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‘Miraculous Architecture of The Russian North’

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The extraordinary William Brumfield has done it again with another great book about Russian architecture. Brumfield is a legend and, despite living in New Orleans where he is a professor at Tulane, a Russian national treasure.

The book came out in late June, and is available on Amazon.

The first 20 pages of the book are available online from Duke University Press

Here are some blurbs:

“The Russian north lies beyond the American imagination; and is imagined by Russians more than it is known. William Craft Brumfield has done more to uncover this vast and culturally rich area than nearly anyone of his generation either American or, for that matter, Russian. Brumfield reveals a region of vast cultural wealth and natural beauty that has suffered more than its share of history’s vicissitudes. His homage to the region’s architecture proclaims to the world that no one can understand Russia without beginning in the north.”

(Blair A. Ruble, author of Washington’s U Street: A Biography)

New book by William Brumfield reveals the miraculous architecture of the Russian North


“In this combination of travelogue, diary, and history, William Craft Brumfield brings to life a northern territory which, in many respects, subsumes the ancient Russia of hallowed tradition, harsh winter, and human steadfastness. Driven by a passion for things Russian and a rare aesthetic sensitivity, Brumfield embarked upon an arduous journey towards the White Sea and, with luminous photographic skill and deft description, has rediscovered and represented a vast cultural stratum of ecclesiastical architecture, iconostases, cemeteries, and simple wooden huts.”

(John E. Bowlt, author of Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900-1920: Art, Life & Culture of the Russian Silver Age)


“William Craft Brumfield’s intrepid explorations of European Russia’s remotest northern region and their photographic record are a humbling reminder that the pursuit of scholarship takes physical fortitude as well as intellectual curiosity.  It’s an adventure to journey with him—by text and image—and discover the astounding variety and quality of the extant architecture heritage in this sometimes nearly trackless zone.  As he scans the frozen horizon for onion domes, we owe him immensely for his tireless labors.”

(John Beldon Scott, author of Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin)


Following is a pre-review, which appeared at RBTH in April.

New book by William Brumfield reveals the miraculous architecture of the Russian North

The Arctic Circle, the White Sea and lonely villages spared by time – William Brumfield, professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, has spent years traveling through these most isolated regions of the Russian North photographing the beauty of traditional Russian architecture.

Brumfield’s latest book, Architecture at the End of the Earth: Photographing the Russian North, contains some 200 glorious color photographs of legendary centuries-old structures and documents various aspects of Russian architecture, from log houses to grand cathedrals.

In his photographs of onion-domed wooden churches in Varzuga, the massive walled Transfiguration Monastery on Great Solovetsky Island and the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Vologda, Brumfield outlines the region’s significance to Russian history and culture. For decades Brumfield has collected material on the art of building in the Russian North, from ancient times to the end of the Soviet era.

“It is especially important to preserve the region’s vulnerable achievements of master Russian carpenters,” says Brumfield, “all the more so because a number of the wooden churches also contain remarkable paintings – either icons or wall art. It is also important to remember that the architecture of the Russian North is more than just wooden buildings. Working under the most difficult conditions, skilled masons built large cathedrals and monasteries with massive stone and brick walls. The style is always boldly distinctive.”

Scholar Blair Ruble, former director of the Kennan Institute for Russian studies in Washinton, DC, writes in a review of the book“The Russian north lies beyond the American imagination; and is imagined by Russians more than it is known. William Craft Brumfield has done more to uncover this vast and culturally rich area than nearly anyone of his generation either American or, for that matter, Russian. Brumfield reveals a region of vast cultural wealth and natural beauty that has suffered more than its share of history’s vicissitudes. His homage to the region’s architecture proclaims to the world that no one can understand Russia without beginning in the north.”


William Brumfield, professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, is a historian specializing in Russian architecture, a photographer, a tireless defender of monuments, and the author of 35 books and dozens of articles on the problems of preserving the architecture of Russia, primarily in the Russian North. 



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HSE working to amend booster system as people receive multiple appointments

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) is working to amend the coronavirus vaccine system, as multiple channels offering third jabs has caused challenges for the booster campaign, HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor has said.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms O’Connor explained that the booster vaccine was available through vaccination centres, general practitioners and pharmacies.

Some people had gone to their local pharmacy to get their booster vaccine and then had received an appointment at a vaccination centre, she said. She called on people to cancel their vaccination centre appointment if they had received their booster through their GP or pharmacy.

Ms O’Connor’s comments come after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Tuesday that there were 87,000 no-shows for boosters last week, and the chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, Dr Denis McCauley, described the non-attendances as “very disrespectful”.

Ms O’Connor said the priority for the HSE was to get as many people fully vaccinated as possible.

When asked about the lower levels of people in the 60-69 age cohort who have received their booster vaccine, Ms O’Connor said that not everyone in that age group would have had their second vaccine more than five months ago. That was “a natural limiter”.

Ms O’Connor said people possibly were apprehensive or busier, now that many were back at work or were preparing for Christmas, but the vaccine was important as was the booster.

To date more than a million people have received their booster vaccine, she added, and appointments will be offered to people aged between 50 and 59 from Thursday.

“We will also have walk-in centres open to people to get their vaccine and as ever we encourage everybody to avail of the vaccine. It’s really important, especially with a new variant, that we try to protect as many people as possible,” Ms O’Connor said.

‘Be respectful’

Meanwhile, Dr McAuley told Newstalk Breakfast that there were very few no-shows to booster appointments at GP surgeries, because people know their GP personally.

Now was not the time for “messing”, he said in relation to people failing to attend their appointments at vaccine centres.

“If you get a vaccine appointment, make sure that you go there rather than getting your hair done or going shopping – or if it is a work thing, stay on the helpline to get a new appointment.

“Be respectful of the mass vaccination centres. These are people who are working very hard and it is very disrespectful to have over 80,000 people not turn up in one week. It is not appropriate. You wouldn’t do it to your GP so why are you doing it to these healthcare workers.”

There was also a concern that some people were waiting to see what happens with the Omicron variant before getting their booster. Dr McCauley said that the booster would greatly reduce the chances of picking up the virus or having to go into hospital

Dr McCauley said there needed to be “a call to arms” for people to get vaccinated and he warned that when more information about Omicron emerged, booster appointments could be harder to come by.

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All you need to know on getting the Moderna vaccine as a booster

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People due to receive their Covid-19 booster vaccine in coming weeks will primarily be offered the Moderna dose at HSE vaccination centres.

The HSE is reported to have large supplies of Moderna due to expire next month, so that will be the main vaccine administered over coming weeks to the over-60s, over-50s, healthcare workers, and younger people in vulnerable groups – though it will be restricted to people over 30.

Anecdotally there are indications some people may be reluctant to take the Moderna vaccine. This may be due to Irish stocks about to expire shortly and/or confusion about its efficacy. This follows the company’s chief executive Stéphane Bancel warning last week the Moderna jab may not be as effective against Omicron as it had been with the Delta variant.

The HSE has confirmed recipients will have no choice on what vaccine they are given.

What type of coronavirus vaccine is the Moderna jab?

It is a new kind of synthetic “mRNA vaccine” – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is from the same stable. They provide excellent protection against severe illness and hospitalisation – and have played a critical role in reducing Covid-19 deaths since being approved. A downside, however, is that the Moderna version must be kept at -20 degrees.

Should people be worried about receiving a soon to be out-of-date vaccine?





Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland


10,093,390


8,193,802

In short no, as they retain the ability to boost antibody production within currently approved time spans – though inevitably potency wanes over time. The Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) vaccines were put on the market with emergency use authorisation of up to six months.

This compares with a shelf life of two to three years for most vaccines and other medicines. This is an “inevitable consequence of getting the vaccines out of the door as quickly as possible”, chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Gino Martini told the journal BMJ.

Months later, these “emergency” expiry dates remain in force for these vaccines. For approved Covid-19 vaccines, the initial shelf lives were based on data available at the time of submission for regulatory approval.

The long-term shelf life has not been extended for any of the vaccines. A shelf life extension would require supporting evidence from relevant stability studies. Vaccine manufacturers are monitoring batches of vaccines with the aim of providing a longer shelf life; probably the usual two years.

What about the Omicron threat?

While Moderna said existing vaccines including its mRNA version will probably be less effective against the Omicron variant, most experts believe they will continue to provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisation. It should be stressed, however, definitive indication has yet to emerge. That will be a matter of weeks, if not days.

Moderna has confirmed it is developing an Omicron-specific booster though manufacturing the new vaccine would take time. Tens of millions of doses could be available in the first quarter of 2022, but scale-up would not happen until the second quarter – provided it is shown such boosters are required.

What is the latest indication on the benefits of mixing vaccines?

Evidence supporting a mixing of vaccine doses has hardened over recent months. A study this week shows combining a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine with a second dose of either the Moderna or the Novavax jabs results in far higher levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells compared with two doses of the AstraZeneca jab.

This finding also has important implications for lower-income countries that have not yet completed their primary vaccination campaigns as it suggests you do not need access to mRNA vaccines – and therefore ultra-cold storage facilities – to trigger an extremely potent Covid-19 vaccine response.

The study also bolsters confidence that using the Moderna vaccine as a booster dose in people who have previously received the AstraZeneca jab should result in high levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells.

It follows separate data published last week suggesting the Pfizer and Moderna booster jabs can dramatically strengthen the body’s immune defences.

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Woman (90s) dies following single-vehicle crash in Co Clare

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A woman in her 90s has died following a single-vehicle crash in Co Clare in the early hours of Tuesday.

The incident occurred at about 12.30am at Annagh, Miltown Malbay. The woman, who was the driver and sole occupant of the car involved in the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her body was removed to Limerick University Hospital, where gardaí say a postmortem will take place at a later date.

The road has been closed to facilitate an exam by Garda forensic collision investigators, and local diversions are in place.

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses – particularly road users who may have camera footage – to come forward. Anyone with information can contact Kilrush Garda station (065 908 0550), the confidential line (1800 666 111), or any Garda station.

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