By Patrick Markey
Fancy yourself as a rampaging Nordic king?
If you or your relatives live in Rush, you may now get a little closer to your dream.
Residents of the town north of Dublin who have reason to believe their ancestors were "bloodthirsty pirates who raped and pillaged" are being offered a chance to prove their Viking heritage thanks to a new BBC documentary.
The Fingal Independent reports that the television company is linking up with University College London to try to uncover Viking roots.
The team is recruiting 2,500 male volunteers, including 100 living within a radius of the town, to offer samples for analysis of their genes. Saliva samples will profile the DNA of the men through high-tech genetic testing to help identify the ultimate genetic consequences of the Viking invasions.
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"The Vikings spread farther and conquered more widely than the Romans, yet little is known about their time in Dark Age Britain and Ireland," explained the BBC. "The survey will attempt to discover how many of the Vikings stayed and made the British Isles their home."
The survey will not be looking for physical characteristics, such as coloring and height, which are largely irrelevant, but will look at particular genes that have no known effect and are thought to have been common in Vikings.
The survey calls for any male, regardless of ethnic background, who lives within 20 miles of Rush and who can trace either his father’s father or his mother’s mother to the same location.
A Leinster judge has taken up an innovative approach to dealing with youthful scuffles. Two youths found fighting were ordered to hug and make up at a recent sitting of Carlow District Court.
The Leinster Nationalist reports that 18-year-old James Doogue and Adrian Flood, who is also 18, pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive and insulting behavior and with being intoxicated in a public place.
Gardai said they found the two defendants fighting with each other and arrested them. When they had been given time to cool off in the back of a gardai van, it transpired the two were really best of friends.
When asked what the dispute was about, both defendants replied they had no idea.
So the judge ordered the young men to hug each other in court. She then remanded them on bail, ordered them to attend an alcohol-awareness program and write an essay entitled "With Hindsight."
Venus on the rip
If it’s good enough for the Vatican, it’s good enough for Waterville.
At least that is the attitude of a local Kerry artist who has painted a controversial Venus portrait Botticelli nude on the side of the village coffee shop.
The Kerryman newspaper reports that the 14-foot-high image of the bare-breasted goddess Venus rising from the sea has also raised some eyebrows.
But the mural’s instigator, Noelle Campbell-Sharp, is defending the mural as a work of art — which is completed by a pint of Guinness in her hand.
"The biggest collection of Botticelli is in the Vatican,” Sharp said. "The Vatican has more paintings of nudes than anywhere else. I believe it’s a classic image."
Meath artist, Fionnuala Collins, applied a little artistic license by including the pint of Guinness in the hand of her subject.
Sharp, founder of a local arts project, rejects any suggestion that the mural, painted to draw attention to a summer art and music festival, is lowering the tone of the village.
"Botticelli would hardly lower the tone of anywhere," she said. "It was based on a classic image. It symbolizes Waterville emerging from the sea resplendent in its beauty. In fact, it was natural to give it a local Irish thrust by putting a pint of Guinness in her hand and Guinness came in and sponsored it.”
Missing in action
Ireland is fast becoming the nation of choice for political refugees from all over the world.
But in Dublin, officials are scratching their heads over the overnight disappearance of one set of refugee families.
The families had lived in a local apartment block for a year, but just two weeks ago, all of the refugees vanished overnight, the Northside People reported. Authorities remain tight-lipped on the matter, but the apartments remain boarded up and the main gates padlocked.
Local residents had whipped up a storm of complaints over alleged anti-social behavior in and around the complex. Numerous complaints were made to public representatives about littering, vandalism and suspicious activities at night.
The Eastern Health Board, Dublin Corporation and Department of Justice all said they had "no idea" what had happened to the refugees. Even public representatives were left in the dark.
"I recently noticed that the complex was locked up, but I don’t know what happened," said one local pol.