Arthur Conan Doyle

As part of my studies for Victorian Literature, I was required to do a presentation about Sherlock Holmes. My part of the project was to look into the authors background and life. So in this post I’ll be discussing his parents life.

Arthur’s mother was Mary Foley and was Irish and was Catholic. She was born in Wexford Ireland in 1832. Her mother however was originally protestant, and then converted to Catholicism to marry Marys father. She was disowned from her family because of it.

Arthurs father was an illistatur, artist and watercolourist – the famous Charles Altamont Doyle. He was born in London, England in March in 1832. Although he was english but his parents were both Irish Catholic. In 1849 Charles moved to Edinburgh where he met arthurs mother Mary. The couple married in July 1855.  They had 9 children together, 7 girls and 2 boys.

Charles however suffered from depression and struggled with an alcohol addiction and this disrupted the upbringing for the whole family. In 1864 the family had to be separated due his addiction and they were housed in different places across Edinburgh. Fortunately, in 1867 the family was reunited because of the determination of Mary his mother.

Charles ultimately had a mental breakdown in 1881. He was then sent to a nursing home called Fordoun House. A home which specialised alchol abuse. While in the home he contuied to paint and draw. He then died in 1893.

Mary was always supportive of Arthur and was known to be a very strong influence on his life and works. She was also known to have been a great storyteller. Mary died in 1920.

Looking into the background of the famous Arthur Canon Doyle, it was interesting to discover his irish roots. Finding out that his mother’s family was protestant and disowned her for converting was particularly interesting as Arthur is known to have struggled with the Catholic faith.


Teaching in Japan Vs teaching in Ireland

In my previous blog post I discussed a few ways that the classroom is different in China in comparison to Ireland. Another country that shares a alternate classroom experience is Japan.

Japan and China share some similar cultural norms such as not looking someone in the eye as it is thought to be disrespectful, the same fears of shame and embarrassment when speaking or asking questions in class.

The Japanese school year is a lot longer than the regular school day here in Ireland. Japanese school schedule would usually go as shown below

  • First Term – early April finishing in July
  • Summer Break – late July finishing up in late August (usually 6 weeks)
  • Second Term – early September to late December
  • Winter Break – end of December to early January
  • Third Term – early January ending in  late March
  • Spring Break – late March to early April

In Ireland the school year is a lot short. The schedule would usually go as follows:

  • First Term – September to late October
  • October Midterm Break – late October to beginning of November
  • Winter Break – Late December to usually the second week in January
  • February Midterm Break – a week in the middle of the month
  • Easter Break – which dates varies on a yearly basis but is 2 weeks break in March to April
  • Summer break – late June to September

There is a big difference in the amount of time both the student and teacher would spend in the classroom.  Another interesting difference is that in Japan, there are no janitors. The teacher would be expected to wash and brush the floors of their classroom each day. Which is no harm I suppose, however it’s not exactly something you’d think of.

Anther interesting fact about schools in Japan is that they hold a ‘no shoes in the classroom’ like policy. Each student and teacher is assigned a chubby in order to store their shoes during school time. In Ireland, you would properly get in a spot of trouble for running around the place with no shoes on. But to be honest I don’t think its such a bad idea, especially if the teacher is the one who is responsible for maintaining a clean and tidy classroom.



Teaching in Ireland Vs Teaching in China

This semester one of our option modules was TESOL I decided to take it for future career possibilities. Though out the course have had my eyes open to the different cultures and traditions of teaching in countries outside of Ireland. I thought it was very interesting to see the ways people are expected to teach across the world.

One of the countries that stood out for me was China. The population of China alone in comparison to Ireland is substantial. China being home to around 1,356 billion people in contrast with Ireland’s 4,595 million.

This population gap would obviously effect classroom sizes. In china a teacher would be expected to teach between 30 and 50 students in a class. In Ireland classroom occupancy would be between 20 to possibly 30 students.  Due to this large pupil to teacher ratio in china, pupils do not get the chance to spend one to one time with the teacher.

Due to Chinese culture, students are less likely to answer or even ask questions in class due to fear of being humiliated or looking silly in front of their classmates. This makes it difficult for teachers to know whether a student needs a little extra help, and with a large number of students in each class it is a lot easier for them to get left behind.

There is also an added pressure to teachers of English in china because the teacher is expected to know everything. The students do not usual participate and the whole class would typically consist of the teacher speaking.

In Ireland I feel that we are comfortable to speak in front of the class and are in fact encouraged to do so. It’s unfortunate that the traditional ways of Chinese culture interrupts this aspect of learning and building a relationship between a teacher and their students.

if your interested in reading some more about teaching in China here’s a link to a blog i read.


ipods_sligo-300x225.jpgother sources:

American Regionalism

In my previous post i was talking about Eamon de Valera’s fear of change in Ireland during the 1960’s. When i was studying abroad, i took a module American Art, which i have discussed some aspects here before, but i noticed that America went through a similar stage in the 1930’s around the time of the American Industrial revolution.

The country was not ready to meet the fast pace of city life and they clenched onto the past by depicting rural america in an idealised manner. This form of art became known as American Regionalism. The artists would create paintings in which rural america appear to be thriving. they illustrated manual labour, even though machinery was becoming increasing popular at the time, stability, the true american hard working families. They longed for the America before it became industrialised, before the big change of life in America.

The picture below is painted by one of the most famous regional painters, Grant Wood.

Grant Wood, American Gothic


Woods work was aimed to appreciate  America, and not countries in Europe. In this example we can see a man and wife standing outside their traditional american house, the pitch fork he is holding represents three things,  Unity with God and the holy spirit, it represents hand manual labour, and third, hell. The pitchfork can be in relation to the devils, the devil being the one taking people away from traditional american life.

Similar to the situation that occurred in Ireland just over  two decades previous. They wanted the ‘Traditional’ life to remain the same. Nostalgia shared by both countries.Its interesting to see Ireland was not the only country that went through a fear of change in traditional life.

Eamon de Valera fear of Televisions

In my previous post i was discussing Censorship in Ireland. Last week in my Irish Literature class we discussed the ways new developments of technologies such as television broadcasting and radio broadcasting were received by the Irish government and particularly the president at the time Eamon de Valera.

The first television broadcast in Ireland was in 1961. Eamon de Valera, who was president at the time had the honor to be the first person to speak on the service. The great president used his time to speak about the fears and also the hopes he held with the introduction of this new service. he leads with telling us he is privileged to be the first person on the Irish service but then leads to discuss how when he thinks of

‘television and radio and their immense power I feel somewhat afraid’.

The fear De Valera was talking about was obviously not in relation to a box with an aerial of course but more towards his dread of the change Ireland was undergoing. The introduction of television and radio meant that the Irish household could now be influenced by the voices that he nor the Irish government could control. The terror that these foreign ideas would taint the Ireland they fought for.

The Irish government was too concerned with what they wanted Ireland to be and the fact that these devices could be accessed by a vast amount of homes throughout the country is what they were afraid of. 

When i think of all the ways we can access people’s ideas today with Facebook, twitter and so on,  I can only imagine that De Valera would be petrified.

I’ve attached a link here where you can watch the first Irish television broadcast. Enjoy!


Censorship in Ireland from 1929 to 1972

This week in my Irish Literature class we learned about censorship in Ireland after we had become a free state. This was something i had not really gave much thought to as it is not really a problem here today.

In 1929, which was just seven years after Ireland gained its independence, a law was brought in known as Censorship of Publications Act, 1929. This act prohibited the publication of a range of texts such as book, advertisements, films, newspapers and magazines which discussed important social topics such as Catholic morality, abortion and birth control, homosexuality and sex.

It is clear that the Irish Government did not want these issues discussed by the people. it was a drastic measure they took in trying to prevent the Irish from ‘being lead a stray’ and an attempt to purify them.

This act effected a lot of Irish writers as their content was banned. in fact famous writers such as Frank O’Connor and Kate O’Brien who’s works were banned in Ireland during this time. This restricted many peoples ability to make a living from writing so it left many with two options, either immigrate to places such as Spain and the United Kingdom, or to give up writing altogether.

I think its insane that the Irish government were able to stop the people from discussing vital social concepts and were forced to keep quite. Nowadays I think the Irish would fight a lot harder for their freedom of speech. Even now Ireland is fighting to repeal the 8th amendment which is the constitutional ban on abortion in Ireland. So I think we have grown up in the sense that we know what we should be entitles to as a nation and are more willing to stand up for ourselves


After starting my study of Victorian Literature, I saw that we had Sherlock as one of the texts to study. I have always had a deep love for the stories of Sherlock Holmes and when I saw this text I was delighted. I had never read the original texts and the chance to study it fascinated me.

 Sherlock is one of the best television series available at the moment.  The re-imagining’s of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into modern day London has presented us with a spectacular and brilliant homage to the author. The witty and cutting remarks of our protagonist provide entertainment throughout the show and is bought to life by the incredible and handsome Benedict Cumberbatch without whom the show may not have flourished.  The details which has been incorporated from the original novels serve to enrich the existing storylines and add to the overall effect of the series.

Sherlock season 4

Of course you can’t have Sherlock without Doctor Watson and Martin Freeman could not play the part better. The two have amazing chemistry and really bring the friendship to life adding to the credibility of the programme and the authenticity.  The relationships within the series are portrayed with skill and are one of the attracting aspects of the show.

I started watching this show during my leaving which was probably a very bad idea considering how addictive it is and then the torturous wait for the next episode is so long! Definitely cut into studying time but I got my choice of course so it can’t have done that much harm. But the extra-long episodes make it so worth it and if you haven’t seen it yet I cannot recommend it enough.

Now, no show is complete without an evil mastermind and the wonderful Irish actor Andrew Scott portrays Moriarty so well that he literally becomes the character and it’s impossible to see him as anything else. Honestly I adore him as this character, the vitality and humour he brings the role doesn’t dampen the malevolent nature of Moriarty at all and simply adds a sinister and insane edge.