Twenty Thousand hits: Celebrating with Cigars

Wednesday, 6 February 2013 17:44

During the night the Ice Moon passed 20,000 hits. I find that an astonishing figure. When I first began to write this blog I had no idea how many hits a website might achieve. For at least a year I had no way of recording those hits even, though I suspect the number prior to that was small enough anyway, maybe two or three a day, five at the most. Eventually I discovered statcounter.com and set up a hit-counter. Still, it was a long time before the hits surpassed five a day.

I began writing the Moon for two reasons. In 2006 it seemed to me that the hegemony of neoliberalism in Ireland always went unchallenged. No media outlet proposed another view – indeed this complete dereliction of duty on the part of the majority of journalists here is partly responsible for the deep crisis that now blights the lives of many working people in Ireland. There were very few voices arguing against it, and at the time, none of them were writers. Since then a fine group of young women and men has emerged, poets particularly. But back then, and it now seems a long time ago, there was nobody to suggest that political literature was possible. I had even heard a fellow poet declaring on a radio phone-in that political poetry was bad poetry. The implication was that politics was a kind of blind alley or a form of pollution for literature, to be avoided at all costs. I wanted to make some small contribution to changing that normalising mechanism. That is what started me thinking about writing a blog. Coincidentally, the Mac that I work on provided me with the software free of charge.

The second reason I began to write The Ice Moon was because I knew no reputable newspaper would publish anything that was both political and left-wing. At that time I regularly reviewed for The Irish Times, and I had written for The Irish Examiner. The Irish Times had taken a profound right-wing swing with the appointment of ex-PD Geraldine Kennedy (who introduced the Bush-apologist Charles Krauthammer to an unsuspecting Irish public). I knew The Irish Examiner was unlikely to go for my work. That really left me with little option. And so it began with this piece - my first experiment in blog writing. After that the range widened. I wrote about other writers - Saramago, for instance - politics, books, observations and current affairs.

The image of the Ice Moon comes from a photograph I took one very cold Christmas. If you look carefully you can se
e the pink of human fingers. They belong to my son Oisín who held the near perfect circle of ice for me. Here’s the original.

Over the years I’ve received tremendous support and encouragement from my family and friends, from fellow writers who haven’t always agreed with my point of view, from websites like Irish Left Review, Three Monkeys Online and Critical Legal Thinking.

I have not been the object of the usual trolling commentary because at the outset I made a decision not to include a comment facility. I simply didn’t have the time or energy to deal with that kind of shit. And anyway, I thought of the pieces I wrote for the Moon as something much closer to print articles which appear, are read (sometimes) and which the writer very rarely hears about afterwards. Had any of these pieces appeared in a magazine or newspaper, people could, if they wanted to, write me a letter or email. To do so they would have had to abandon anonymity, at least to some extent. I did receive many emails, and no one ever hid behind that shield. Instead, an energising and rewarding engagement with people’s feelings and beliefs ensued. Many people worte to suggest changes, to correct mistakes and to argue the case. Even my most recent post on the Magdalene Laundries attracted comment from a friend in Australia and caused me to make a change to the article.

Among the hits, over the years, some very interesting servers have shown up. During the Bush years the Moon was regularly visited by a server that identified itself as US Mil Int. I had hits from Langley, Virginia. The site has been visited by Irish Government servers, EU servers, Israeli servers and many many more. Articles have been picked up and commented upon or reposted by places as far apart as Haaretz, The Guardian and Anarchist News. Reposting was aided by my initial decision (under the advice of fellow novelist Philip Casey) to adopt a Creative Commons Licence, which meant that left-wing sites could freely borrow the articles.

So I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to all the people who generated those 20,000 hits. I feel deeply honoured that you chose to read my work here, whether you agreed with the sentiments or not. It’s certainly been an interesting experience for me. I hope it was good for you too.

Now let’s open that tube of Bolivar cigars, direct from Habana, Cuba. And maybe a tincture of Cooley Mountain whiskey - or whatever you’re having yourself!