder all the risk? Ireland is paying foreign investors for a road, the M3, that is underutilized.

On the M3, they didn’t tell the public if it was going to be a toll road. They said it could be a toll road. They got the contract in the public/private partnership to build the road. However, one of the complaints was made that the traffic numbers didn’t add up, they didn’t justify this road in the first place. With all these motorways going north, it was pretty clear that was correct. They realized it would be a looser for any company getting involved, and they wouldn’t be able to charge enough tolls to make it pay for itself. So what the government did without telling anyone was they went out to the EU and got special permission from the European Commission to allow them to sign a shadow tolling clause into the contract. Normally they wouldn’t be able to do that, because it would be seen as impermissible state aid under the European Union economic rules.

They were given permission to do this in the instance of the M3. Also the Liber Tunnel was the only other road they got permission to do this. They said this road was so necessary there was no alternative to building this road. They said they probably wouldn’t need the tolls anyway because things were growing at such a rapid rate here in Ireland, there would be enough traffic to support the road. They created the impression this shadow toll clause would never be used.

No sooner had they signed that contract than things started to fall apart in the economic realm. Now it’s seen to be one of the worst economic decisions ever. Going all the way back to 2000, the roads program in Ireland was supposed to cost 5 billion euros. We can’t get an exact figure from the government as to how much the roads cost, but we figure they have cost somewhere in the region of 30 to 35 billion. So you see how much money disappeared into the ether.  Now we can see a lot of these roads weren’t necessary at all.

It’s gone from one extreme to the other. Back then, they were building roads everywhere, and now, there is no road building at all. There isn’t much sense in asking the present government what they think of building roads, they haven’t had much opportunity to think about that. Of course, with the troika breathing down their necks, they are not going to be making any radical decisions. The biggest decision was seen to be the withdrawal of the 500 million from the northern end of the M2/A5 road, the Dublin to Derry road. It’s going to be a while before they propose to build new roads. They don’t really need many.  Even though they were supposed to get these new roads done by 2005, they did manage to get most of them by 2008 or 2009.

That is really the end of road building for the time being, and ironically, that also is the end of a lot of archaeology jobs as well.

People want to point a finger at what happened over here. Certainly the archaeologists deserve their share of the blame. They weren’t all bad, of course. The guy at Carrickmines, Dr. Mark Clinton was good. We did have some archaeologists working for us behind the scenes, but for the most part they were willing to go and dig up anything. It could have been Cú Chulainn’s tomb. In fact they would have been dying to get in there.  There was just no stopping those guys. Ethics appeared to go out the window. I’m not sure how sorry I am to see a lot of them out of work now.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vincent Salafia: Teaching to Making Sustainable Development Constitutional

In the last blog entry, Vincent had just begun explaining how he started teaching at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Question: How did things go after you taught that first class?

Then they offered me a second class in planning and risk assessment, which is a bit more specific and more into the area of impact assessment. I was nervous teaching my first class up there, never having teaching experience. It was at the end of this first class I was teaching that this Slane Bypass issue sprang up. I was able to use the issue as a class project which showed how these things work in the real world. It worked out really well in both directions. Some of the students got involved in some of the campaign issues and certainly some of their research and work came in handy. I think they enjoyed having the opportunity to deal with some real world issues. I sort of carried on that tradition. The north-south connection and the larger issues to do with the road made it an ideal topic to deal with because, when I first went up to Queens University, of the 30 students, 15 would have been from the south and 15 would have been from the north. It was a good coming together type of issue.  Although the southern end of that road has come to a grinding halt as a result of the An Bord Planela decision, and the south also withdrew the 500 million euro commitment to building the northern end, the northern authorities have pushed ahead with the A5 upgrade up there. A group of local residents I’ve had into my class at Queens called the A5 Alternative Alliance just went into court before Christmas 2012 and initiated judicial review with the high court for the planning approval of the A5 up there.  Everybody is waiting to see what will happen to that up there with the north.

Question: What is your next act?

During the course of all this, I had to ask myself some of the bigger questions such as why am I doing all this stuff? What does it all mean? What is the bigger picture here?

During the course of my studies along with campaigning, I learned more about this concept of sustainable development and how it fits in with indigenous rights and indigenous culture, which are obviously Brehon law concepts, and how it fits in with environmental protection and heritage protection. I also learned to look at where does economics come into this?

Sustainable development is a way that ties it all together in a positive way.

During these earlier campaigns, we were operating in this property bubble and development frenzy that ended up collapsing here in Ireland, quite dramatically, and showing we had been the absolute definition of unsustainable development here in Ireland.
What I’ve done in terms of academia is I enrolled in a PhD program in Trinity College. I enrolled about three years ago and I’m working on it right now. I got a bit distracted but I’m back on the case. I’ve come up with a theory. My thesis will be that sustainable development should be constitutionalized here in Ireland.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Vincent Salafia: Victory on Slane Bypass, Then Teaching

In the last blog entry, Vincent had just described how the court asked for more information on from the NRA and the Meath County Council.

Question:What decision did the court reach:

Of course months later, which was last year, the decision came down that the planning authorities had refused permission for the Slane bypass. 

That was nice end to the whole odyssey, having had such heartbreaking, I suppose, defeats at both Carrickmines and at Tara, along the way.

Question: Did the recession help with the decision?

You would have to wonder. From a legal perspective, it shouldn’t have had any effect on the planning authorities’ decision because economic issues usually are outside the planning concerns. However, the main issue they determined was that the authorities had not looked at all of the alternatives. One of the alternatives that had been proposed, and indeed was promised to be delivered, was a ban on HGVs in the village. Funding had been taken away from the bypass because of economic issues and they were going to put in this HGV ban because the locals had been calling for 20 years for either a bypass or a HGV ban. In 2007, 2008 when things were already getting bad economically, Fine Fail announced that they were going to go ahead with the bypass and the locals were delighted. Then six months or a year later, the NRA announced that they didn’t have the money. The government said they would do the HGV ban. Minister Noel Dempsey, the local TD, who was also the Minister for Transport promised they would put in this HGV ban. But they didn’t do that and then after the visit by the Taoiseach, all of a sudden there was funding for the bypass. So this went back and forth. At the end of the day no effort was made.

What actually happened was the County Council came out with this outrageous report saying an HGV ban actually couldn’t be implemented in the village. They said they would be sued if they put it in there and that it would be impossible to implement. They even said it would affect international trade. This was all brought up in the course of the hearing. I think the planning authorities saw what was going on there, that this was public money being used not only to get votes, but even the design was so grandiose. Engineers who worked on the National Development Plan saying this is gold plated infrastructure and it should be a much further scaled down version.

The decision came back they hadn’t looked enough at alternatives. There was obviously a route to the west. The economic issues probably played a part but I think An Bord Plenala saw how they had been taken for a ride by the Council and the engineers at Brú na Bóinne. The same thing had happened at Tara. I think they saw that at Tara and they realized at both situations that they hadn’t been given all the information. They hadn’t been apprised of the full information on heritage. The proposers had assumed the authorities didn’t care. I think by the time of the Slane bypass they wanted to make up for past bad decisions, as well.

Question: Where does your teaching tie in to your development?

This is my fourth year teaching at Queens University at Belfast. Just before the Slane bypass issue appeared, I had received an email from the Irish law list, one of their usual emails, and it mentioned that Queens University was looking for someone to teach a class in environmental legislation. Because I’d been in a tough situation in Ireland where my Juris Doctorate degree from the United States is not recognized here in Ireland, I haven’t been able to go into the Four Courts and get registered as a barrister. I realized my best chance here was to take the academic route. To be honest, I was never anxious to be a litigator my whole life and I liked the idea of more of an academic approach to things. So I was delighted when I saw this opportunity because I figured this was something I would be fully qualified for. There aren’t a lot of openings for environmental law here in Ireland. I went up for the interview at the Management School at Queens. They hired me pretty much on the spot which was great.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vincent Salafia: Brú na Bóinne Achieves Progress

In the prior blog post, Vincent had just gotten to the point of explaining the need for a safer road in Slane.

Question: Why did they want to build this road around Slane though? Aren’t there other high capacity roads nearby?

They had built the M1 motorway as part of this huge, grand motorway scheme that was introduced in Ireland by the National Development Plan back in 2000. Unfortunately, in hindsight, when I took a look at that scheme, there had been huge damage done to the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site. They hadn’t even included the Brú na Bóinne site in the Environmental Statement, even though a motorway was planned to actually go through the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site. There wasn’t awareness back then in the communities and in society of the idea of protecting heritage. There were no protest groups.

This M2 is the third major motorway going out of Dublin and was on the other side of the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site from the M1.

What was happening in Slane was there were tolls on that M1 motorway, so a lot of the big lorries were avoiding the tolls by going back onto the old road. There were counted to be 1,400 HGVs , they call them Heavy Good Vehicles in Ireland, a day going down through the village of Slane. Bad accidents were happening and it was a dangerous place. I think everyone was in agreement that something had to be done. It was unfortunate though to have the design affecting the World Heritage Site. But you have to remember these were the same engineers and the same County Council who built the other motorway on the other side of Slane and who built the M3 motorway affecting Tara. We were all very familiar with each other.  The same experts, the same archaeologists for the NRA (National Roads Agency), even going back to Carrickmines, we were all old soldiers at this stage.

There was huge support for the bypass in Slane. We had sympathy at the Hill of Tara with local community groups. This time, I was public enemy number one in Slane.  There was a silent minority of people who were concerned about the World Heritage Group, but everyone in Slane was scared to raise their head in Slane to make that point. They all knew they would be crucified. 

It was a different type of a campaign in Slane which was more legally based with people participating in the public process. The beauty of it was, unlike Carrickmines where the public process had already ended at the point where we went into court, and unlike at Tara where a lot of the public campaigners there hadn’t had a chance to participate, at Slane we were in early. We got a lot of good arguments in and used a lot of the ammunition that we’d built up over the years particularly with UNESCO, who had met with us over the Tara issue, when they were over looking at an incinerator proposal which was also close to the Brú na Bóinne site. 

We got very good submissions in. It looked very good when the authorities came back after a couple of months and asked for more information to be submitted by the NRA and the Meath County Council. They indicated they didn’t feel there was enough information submitted about the archaeological information or consideration of alternatives. That was the first good sign that things were going well for us there.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Interview of Vincent Salafia: Hill of Tara to Brú na Bóinne

In the prior blog post, Vincent had brought the story to the Hill of Tara and how a wooden henge called Lismullin had seemed to be significant enough to at least delay the construction of the M3 road. Would the European Union act to protect such an important heritage site?

Question: What happened with the complaints to the European Union?

What happened was the legal process here required the Minister to make a decision to approve for the demolition of the Lismullin site. The EU wrote to Ireland saying they believed this decision was in breach of EU law, that the discovery of the site should have triggered a new environmental impact assessment and that work should cease. However, the Irish authorities ignored the European Union and went ahead and destroyed the site. The European Union didn’t feel strongly enough about it at the time to go into court and seek an injunction to stop it. No intervener here succeeded in getting before a court to stop it. Nothing stopped it.  Sadly, the EU did actually succeed in its legal challenge to the authorization given by Dick Roche, the Minister for the Environment, but it was too late to do any good. His decision to order the bulldozing of Lismullin was found to be in breach of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive by the European Court of Justice.

The M3 road opened in 2008.

It wasn’t too long after that the proposal to build the Slane bypass came up.

I read in the paper in 2009 there was an advertisement in the paper which included a map showing where they were going to upgrade the road from Dublin to Derry. The M3 motorway was replacing the N3 road up to Derry. Approximately seven miles to the east was the N2 road which they were going to make the M2 motorway.  There were going to be all these motorways going north out of Dublin. When I saw the ad in the paper, I was horrified for a number of reasons:

a.    It was way too close to Newgrange and the Brú na Bóinne World Heritage Site.
b.    Also I was horrified of the prospect of a third major campaign which caused me to say to myself, “I can’t do any more of this.”

I waited over Christmas and coming into the New Year. I waited to see if An Taise, locals, or anyone would kick up to get a campaign going.  The period for public consultation was rapidly coming to an end.  With two weeks to go, basically, nobody had said diddly. After I had built up a lot of Facebook contacts and email contacts, I decided to launch a campaign off the back of that.

I started a Facebook group called Save Newgrange and sent out a lot of invitations. Within a week we had over 10,000 members on our Facebook group. We had a lot of petition signatures and a lot of submissions got made before the deadline. That was the objective – in the space of that two weeks, to get a lot of objections in and we succeeded.

There were public hearings that were held once the deadline was closed. That particular situation was similar but very different in a lot of ways to the other campaigns.  In Slane, which is a village very near Newgrange, the overall N2 road that was being upgraded was part of this much larger project to connect Dublin with Donegal and build the longest motorway in Irish history. The motorway would pass up through Slane and up to the border where it would meet up with the A5 road up there. Indeed the Irish government (in the Republic of Ireland in the south of Ireland) had committed 500 million euros to the A5 (in Northern Ireland).

This was done under the North-South Peace Agreement, the Good Friday agreement as a way of building better connections between the North and the South. This was another sacred cow for both governments, North and South. Of course, this had been conceived without any Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which has a broader take than an EIA, which only looks at projects. An SEA looks at plans and indeed policies, sometimes.

While I was doing this campaigning, I had gone back to university here in Ireland. I’d done a Master’s in law, in European law, so I had some training in Environmental Impact Assessment and SEA. That came in very handy in the Slane situation.

The situation in Slane was unique. I had been up in Slane to see the Rolling Stones when I was about 13 years old. From that and other visits, I knew the village very well. It’s got this very old rickety stone bridge that crosses the river Boyne. The existing road, I’d be the first to admit is a very dangerous road.


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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Interview of Vincent Salafia: Carrickmines Castle Campaign to Hill of Tara Campaign

In the prior blog post, Vincent Salafia had recounted how he came to live in Ireland. He had just got to the point of telling how he became involved with those trying to preserve the Carrickmine Castle and that he and his supporters won a Supreme Court injunction which held up further construction of the road.

Question: I know the injunction didn’t hold in the long run. What happened?

     That injunction lasted for about a year. Those trying to continue building the road came along with a different legal assault and won a second injunction. Then the government changed the whole national monuments act which included a special provision to put the motorway through the Carrickmines Castle site. A third Supreme Court case was taken, arguing that provision in the act was unconstitutional. There is a constitutional responsibility on the part of government to protect heritage.  In fact, it was established that there was such a constitutional imperative for the first time in Irish history and in fact for the first time in world history that this constitutional imperative did exist. It was said the constitutional imperative did not apply in this particular instance for some technical reason.

     Just around the time that was all coming to a head, we had been hearing about this proposal to build a similar motorway up on the Hill of Tara. I had gotten involved in a couple of disputes with this organization known as An Taisce. Generally a good organization, but the person in charge, him and I had some disputes. They wanted to take over all the legal action and I held it should be carried out by the group that had put the case together.

     To cut a long story short, I said I’m going to head up to Tara, and start up a campaign there. You guys can finish off Carrickmines.

     I went up to Tara in 2003. There had been various local groups who had been participating in the public process where an environmental impact assessment was done.  There was the Meath Archaeological Historical Society, the Meath Road Action Group, various local resident groups. We started having meetings. The Columban Fathers have a big training institution there, right in view of the Hill of Tara. We started having meetings there in the big old buildings. I used to travel up every week at these meetings.

     The residents were reluctant to take a law suit. After about a year of putting on different events and not being able to persuade the politicians to change their mind, I left the group then and went on my own to the High Court to seek an injunction to stop them from doing the test trenching for the motorway.  The judicial review was of the ministers’ decision to grant permission for the test trenching. The archaeological experts had already discovered a huge number of archaeological sites along the pathway of the motorway and a lot of different archaeologists and historians had protested, saying a lot of these sites should be left in situ, rather than being excavated and being preserved by record.

     What happened then, ironically was my case got held up while they awaited the Supreme Court judgment on Carrickmines case determining the constitutionality of the  National Monuments Act. It became a long drawn out process. This went on for years really. In approximately 2004/2005 I went to court. It was 2007 before the case came before full hearing. I lost in the High Court. A really nasty decision, it was. I really got abused by the judge and it was really disheartening because he was clearly quite biased against stopping the motorway proposal.

     My appeal was trending toward the Supreme Court, when An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, came along. My case had really gotten messed up. The judge had tied it up so tightly in knots, I think it was impossible to win in the Supreme Court. At that point, it was an effort to hold them off as long as possible until something else happened. An Taisce came along and said they’d take the case forward if I agreed to drop mine. I did so, however this gave the authorities the opportunity to sign the contract with the construction company. An Taisce waited too long to go into court so there was a window there for the authorities to get the contract signed and get work underway. There was no injunction in place.  When An Taisce did get into court, they were run out within a day or two and that legal process was all over.

     There were movements in Europe to stop aspects of the construction.   When they started excavating for the road, this new site called Lismullin popped up. It was a previously undetected, unrecorded site which was a huge wooden henge (A henge is a group of standing columns found to be arranged according to the local astronomical events. Stone Henge in England is probably one of the most famous henge). We had experts fly in from the US. Dr. Ron Hicks from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, was our main protagonist. He helped us do a petition to the world monument fund to place Lismullin on the hundred most endangered sites in the world. We were successful in that and Archaeological magazine came along and said Lismullin was one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in the year 2007.

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Previous Post: Interview of Vincent Salafia: Family History Up to Carrickmines Castle Campaign

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interview of Vincent Salafia: Family History Up to Carrickmines Castle Campaign

How can Ireland balance its growth and improvement with the need to preserve its heritage and its environment?

Vincent Salafia has been in the forefront of several important instances in Irleand where many argue there was an imbalance toward growth without proper consideration of heritage and the environment. As we will see in the following interview, Vincent was uniquely equipped by his background in the US and Irish cultures, with his knowledge of the legal heritage, millennia old, in Ireland, and by his own personal commitment to see things done right.

But before we go to the significant instances that have drawn worldwide interest, let’s hear about how Vincent came to live in Ireland.

Question: What is your history with Ireland?

     Brief family history: Our family has had a long tradition of emigrating and returning to Ireland. Starting with my grandmother in the mid-nineteen twenties, she left Ireland.  She was one of ten children. One of the McGees from the Longford area. Her brother was supposed to go to America, but got pleurisy after playing Gaelic football. So the ticket was given to her and she came into the lower east side of Manhattan at 16 years old. She had a tough time working in sweat. She married an Italian-American called James Salafia. They had four children there in the States. She always wanted to return to Ireland. They did pretty well over in the US. He was an electrical engineer and built houses, army bases, and other structures in New Jersey. She moved back to Ireland in 1957, and bought up some property in Wicklow. My mom was put into school and my uncle, who had done a year in Georgetown, was here. There was my mother and her three siblings. Three of them went to university here.

     My mother, when she was in the town of Arklow, she met my father who was an O’Toole. The O’Tooles had this farm across the way. They got married and I came along. They didn’t seem to get along too well, so she ended up going over to England to study to be a nurse. I was raised by my grandmother on the farm down in Wicklow.

     After being raised and going through boarding school, I graduated in 1983. By then my mother had moved back to the States. She was living in upstate New York working as a nurse. She was in the Finger Lakes district, Hammondsport, New York, which is gorgeous country. I visited there a few times. She got married again and they bought a motel in Florida.

     When I headed over in 1983, I landed in Florida. I did a year in High School there to kind of integrate a few areas and sort myself out. I went to Saint Leo College, a small Catholic College, which is about an hour north of Tampa. I had a lovely time there. Studied pre-law political science and also worked as a DJ part time. I took a year off before graduating, went to Pittsburgh, worked as a DJ, came back and graduated.

     Then I went to work in the family business for a while. Then I went up to New York and worked in some law firms to see if that was what I wanted to do. Entertainment law was what I wanted to do.  I went to law school in Fort Lauderdale in 1993 and graduated there in 1996.

     I worked for a while in Florida.

     I got married and moved up to the Indiana area, Carmel, outside Indianapolis. That went well for a while and then not so well. Around 1999 I decided I’d leave America. I’d always wanted to get back to Ireland. Seeing that certain things had come to an end, it would be nice to get a fresh start. I hadn’t seen a whole lot of my grandmother while living in the States, so I’d decided I’d see a lot more of her on this side of the Atlantic. I came back.

Question: When did you return to Ireland?

     The year 2000 is when I started to settle back in. Almost immediately upon my return, I started working on this project called the Brehon Law Project, which I’d started in Florida (Ireland’s own indigenous system of law dating from Celtic times, which survived until the 17th century is known as the Brehon law. Written down in the 7th century AD for the first time, Brehon law was administered by Brehons (or brithem) who served more as arbitrators.) I”d had an amateur type interest in the early Irish legal system. I’d done a paper in an art, literature, and law class. The Internet was just getting started then, so I made up a web site and got in touch with various professors who were working on translating the Brehon laws. I started to put on a series of symposia where I gathered together a lot of different scholars and judges. I did that three years in a row and focused on various aspects of early Irish law.

     During that process I got to know more and more people in Dublin and was fitting back in. I was interested in the O’Toole history as well and part of the reason for studying Brehon law was the tie in with my own family history.  The O’Tooles had been chieftains of Leinster. They had been great warriors against the British in their day. There was the history of Saint Lawrence O’Toole who was the patron saint of Dublin. I studied his involvement going all the way back to the Northern invasion. Strongbow, when he came over, married Aoife of Leinster. She was the daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster and Mor O’Toole. The marriage was performed by Saint Lawrence O’Toole.

Question: So you really liked that history?

     This history fascinated me. I read in the paper there was a Norman castle, known as Carrickmines Castle, outside of Dublin, being attacked by a motorway proposal for the ring road around Dublin. The Castle had been blown up in 1642, so there wasn’t a whole lot of it left, but the huge defenses around the Castle were being excavated in preparation for the motorway to go through. The motorway had been built up to either side of the Castle by the time these protests broke out. It was the tail end of the excavation. The archaeologists were being rushed out of the site. They were furiously objecting, saying they’d made these important discoveries, the site should be a national landmark, and it shouldn’t be destroyed.

     A bunch of us went in and occupied the castle site. We were called the Carrickminders. I got together a legal team and we proceeded to the High Court (In the Republic of Ireland the highest court is the Supreme Court. The court just below that for civil cases is the High Court). We lost in the High Court but won in the Supreme Court obtaining an injunction which held up the road to the dismay of the Taoiseach and many others (The Taoiseach (pronounced approximately TEE-shock) is the equivalent of a prime minister in the Republic of Ireland).

Next Post: Interview of Vincent Salafia: Carrickmines Castle Campaign to Hill of Tara Campaign

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rhino Heads Stolen

From the Weird News Department: Rhino Heads Stolen From An Irish Museum

Sometimes the global economy has unusual consequences.

Masked men stole four Rhino heads from a storeroom of the Ireland National Museum in Swords, north of Dublin. The masked men tied up a security guard who later freed himself and reported the theft.

The century old horns had been placed in guarded security after a spate of such thefts across Europe in recent years.

Powdered rhino horn is sold at high prices in China and southeast Asia because it is alleged to be an aphrodisiac and to cure cancer. Scientists have found no such properties, which isn't surprising given the horns' content. Rhino horns are made of keratin which is the same major ingredient in skin, hair, nails, claws, and hooves. The fibrous structural proteins in all these items are similar and there is no reason for the proteins to have medicinal or specific interactive value with cellular biochemicals.

However, because of the persistent perception of their medicinal value half a world away from Ireland, the eight horns are suspected by the guardi (police) to have a value of up to $650,000.

Investigators wonder if the heist was conducted by an organized crime gang with links to the County Limerick town of Rathkeale. This group is suspected to have conducted the thefts across Europe.

Obviously this theft has deprived museum visitors of the opportunity to see in person the heads of these powerful beasts to gain an appreciation for their unique size and body form.

Rhinos have been hunted across Asia and Africa near to or into extinction. One of the stolen heads was of the extinct white rhinoceros from Sudan in North Africa.

At least the stolen rhino heads were from animals long dead.

And the thieves may have an issue in that the eight horns (two per head) were coated with arsenic a century ago as a preservative and arsenic has well known poisonous properties.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tommy Sands and Family Appearing at 8th Step Coffee House

There are a lot of performers in the world and I can't keep up.

When I started checking into this performer, I was surprised. Surprised I never heard of him. Surprised by who recommends him. Surprised at how he dedicates his life.

His name is Tommy Sands.

For the impatient: He will be appearing on:

  • Sunday, March 10, 2013 @ 7 PM
  • 8th Step Coffee House @ Proctors Theatre, 432 State Street, Schenectady, New York 12304
Who recommends him?

Since I live in the Hudson Valley and have tremendous respect for the man, I'll start with: Pete Seeger.

Pete Seeger has said,"Tommy Sands has achieved that difficult but wonderful balance between knowing and loving the traditions of his home and being concerned with the future of the whole world."

I write poetry myself, so I was intrigued to read Seamus Heany has said of Tommy Sands, "You feel you can trust the singer as well as the song. His voice is at ease, it is not drawing attention to itself and yet, for that very reason it demands attention naturally." For those who may not know, Seamus Heany is Ireland's Nobel winning poet.

Tommy Sands is much more than a singer-songwriter. 

In 1986 in Belfast, which was during the Troubles, Tommy Sands organized a "Citizen's Assembly" which included many of the North's top artists and literary figures. 

Then in 1998, politicians were starting to hammer out the language that would later culminate in the Belfast Agreement or Good Friday Peace Accords, a major road map of compromise and concession which would lead to relative peace.

Getting wind of the gist, the media ballyhooed snags in the negotiations.

Tommy Sands could see this could lead to the undoing of the agreement.

He gathered a group of schoolchildren, half from the Catholic Republican side and half from the Protestant Loyalist side. Sands, the children, and some loud Lambeg drummers walked to Parliament singing the peace song Carry On.

A group of politicians met them on the steps of Parliament and the politicians were teary eyed.

Seamus Mallon who became Deputy First Minister in the Assembly that same year said the event was a “defining moment in the peace process.”

On top of all this, the man's music is well known and so moving.

His song, "There Were Roses" is bone crushing sad.

The song has been covered by many artists and many would say has entered the Pantheon of Irish songs.

So, yes, I recommend you go to hear Tommy, Fionan, his son, and other family members on:

  • Sunday, March 10, 2013 @ 7 PM
  • 8th Step Coffee House @ Proctors Theatre, 432 State Street, Schenectady, New York 12304
There will also be a reception where you can hear Tommy speak his special stories before the concert. Ask when you are buying tickets how to attend that.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tips and Tales from an Irish Genealogist

   Finding records of ancestors in Ireland is difficult. Fire and other means is suspected of destroying the vital statistics records stored in Dublin. Read more about the destruction of Irish Census Records here. Also, many Irish were tenant farmers whose lives left little in the way of a paper trail.

   Donna Vaughn has over 40 years of experience in genealogy and will share her valuable tips including websites and other avenues to help people trace their Irish roots.

Date: March 2, 2013
Time: 2:00 to 3:30 PM
Place: St. Agnes Cemetery Newly Renovated Map Room
             48 Cemetery Avenue, Menands, New York

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED as seating is limited.

Contact:  Email:
                 Phone: 518-463-0134 ext. 110

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Irish Golden Age in the Catskills

Interview with Kevin Ferguson at Catskill Irish Arts Week 2011:
Kevin Ferguson is producing and directing an independent documentary film about the Irish Catskills. Its title: ‘Dancing at the Crossroads: The Musical Birth and Near-Death of the Irish Catskills.’. In this first part of the interview, we learn about the Irish in the Catskills and Kevin’s experiences growing up in the middle of living history:

Coming to the Catskills since childhood, how did you become familiar with the Irish tradition in the Catskills?

My parents met here in 1955. My mother came over from County Cavan in 1950. The address on the manifest of the ship she came over on said she was bound for Mullan’s Mountain Spring Farm, which is now called the Blackthorne. That address was put on there because her sister Marie Mullan and her husband, Ed Mullan, also from County Cavan, bought what was a German boarding house run by a Mrs. Peters. They bought it in 1946 and opened in 1947 as Mullan’s Mountain Spring Farm.

They were not the first ones up here. The Irish had been coming up since the late 1800s, but it was really in the 1930s when it began to take the shape as an Irish enclave. They settled in Leeds, South Cairo, Oak Hill, and East Durham.

The Shamrock House, the Weldon House, the Fern Cliff, O’Neil’s Cozy Corner, later known as the O’Neill House or ‘O’Neill’s in the Woods – and which is now a religious retreat house, were already there. So, too, was the Haypress, later known as O’Neill’s Tavern and now called The Saloon. Most of them were opened up by Irish people who had been successful in opening up bars, dancehalls, and boarding houses in New York City, usually in the Bronx or in the Rockaways in Queens.

The Rockaways had become ghettoized into ethnic areas. There were Jewish bungalows, the Italian bungalows, and the Irish bungalows. By the time the 1960s came along, they knocked down many of the bungalows and put up high-rise buildings. That accelerated them up to East Durham for vacation experiences. Although the Irish had been coming there for decades, the Catskills hit their heydays in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. There’re still a few places in the Rockaways, like the Irish Circle, and in the Catskills, like the Shamrock House, Blackthorne, Gavin’s, and the Irish Center over in Leeds. And both areas have strong Irish communities, but they are not like they were, of course.

Were they doing Irish set dancing or American popular music?

In the Catskills, as well as in New York, they were doing both. They would play music somewhat dependent on the decade. The people who came were mostly Irish immigrants, and some Irish-Americans. That ratio shifted as time went on. Some places played the traditional Irish dance music on one floor and more American stuff on the next. They even had signs that said, “Irish Music,” “Irish-American Music,” or “American Music.”

After a while they began to blend them a bit.

I was just talking to Felix Dolan this afternoon and Felix was, and is, a great keyboard player. He had played the dance halls back in the day. He was telling me what they’d play. There was always “A Stack of Barley,” and there might be a “Siege of Ennis.”

The Irish who were coming over in the 50s started liking what they called “Irish country music.” There would be some country music with some Irish favorites, like a quick step or some waltzes.

Depending on the demographic, they’d shift it to get more popular music in. There would always be an orchestra, which might be three people or might be eight people. There would be someone who could play the waltzes, foxtrots, and other ballroom pieces. There would be others who could play the Irish as well. The dance halls in New York were crucial to what became the explosion of Irish culture, because they were crucial to assimilation and also to matchmaking. If you ask any person over the age of sixty who is Irish and living in America now, chances are they met their spouse at some place like the Jaeger House. Time and time again, they talk about how they met them there. Immigrants would come and someone on the bandstand would say, “Okay, we have new people here from County Cork. Anyone who wants to meet them, come over here.” They would match them up. If their parents were here, they’d encourage them to go to these dances, so they’d meet a nice Irish girl or boy.

It became this social dancing, which we don’t have so much anymore. We have set dancing and ceili dancing, which is well organized and not as spontaneous as it was back then.

That social scene was a huge thing up in the Catskills, as well.

You’d have Ralph Kelly who was a carpenter and an accordion player from Albany. He opened Kelly’s Brookside Inn sometime in the 50s. He built the dance floors at the Shamrock House, at McKenna’s Irish House, and the Tower View. Those were all built by the Kellys.

Dancing was massively important and is still going on.

Unfortunately, outside of the Catskill Irish Arts Week and some other special events, there isn't a lot of it.
The culture is surviving in the set dancing and step dancing, but it doesn't emphasize so much exploration as it used to.

What was it like for you growing up? Were you running around behind the scenes?

It was fabulous here. It was as busy here as it is now during Catskill Irish Arts Week but every day of the whole summer, say from July 1st to Labor Day. Places were packed. You’d walk around at night completely untethered from your parents, but you were safe because all the parents knew each other. It was one big community and everybody watched out for each other. You could walk around without any fear of harm and that was great. I loved it because my aunt and uncle owned what is now the Blackthorn. We thought we were royalty; whether anyone else thought so or not, we thought we were royalty. We’d get together and sneak in the back ways. Of course, we also had to work from the time we could walk.
At five or six, you were out collecting bottles, doing other small tasks. When I was a teenager, I worked up here six days a week. Six days, eighty dollars a week in the mid-70s. But we were teenagers and we enjoyed getting away from our parents.

The music was the center of everything. As the pubs served as a meeting ground elsewhere, the bars up here did, too. It was very common to be in the pub at 10 o’clock at night when you were 8 years old sitting around a table with people of all ages. You’d hear traditional music. By the late 60s and the 70s, there would start to get the show bands in. In the 70s, I heard more Neil Diamond, such as Sweet Caroline. A typical night in the mid-70s here, you’d go and you’d hear the Mason’s Apron play Sweet Caroline, the Stack of Barley, the Siege of Ennis, some soft rock, with lots of waltzes interspersed.

We danced them all, even if we couldn't dance. I couldn't dance. You looked forward to dancing the Siege of Ennis because you’d be pushed around because you didn't know which way to go or if you were like me and had two left feet. But you’d get out there and they’d shove you to the next part. 

It was a wonderful time to be here between the music, the dancing, the community, and the community meals.


Next blog: What happened to the Irish culture in the Catskills after the peak?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Part 3: Northern Irish Scientist Works to Prove Higgs Boson Exists

Steve Myers was born in West Belfast, Northern Ireland and was taught mathematics and physics by priests, one of whom was the younger brother of the Cardinal of Ireland.

He more or less stumbled into electrical engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. He and four other friends were applying to the University. Only one of them had an idea of what to study. That young man’s father was an engineer who said electrical engineering was a profession under demand. All five of the young men, including Steve, put electrical engineering on the top of their applications.

This was a fortuitous choice for Steve as he eventually received a PhD from Queen’s University in Belfast.

He had another brush with synchronicity when his invitation to CERN was delayed by a long postal strike until the day before he was due in Geneva. He rushed to the interview and while waiting to be invited before the interviewers, he picked up a paper lying on the waiting room table. He noticed the term and concept of the "head tail instability" which has to do with electrons hitting the walls of the particle accelerator causing more electrons to leave the wall, creating an electron cloud that reduces the quality of the beam. Unknown to Steve at the time, this was a prime concern of his interviewers.

The resulting job, which he started in 1972, was Engineer-in-Charge of the operation of the Intersecting Storage Rings Collider (ISR). In 1979 he started working on the Large Electron–Positron Collider (LEP) which was the most ambitious collider to be built in its day. The design, approval, and construction took 10 years. A 27 km tunnel was excavated about 100 m underground with four large underground expansions of the cavern to house the detectors.

In the 1990s, he was chosen to be the Deputy Leader of the SPS (Super Proton Synchrotron)-LEP (SL) Division in charge of preparing the LEP Collider for physics. From 1996 until 2000, he was Project Leader of the LEP upgrade (LEP2). In 2000 Myers became Leader of the SPS-LHC (Large Hadron Collider)(SL) Division and in 2003 he rose to be Head of the Accelerator and Beams (AB) Department.

In 2009, he was appointed to be in charge of all the accelerator and technology activities at CERN as Director of Accelerators and Technology. Thus, he is in charge of the organization that has produced these groundbreaking results while it simultaneously uses all its colliders and develops new projects.

Through all these changes and challenges within the organizational hierarchy, he has stayed intimately familiar with how to coax the particles successfully around all the rings at CERN. Not bad for a young man from West Belfast who barely knew what electrical engineering was when he launched onto that career path.


If you want to learn more about West Belfast and the efforts to achieve peace, click here.

Did you miss earlier posts in this series? Click here to go to the first post.
                                                                 Click here to go to the second post.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Part 2: Northern Irish Scientist Works to Prove Higgs Boson Exists

In the last blog post, I discussed how Steve Myers is a physicist from Northern Ireland who is part of the team which is accumulating evidence of the Higgs boson. Then we found out some things about elementary particles that are smaller than electrons, protons, and neutrons, those old standbys of the particle world.

At the end, I said we ought to look at why we should care about finding the Higgs boson and while we are at it, see if the technologies on Star Trek are really possible.

As to why we should try to find the Higgs boson, let's look at the contributions of looking at small particles and elementary forces have produced in the past.

For instance, when radio waves were discovered, one of their discoverers thought they had no useful purpose. Now of course we have cell phones, microwave ovens, broadcast receptive radios and TVs, weather radar, wireless computing, and radar enabled speed traps! Or have they totally moved on to lasers?

Also, I joked/implied that Higgs boson might make some of the technologies in Star Trek possible.

I don't really know that, but imaginations and technology development have a habit of leap frogging off each other's backs.

Today's cell phones look suspiciously like the communicators on Star Trek. I've often said into my cell, "Scottie, beam me out of here."

The other side of the physics of elementary particle research is the implications beyond our confined lives.

I find spiritual comfort in the fact that each time we press the curtain to one side, we discover the creator of the universe has another exquisite wonderous layer which was working to make this universe the way it is.

Next post: who is this Northern Irish bloke, Steve Myers, who is in search of the Higgs Boson?

Did you miss the first post? Click here to go back to the first post.

Click here to see an interesting lecture by Lisa Randall on Extra Dimensional Particle Resonance at the Large Hadron Collider.

Northern Irish Scientist Works to Prove Higgs Boson Exists

Steve Myers is a physicist from Northern Ireland who is part of the team which is accumulating evidence of the Higgs boson.

What is the Higgs boson?

It's an elementary particle.

It is really, really small. It's smaller than atoms, electrons, protons, and neutrons.

If you took science classes in the late 60s or early 70s, you probably remember the pictures of atoms as little balls called electrons circling a cluster of protons and neutrons. The cluster was the nucleus of the atom. The idea was much like planets going around the sun.

Then when you took chemistry in college, the professor and textbooks told you electrons traveled in orbitals. Some orbitals were spheres around the nucleus which seemed like the old model of electrons but the orbits could be anywhere at a set distance from the nucleus so you got a sphere the electron moved in, instead of a flat circular orbit.

But some of the orbitals looked like water balloons oriented around the central nucleus. Those looked odd, but then you really got your mind stretched because the professor told you the electrons weren't really particles and the orbitals were sort of clouds of positions of where the electron might be.  The electron was a cloud? You probably thought, "Where did my particles go?"

To make matters worse, scientists continued to call electrons particles, even though they really meant they were clouds of where the electron might be if you forced it to become a particle for an instant.

But the clouds were really useful because if you brought two atoms together and their electrons could share the orbital clouds and satisfy the maximum number of electrons which that orbital liked to have, then you would have a really strong chemical bond. Also, if you excited the electrons to higher orbitals and then they electrons would fall back to their lower original orbitals and release energy in the form of light.

So it was tough to argue with clouds because they explained all the bond strengths and energy states so well. And the artists could show me the shaped clouds called orbitals, so I eventually got comfortable with them.
Fast forward to today, and all these particles have been determined to be made of smaller particles that again are not really tiny balls at all, at least no one thinks they are.

From Wikipedia, here are some particles that appear to make up the things we see or otherwise perceive:

"The 12 fundamental fermionic flavours are divided into three generations of four particles each. Six of the particles are quarks. The remaining six are leptons, three of which are neutrinos, and the remaining three of which have an electric charge of −1: the electron and its two cousins, the muon and the tau."

Stay with me.

These particles have properties called things like charge (like the property assigned to electrons, and protons), spin, and color.  Spin isn't really what you are thinking of and color is definitely an odd term used to describe the nearly unexplainable. I haven't seen an artistic rendition of all these things yet. Do you have one?

Just a little more and we'll get to the Higgs Boson.

All 24 elementary particles are either fermions or antiparticles (depending on their spin). Don't ask. Just accept it.

The bosons either mediate forces or are the Higgs Boson.

If the Higgs boson exists, it has a spin of 0 and is responsible for the intrinsic mass of particles.

If it exists, the Higgs boson would most likely explain the existence of the Higgs Field. 

The Higgs Field is suspected to exist everywhere, including in a perfect vacuum.

Here is what blows my mind:

My high school physics textbook was innovative for its time. It taught about the history of physics as well as the theories then present.  In the 1800s there was this theory of aether (or 'ether' was another spelling) being a field that penetrated all space as a transmission medium for the propagation of electromagnetic or gravitational forces.  It was an invisible lattice that allowed all elements and forces to work.  In 1905, Albert Einstein himself shot down the whole theory of aether with his special theory of relativity.

Most physicists concluded that this theory of an aether was not a useful concept.

What amazes me is that after more than 100 years, the theory of physics has returned back to a field that exist everywhere, even in a vacuum!
Next Post: Why we should care about the Higgs boson and are the technologies on Star Trek really possible? Click here.

Here is a good, easily understood presentation on the Higgs boson.

And this one goes deeper still.