Wladimir Gawriilowitsch Krikhatzkij’s painting ‘The First Tractor’. Throughout the 1920s, thousands of Cork-built Model Fs were sold to the Soviet Union, where the communist authorities were so impressed they soon started making cloned versions. In the meantime, the Cork machines must have aided collectivisation of farms. As such, one or two may even have had their portraits painted. The concept of a community’s “first tractor”, collectively purchased, was a recurring theme in early Soviet art. Whatever they did for communism, meanwhile, the tractors were a boon to Irish trade, at least for a few years.
A chassis of State

An Irishman’s Diary about historic tractors

“The Garvie mill was made in Aberdeen, as its nameplate announced. But I learned with a moistened eye that it had spent its working life among the little hills of Monaghan. And as we stood around admiring it, I was introduced to a veteran mill-man whose face was vaguely familiar.” Photograph: Frank McNally
Neat and tidy in Trim

An Irishman’s Diary on idyllic Meath

“There was a time, after all, when it was still acceptable to use the term ‘Scotch’ of Northern Britons, as well as of their whisky and terriers. But such has the word’s stigmatisation over the centuries, by the English mainly, this is no longer the case.”

An Irishman’s Diary about adjectives and whiskey

“The new €169 million brewhouse doesn’t suggest a company in retreat. And the investment should add to Dublin’s economic health, however Diageo pronounces it.” Photograph: Frank McNally
Burning the toast

An Irishman’s Diary about Guinness, Dublin history and Jonathan Swift

“Billy Brennan’s Barn is up for sale. Yes, in what may be another sign of renewed confidence in the Irish property market, the famous outhouse, backdrop to Kavanagh’s 1936 sonnet Inniskeen Road: July Evening, has been placed on the market.” Photograph: myhome.ie

An Irishman’s Diary about poetic properties

“Contrary to the poet’s view, I would argue that there was no job to compete with being up on the platform, feeding sheafs of wheat and barley down into the jaws of the machine.”
No trouble at mill

An Irishman’s Diary about Patrick Kavanagh and threshing

The incident set me thinking about Ireland’s strange relationship between time and meteorology, which is enshrined even in Irish grammar. There, we use to the same word (aimsir) to mean both “weather” and “tense”. Which among other things gives rise to an excellent joke on TG4, where the Aimsir Láithreach (“present tense“) is also the title of the weather forecast.

An Irishman’s Diary about Hiberno-English

The story goes that, in September 1914, the veteran general Joseph Gallieni, based in Paris, devised a dramatic plan. Commandeering every available taxi, he rushed thousands of men to the front overnight. The subsequent counter-attack stopped the German advance, and a grateful city hailed its taxi fleet as saviour.The truth, as you may suspect, was more complicated.

An Irishman’s Diary about the First Battle of the Marne

Paper boys head onto the streets with the Connacht Tribune hot off the presses  in the late 1950s.

An Irishman’s Diary about a threatened species of street vendor

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