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'The Vikings in Ireland' author delves into Norse influence

Maine author James L. Nelson returns to the Maine Irish Heritage Center this Sunday, Oct. 26, with "Dubh-linn," the second book in his trilogy "The Norsemen Saga."10-24-14-TG-vikings-pic-by-Zachary-Hollen

Nelson's talk will focus on how the Vikings became integrated into Irish society and the significant influence the Norsemen had on Irish art, culture, and trade. It begins at 2 p.m.

Dubh-linn is the Gaelic place name that means "Black Pool" and is the origins of modern-day Dublin. "Dubh gall" was the word the Irish used for the Danes, and they called the Norwegians "Fin gall," which means "White Strangers" in Irish Gaelic, and is the name of Nelson's first book in this series. Nelson is looking forward to continuing a discussion be began a year ago, about the Norse invasion of Ireland and how they spread out, started plundering, and then began settling there.

"On Sunday, I'll talk more about how Viking and Irish societies melded," said Nelson, a Harpswell resident of Norse ancestry who used to sail professionally on traditional ships.
He will discuss "loan words, where one language adopts the words of another," and offered the example of Wicklow, the county town of County Wicklow in Ireland. The word comes from the Old Norse word "Vikinglo" or "Vik-lo," which means "Viking meadow," and the Irish phrase "Cill Mhantáin," which means "church of the toothless one." (Nelson is working on the third book in "The Norsemen Saga" and plans to call it "Vik-Lo." For this next book, he has been reading a lot about Irish leather boats called "curraghs.")

On Sunday, he will also address other Scandinavian influences on the Emerald Isle, including the exchanges that took place in artwork.

"The Celtic knot design and the elaborate interwoven characters were originally a Norse style adopted by the Irish, and it became a style shared by both cultures," he said. "Irish maritime history was also influenced by the Vikings. The Irish now have a reputation for being great seafarers, but they didn't go to sea that much before the Viking arrival, so most words used in boatbuilding are Scandinavian loan words."

Until recently, Nelson had been the education coordinator at the Maine Maritime Museum, but is now back to writing full-time. He has written 18 books, 13 of them fiction. Whether he's creating an imagined realm of Vikings in Ireland or pirates in Colonial America, or chronicling the history of battling ironclad ships, Nelson said "the overarching theme has always been maritime history. I love the American Revolutionary period the most, and most of my writing is focused on that."

His earlier work making up stories and developing characters helped to inform his later historical writing.

"It was an advantage for me to begin my writing career by writing fiction," he said. "You develop certain story-telling techniques that can be applied to non-fiction."

Nelson is most pleased when a reader of his non-fiction tells him it reads like a novel. Although his published work tends toward longer narratives, both real and imagined, the author does dip into the shorter form at least once a year.

"I usually write a sonnet for my wife, Lisa, on Valentine's Day," he said. "I give it to her with the understanding that she not show it to anyone."

They have been married for 21 years, and he has written almost as many sonnets for her, but in busy years, he said he's resorted to limericks.


Event Details:
The Vikings in Ireland: A Meeting and Melding
with author James L. Nelson
Sunday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.
Maine Irish Heritage Center
Corner of State and Gray streets, Portland
Admission $5/Free for MIHC members
For more information, visit www.maineirish.com or call 780-0118

Last Updated on Friday, 24 October 2014 00:36

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With tally ongoing, Windham's Octoberfest expected to raise more than $17,000

The Octoberfest Family Fun Day Celebration held in Windham Saturday, Oct. 18, drew three times the usual crowd and raised thousands of dollars for regional food pantries, organizers reported.10-24-14-windham-october-free-2
"The money is still coming in — but I believe we are going to make a bit over $17,000. We are extremely pleased with this," wrote Aimee Senatore, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, in an email message to The Sun.
The event itself raised more than $4,000 on that day alone, and "in addition to these funds, the Sebago Lakes Rotary Club held a food packaging event in partnership for the same cause — and packaged enough meals to feed over 30,000 people," Senatore reported. "That food was boxed up and is being dispersed to our local food pantries as well."10-24-14-windham-october-free
The Community Coin Challenge and other events on the day raised money for area food pantries. Songo Locks School donated 96,000 pennies for $960 toward the benefit — or the equivalent of 6,000 pounds of food, organizers said.
A highlight that offered a bird's-eye view of the region: Windham Weaponry, maker of high-quality rifles, provided a helicopter, which offered rides over Sebago Lake. A variety of booths were set up in front of Buck's Naked BBQ, with the Kora Shriners Log Rollers and a host of businesses and groups welcoming the public.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 October 2014 00:37

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Consul General of Ireland pays a visit to Portland

The Maine Irish Heritage Center and the Irish American Club of Maine welcomed the Consul General of Ireland Brendan O'Caollai and the Vice Consul Jillian O'Keeffe to the heritage center Tuesday night. During this historic visit to Maine, O'Caollai also met with Portland Mayor Michael Brennan at City Hall earlier in the day, and then later chatted with members of the Portland Hurling Club, Mike Delahanty and Conor Boyle.10-24-14-TG-irish-main-Consul-General-of-Ireland-Brendan-OCaollai

During his talk at the Maine Irish Heritage Center, O'Caollai said he was "16th man on his hurling team," in a sport that features 15-man squads, adding that it was great that a sport so steeped in Irish history could make its way to the United States.

"Thirty-seven million Americans claim Irish ancestry," O'Caollai said, "second only to the Germans," and he emphasized that America continues to show "a willingness to welcome, if not to welcome then to adapt to, immigrants."10-24-14-TG-irish-Mike-Delahanty-left-and-Conor-Boyle-members-of-the-Portland-Hurling-Club-1

Consul General O'Caollai (pronounced O'Qualley) was appointed to his position in October of 2013. He gave an overview of consular services giving special attention to the role of his office in applications for citizenship and passport applications.

Born in Cabra, northwest of Dublin, the son of a train yard worker, O'Caollai has five siblings, living in Ireland and the U.S. He and his wife, Carmel (Callan) have three adult children: Eoin, Fiona and Siobhan.

The two representatives of the local hurling team both discovered the game while visiting Ireland. Delahanty, a fullback, and Boyle, a midfielder, practice at Wainwright fields in South Portland. They are part of a pub league featuring teams like Brian Boru in Portland and the Griffin Club in South Portland that play against each other. Then, the better players from the pub teams assemble to represent Maine at nationals.

"I've been to nationals a number of times," Delahanty said. "We won the Shield trophy in San Francisco in 2011 and in Philadelphia in 2012."

Last Updated on Friday, 24 October 2014 00:36

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Midtown project in Bayside scaled down, per settlement

A group of Bayside residents and property owners who appealed a city board's approval of the ambitious, $100 million Midtown project announced this week that the Bayside development has been scaled back.
Keep Portland Livable reported that the group, which led the opposition to the Midtown project and joined with a group of plaintiffs who filed suit in Superior Court in February of this year, had reached agreement to work with the city and the developer toward a settlement of the court case.
The agreement to work with the city of Portland and Miami-based developer The Federated Companies follows the developer's proposal to significantly redesign the project's height and scale, Keep Portland Livable reported. The original included four 14-story towers and two parking garages at the peninsula's gateway behind Marginal Way.
Federated's revised proposal to build four, six-story buildings and a single parking garage will now be reviewed by the Planning Board with the developer planning to break ground in the spring of 2015, Keep Portland Livable announced.
Federated's founder and Chairman Jonathan Cox said Wednesday that economics played into the decision.
"It is six stories," he confirmed, and explained some of the changes.
"I think that because of the reduction in income, we were forced to change the construction type which actually put a limitation on the height of the project. We worked pretty closely with the folks at Keep Portland Livable," Cox said in a telephone interview.
"We found that this is kind of the happy medium where we can make economic sense of the project while at the same time adhering to the type of vision they had for the site which was a lower-scale, lower- density project."
Now a $75 million project, Cox said, "It's a pretty substantial investment," adding that the company hopes to start construction early next year and aim to have it finished by the end of 2016.
Scheduled to be built in phases originally, with "this downsized project, our plan is to build it in a single phase," he said.
Initially reported as a $105 million high-rise development, Midtown
(formerly known as Maritime Landing) prompted lengthy debate, with a planning board hearing in December 2013 which stretched roughly two and half hours. Some called it a much-needed infusion of housing and people and others an out-of-scale development that would not best serve Portland.
In 2011, the Federated Companies announced that it had been awarded the contract to purchase seven lots of land totaling 3.25 acres in the Bayside area. In September 2012, the City Council agreed to give the developers $9 million in grants and loans to pay for the construction of a 700-space parking garage. The grant funds were to come out of a $12 million program developed in 2008 and 2009 with the U.S. Department of Housing and urban Development that would provide $10.2 million in loan assistance and $1.8 million in grant assistance, according to a staff memo.
This January, the Portland Planning Board approved the controversial project, envisioned to occupy a former scrapyard on Somerset Street.
A major point of emphasis during city review was the walkability of the project, particularly with pedestrian access. Cox on Wednesday said this goal remains intact.
"We shared a common vision with them in the preservation of the functionality of the project at the street level, so there have been very few changes at that street level, the major change is the reduction in height. We wanted to preserve the project's walkability, because as the neighborhood continues to get built out this will be a big part of its success," Cox said.
Keep Portland Livable co-founder Peter Monro, in a press release, stated, "We fought for almost two years to ensure that the Midtown project conforms with the city's design standards and its commitment to redevelop the neighborhood in line with the community's own New Vision for Bayside plan. While not perfect, the new design represents a solid victory for the people of Portland and the members of our group who raised their voices in support of a better plan and a better city, and now will continue to be part of the city's planning process."
Cox said, "The 100,000 feet of retail, we believe, will activate that street and really breathe some life into that neighborhood."
"This agreement to work toward a settlement and redesign of the project demonstrates that we are not anti-development," said Tim Paradis, the other co-founder of Keep Portland Livable, in the group's press release. "The future of Portland is not simply about increasing our population and property tax base. It's vital that we grow Portland in line with our qualities as a Top Ten best small city. We need to sustain down-town's unique walkability and promote genuine mixed use development that incentivizes generators of good jobs to invest here."
Both Monro and Paradis expressed appreciation of the initiative by Cox "in advancing a significant redesign and in working to address a range of the group's objections to the original proposal," according to the press release.
"Based on the city's historic neglect of Bayside," concluded Monro, "we of Keep Portland Livable decided that we could accept and even support Federated's redesign as the best outcome available, given all the vital city and neighborhood interests at stake. As a part of our movement toward a settlement, the city has also stepped forward and has provided assurances that will advance the aim of better design and public consultation on future projects that come before the City Council and the city Planning Board."
Keep Portland Livable welcomed residents interested in "quality urban design, job creation and new transportation solutions in Portland." The public can visit the website (www.KeepPortlanLivable.com), follow it on Twitter (@KeepPtlndLivabl) and visit it on Facebook at Keep Portland Livable.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014 23:11

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Cutler wins Bangor Daily News endorsement

In the neck-and-neck race for Maine governor, Independent candidate Eliot Cutler hopes a couple of newspaper endorsements will help him climb in the polls and score a victory on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
The Cutler campaign reported Wednesday that the Bangor Daily News had endorsed Cutler, with an editorial stating, "He would bring needed dignity and a reasonable, business-like approach to the governor's office."
In making comparisons among the three candidates the BDN editorial team wrote, "What they've seen is a Democrat, Mike Michaud, who struggles to grasp and articulate policy details or explain his thin record of accomplishment in Congress, and a Republican incumbent, Paul LePage, who continues chasing the demons of welfare fraud and illegal immigration without offering forward-looking policies on what matters most to Mainers — creating jobs and improving the economy. Voters deserve better. They have that better choice in independent Eliot Cutler."
In addressing concerns about splitting the vote, the BDN reassured voters that: "It is not a mistake to vote for the candidate who is most qualified for the job. It is not a mistake to vote for the candidate who has put forward the most detailed and thoughtful solutions to some of Maine's most pressing problems — such as a high property tax burden and a stagnant economy. And it is not a mistake to vote for a candidate who will restore serious policymaking to the governor's office and ensure government works on issues that are most important to Maine's future."
Democrats fear that Cutler will pull votes away from Democratic candidate Michaud, who is seeing to unseat the Republican incumbent, LePage. Polls seem to reflect a tightening race.
On Oct. 9, the Pan Atlantic SMS Group Omnibus poll was released showing LePage with 39.3 percent of the "votes" of respondents, Michaud with 33.6 percent and Cutler with 19.5 percent. The poll was conducted with a randomly selected stratified sample of 400 "likely" Maine voters between Sept. 23 and Sept. 29, the polling organization reported.
A week earlier, another poll showed Michaud leading the race for governor with 40 percent, LePage with 38 percent and Cutler with 12 percent. The poll of 482 likely voters was conducted Sept. 18-25 for the Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
Earlier this year, Maine Today Media, publisher of the Portland Press Herald, decided not to endorse candidates in this year's election.
The Bangor Daily News highlighted Cutler's property tax relief plan which would increase revenue sharing to towns and cities, his campaign noted.
Earlier this week, Cutler received the endorsement of the Seacoast Newspapers.
On Oct. 19, the Portsmouth Herald, which serves readers in southern York County, became the first newspaper to make an endorsement in this year's race for governor. An editorial stated that Cutler, an Independent, has a "vision for the future and a detailed plan to get there," the Cutler campaign reported.
The Bangor Daily News, which the Cutler campaign said has the largest number of mobile, digital and print readers in Maine, published the endorsement on its website Wednesday morning, and it was scheduled to appear in the newspaper's print edition Thursday.
Candidates have issued a steady stream of press announcements about supporters and events.
Hillary Rodham Clinton will campaign with Michaud in Scarborough on Friday. President Barack Obama will also be joining him on the campaign trail on Oct. 30.

On Wednesday, President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush endorsed LePage for re-election, which made national headlines. "In their endorsement they said, 'Governor Paul LePage is our kind of get-it-done leader,'" LePage reported on Facebook.
On Wednesday, Governor LePage also was endorsed by Mayor of Lewiston Bob Macdonald and Mayor of Auburn Jonathan LaBonte, the LePage campaign announced.
"Being endorsed by my hometown Lewiston and Auburn is a really, really prideful and humbling experience for me," said LePage.

The candidates came together Tuesday for the last of five scheduled gubernatorial debates. The final debate, broadcast live statewide on WMTW and WABI, involved all three candidates. MPBN Television and Radio held a gubernatorial debate from the Gracie Theatre in Bangor Thursday, but only Cutler had committed. This event will be rebroadcast on Friday on MPBN Radio at 1 p.m. and on MPBN Television on Sunday, Oct. 26.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014 22:33

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