Society - The Drink - Only in Ireland - Dublin's Fair City - Sport - Current Affairs


"Sure, it'll be grand."
"Do you know what a tracker mortgage is?"
"Sure at least its not England."
"Ireland: God forbid you ever say anything good about the place."
"The only Banana Republic without actual bananas."
"We're so nice we'll only complain about you when you're gone."
"Ireland — could *you* do any better?"
"We were once poor, now we're simply in debt."
"Careful now."
"Ireland: You'll love hating it here."
"The only country in the world where only a minority speak the official first language."
"Ah sure, it'll do."
        - Suggested on


"A land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contests of athletic youths, and the laughter of comely maidens".
        - Eamon de Valera's vision of Ireland (1943)

"Would the last one out of the country please switch out the lights?"
        - Phrase which summed up emigration-hit Ireland of the 1980s

"Jealousy and begrudgery are still alive and well in Ireland, and whoever eradicates them should be prime minister for life. It’s part of the Irish psyche and it is the result of 800 years of being controlled by other people, of watching everything the master or landlord is doing."
        - Sean Dunne, interviewed in The New York Times

"I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer."
        - Brendan Behan

New Dublin isn't Paris or London or even Berlin. It's Dallas, maybe Houston. Ireland, like Texas, is a place without very much in the line of old inherited wealth. Which accounts for the tendency to bang on at every opportunity about the money we're making. The memory of want removes any embarassment about flashing a newly-acquired wad. A film which always struck a chord with me is "The Last Picture Show", the movie is all about a depressed East Texas town. When I saw it for the first time I thought I'd never see anything as true to the world around me. It was all there: the stasis, the sexual frustration, the sense that life was elsewhere and getting out the only option, the football team as the major local obsession, even the local flea-pit that provided the kids with their big night out. It was East Texas but it could have been South Sligo, West Mayo, North Galway. We've always been Texans. It's just that we used to be poor Texans and now we're rich Texans. We even have our own Mexicans in this country. They're called Poles.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, "Living in the Lone Star State", "The Sunday Independent"

You may indeed hear a young Irish woman suddenly break into song in Kinvara. But you may also walk around the corner and be served dinner by a young man with an Eastern European accent instead of a brogue... A generation ago, even a decade ago, you might have called it an unhurried place; now Kinvara captures the transformation of Ireland in so many ways... Much of the surrounding farmland is being subdivided for new homes, some of them being offered for the equivalent of $1 million and more; they appeal to young professionals looking for an easy commute into Galway, and to affluent Dubliners seeking a second-home getaway. It all leaves one wondering whether the village’s aesthetics are at risk; whether these new developments, and the taxing of the fragile infrastructure they represent, will make Kinvara less — Kinvara-like. But for now, Kinvara presents curious juxtapositions of the old and the new.
Take any crooked Burren road, whether to Kilfenora or to Lisdoonvarna, to Tubber or to Cassidy’s Pub, and something ancient — a solitary Celtic cross, a crumbled farmhouse, one of the megalithic tombs of stone called dolmens — presents itself... This sense of exposure, even oneness, with sky, rock and water continues through the short, winding drive from Slieve Carron to New Quay.
        - Dan Barry, "Does the 'Real' Ireland Still Exist?", in the New York Times

Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep. It consists mostly of scenic pastures occasionally interrupted by quaint towns with names such as (these are actual Irish town names) Ardfert, Ballybunion, Coole, Culleybackey, Dingle, Dripsey, Emmoo, Feakle, Fishguard, Gweedore, Inch, Knockaderry, Lack, Leap, Lusk, Maam, Meentullynagarn, Muff, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Nutt's Corner, Oola, Pontoon, Rear Cross, Ringaskiddy, Screeb, Sneem, Spiddle, Spink, Stradbally, Tang and Tempo.
        - Dave Barry

Dublin sucked a whole generation out of Cork (myself included), the 20- and 30-something generation who wanted not just the jobs Dublin offered, but also the feeling of excitement that comes from living in a rapidly changing city... Without a young, single and affluent generation, the people who create wealth and drive vhange from Bangalore to New York, Cork took on the demeanour of a surly hedgehof, resistant to change and resentful of Dublin... And then, the final turn of the screw: Galway happened. From nowehere, it became the place to escape the frenzy of Dublin, whether for the weekend or for good. Free from a natural resentment of Dublin, it presented a sunny face to the world and all of a sudden became the fastest-growing city in Europe... I think Galway's emergence has delivered a wake-up call which was heard all the way down in Cork... It has a wave of immigrants living in the city who weren't born with the Dublin grudge, who love Cork not because it's the old sod, but because it gives them a chance to make some money and improve their English. I think any local trying to convince them we are being ridden by Dublin will geta  dry response of "Maybe you should trying living under the Russians." Cork is finding its feet again... it's time to ditch this whole 'real capital' thing, and throw out the People's Republic crap while you're at it: these are just symbols of Cork's time in the doldrums when it had nothing better to do than moan about the Dubs.
        - Pat Fitzpatrick, "The Last Days of the People's Republic", "The Sunday Ind."

The mid-1980s were as depressing a time as this country ever had to ensure since gaining independence. It was a commonplace that, within a few years, there would ne nobody left in the West, that many of the region's villages would soon be deserted... Twenty years on, I live in a country which is one of the most prosperous in the world. It's Ireland, that third-world, people-exporting basket case of the 1980s, which has morphed into the promised land. These days, it's the plight of the immigrant rather than the emigrant which worries us.
There's quite a lot of whingeing going on at the moment and many a derisory comment being made about the Celtic Tiger, and perhaps this has masked an obvious truth which should be stated: There has never been a better time to be alive in this country. Let's remember the indignities of the appalling Eighties and be thankful for a country we wouldn't have dared to dream of back then.
Back in the Eighties, a weird demographic shift had taken place in many small towns. The population was largely comprised of children, the middle-aged, and pensioners. Places were being steadily denuded of those from the ages of 18 to 35, the very people who like to party it up at the weekend after working hard all week for their wages. Back then, people complained that small-town Ireland was dead, now they reckon it's too lively. So don't complain about the noise. Bring it on, kids. It is the sound of affluence. It is the sound of life. For many years this was a society with no life, a conformist place with the excitement level of a black-and-white Norwegian film about man's futile struggle in a godless universe.
Compared to the previous generation, kids today are better dressed, in better shape and better-looking. They are the children of a boom, and that gives them confidence. Look at TG4 for God's sake; a channel promoting that old standby of the staid cultural separatist, the Irish language. They seem unable to find a female presenter who wouldn't make a fair showing in Miss World.
And for all the worrying effect about the effect of affluence on the new generation, they seem to be far more mature and grounded then we were at their age. Take the number of twentysomethings who set up their own business, who have the guts to strike out on their own, aided by a kind of self-belief which would have once been seen as not merely foolhardy but morally suspect as well.
There is also the suggestion that the Tiger has somehow made us racist. The reality is that, in double quick time, we've assimilated the equivalent of 10% of our population in immigrants. That is the type of social upheaval which most societies had decades to engineers and still made a mess of. Well, we haven't done too badly. Where is the Irish Front National? Our race riots and racial murders? See? We're a decent enough crowd, really.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, "The Compensations of Wealth", "Sunday Independent" (Jan'07)

There's nothing cultural anti-Americans like better than to watch some documentary where the provider of a smarmy voiceover has travelled Stateside and rounded up as many luanatic as he can find in the belief that he's saying something profound about the awfulness of Ameican existence. Anti-Americanism has a long and proud Europeam tradition. It was peddled tirelessly by French communists in their bid to explain why we'd actually be mush freer under Soviet totalitarianism than under American 'cultural imperialism'. What was a stint in Siberia next to the torture of having to eat burgers, drink Coca-Cola and listen to rock music? If this is imperialism, it is a very benign form. People consume American culture because they like it. It is irresistible to them and touches parts of their hearts and soul which are unmoved by native offerings... All over the world there are people whose everday lives are informed by American culture and for whom America is something to aspire to. People dream of emigrating there and bettering their lot. Every flag-burning zealot in a town square has a neighbour who prays each night for a green card. Nowhere in the world is as multicultural as New York.
In the aftermath of the earthquakes in Pakistan it was the Americans who led the relief effort and saved the most Muslim lives. Say what you like about the American military, but if an earthquake has buried you under 50 foot of rubble, they'll be more use to you than Noam Chomsky... The reality is that the departure of George W Bush will change nothing for the serial deriders of America... After all when push came to shove, the Chomskys and the Pinters backed Slobodan Milosevic against Bill Clinton. Anti-Americanism is not so much a political position as a pathology.
America poses a big problem for the elitist because the presiding spirit of so much of its culture is democratic... It is one of history's bizarre ironies that people on the left always tend to ascribe gullibility and stupidity to the masses. Their message is that you don't like the stuff you like of your own free will but because you've been brainwashed into it. What you need is someone to point you in the right direction. Someone, conveniently enough, like the kind of person who writes sniffy newspaper columns complaining about the vulgarity of popular culture.
The irony is that America is also the tops for high culture. America boasts the world's greatest galleries and museums. The second half of the 20th century was indisputably the age of the America novel. American also produces the best television in the world.
And while European soccer remains blighted by terrace violence and racism, American sport is a family-oriented affir with its marching, cheerleaders and pre-match tailgate parties.
We should love America because so many of the things which make modern life exciting, appealing and worthwhile come from there. The ancestors of almost everyone reading this piece do not appear in the history books. We were a peasant people and it was people like us who made America... America was the country where the Irish became winners instead of losers. It was the place where the culture of the masses was the culture that mattered. And it still is. America rocks.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, on why Irish people should love America, "Sunday Indo" (Feb'07)

2007 is the year when our national media decides to dub immigrant workers "The New Irish", although the hordes of Irish who went over the water during the depressed days of the 1980s would have blown a gasket had someone called them "The New English". New legislation designed to promote multi-culturalism makes it compulsory for any article about Paddy's Day to include a picture of a black child in a green top and for all newspapers to include a feature by someone from Eastern Europe observing that the Irish drink too much. Because, as anyone who's ever been to Prague, Tallinn or Warsaw knows, people from Eastern Europe are practically pioneers.
After much ado about nothing, the opposition to England playing Ireland in the rugby international at Croke Park boils down to a few saddos standing in the rain in Drumcondra. The best joke of the year comes when a young genius in a Celtic jersey explains to the world's media that he is against foreign games. Foreign journalists, who don't realise that in this country we're supposed to take this kind of bullshit seriously, injure themselves with the laughter. Meanwhile, everyone keeps self-importantly quiet during God Save The Queen and a few of our players follow the big fashion of the year by crying during the national anthem.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, reflecting on 2007, "Sunday Indo"

The Irish have their own god, about whom they are every bit as fanatical as the most earnest Kandahar flag-burner. We don't believe in nothing: we believe in Property, particularly its manifestation on earth in the shape of a mystical ladder... obsessive devotion to the Property Ladder drives the Irish economy. The nation's wage slaves are persuaded to sacrifice their lives by property-supplement front-page leads which tell of a mysterious realm where small terraced houses in Dalkey fetch several million euros... all over the country, middle-class shanty towns have sprung up. No amount of debriefing can persuade the residents that they have not landed a terrific bargain by bagging a house which leaves them with a mere four-haour round trip to work every day. This, apparently, is the good life... what we are currently enjoying in Ireland is the American Fifties.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, "The New Sacred Cows", "The Sunday Independent"

The greatest orgy of delayed gratification in Irish history... We like to linger over the SSIAs, because they have the unique ability to male us feel both indulgent and virtuous in equal measure. It has undoubted religious undertones, connecting us with our ancient instincts in that regard. It is like Communion money, but better, because in many cases we actually worked for it. But we probably had a better idea of how to spend our Communion money than our SSIA money. Our instincts were better, we had no fear.
        - Declan Lynch on the SSIA scheme, "The Sunday Independent"

The births and deaths columns of the paper allow us to compare, at a glance, names in the New Ireland with those from old Ireland. Ireland of the death notices has very few names. It is habited by Maureens, Pats, Joans, Marys, Michaels, Johns and Joes. We had run of the mill names, for run of the mill people. These were traditional names reflecting a common culture where it would be pretentious to draw attention to the child by calling him something out of the ordinary. In contrast, birth notices are brimming with Aoifes, Sophies, Amelias, Daniels and Bens. Where have all the Susans, Anns, Deirdres, Louises, Sharons, Catherines, Carolines, Lisas and Jennifers gone? They have been usurped by a slew of Emmas, Sarahs, Aoifes, Ciaras, Katies, Sophies, Rachels, Chloes, Amys and Leahs.
Traditional English rose names like Emma, Sophie and Amy are now in vogue, yet so too are old Irish names like Ciara and Aoife. While ironically during a period when the Irish Jewish community has shrunk, Jewish names such as Leah, Sarah and Rachel all make it into the top 10. How does a name become popular, while another one fall off the radar screen? Evidence from the US explains that "successful" sounding names have a 15-year cycle before they fall away and become common.
        - David McWilliams, "Names and Social Climbing", "The Irish Independent"

Food is the new class and snobbery always finds an out. The culinary bourgeoisie have staked their claim to the dinner table. Ingredients are the weapons with which they are beating off the unwashed masses, the benchmark by which they measure their evolutionary distance from those for whom an evening meal is 'tea' and always includes a helping of McCain Over Chips. They cleave to buzzwords as if they are gospels. Organic, farmers market; locally produced — these are the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of their Epicurean morality and the means by which they distinguish themselves from the philistines whose diets have them damned.
        - Julia Molony, in "The Sunday Independent"

Ireland is perhaps the most class-conscious country in Europe. We need no royal family nor peerage to maintain the social and cultural Berlin Walls which separate Dublin 4 and 6, home of all those self-regarding middle-class Labour voters, from Darndale and Coolock, where gun crime is now rampant.
        - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"

The lines between the classes, between old and middle aged, urban and rural, native and foreign, rich and poor, are disappearing before our eyes. A working-class boy can move to middle-class Blackrock and enjoy cappuccinos served by foreign nationals whose children are excellent hurlers.
        - Tom Dunne, reviewing "The Pope's Children" by David McWilliams, "Evening Herald"

On the one side of the gate was early 1970s Ireland. On the other side was a CS Lewis-type wonderland in which victory in the War of Independence was still very much in the balance.
        - Tom Dunne, recalling his schooldays in St. Michael's CBS, "Evening Herald"

Once it was social suicide to have sex outside of marriage. Now it's social suicide to not have sex outside of marriage... It's the 'Ballroom of Romance' in reverse — people are having sex but feeling lonely.
        - Medh Ruane, on changing times in Ireland, "Irish Ind."

Emily O'Reilly reckons sex, alcohol and money are no substitute for religion. Nobody ever said they were. But as many Irish priests have eagerly demonstrated down the years, why choose one when you can have all four?
         - Eilis O'Hanlon, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"

Like it or not, Catholic moral teaching is clear on what it does and does not stand for. The kind of people who would defend to the death the right of Muslim husbands to inflict the burqa on their women find it far less forgivable that Catholic clergy should actually (shock, horror) promote Catholic doctrine. The problem with the Irish Catholic church was not that it was repressive but that it was hypocritical... it was engaged in a mass cover-up of sex crime committed by its own employees... There was one shot at redemption, an opportunity to show that the Irish church was an instrument of God, rather than of power. When the question of compensation came up, the church should have volunteered to pay the full whack... Instead the hierarchy thought about saving money and CORI cut a dodgy deal with the Government, aided by Bertie Ahern... Some church figures and apologists are prone to lamenting the decline in religious observance in this country and the hole left in the national soul. But the hierarchy have only themselves to blame. The Irish people did not turn away from Catholicism willingly; they had to be driven away from it.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"

An Irish athiest is one who wishes to God he could believe in God.
        - John Mahaffy

I'm not a religious man, I don't even believe in God. But I’m still Catholic, of course. Catholicism has a much broader reach than just the religion. I’m ethnically Catholic, it’s the box you have to tick on the census form: 'Don’t believe in God, but I do still hate Rangers.' The fact is that it’s a shared hinterland between me and every other Irish person, a collection of references that we all understand, stories we all know...  Once you've started Catholic, frankly, there's no realy way to stop being Catholic... It’s like a huge club you can’t ever leave.
        - Dara O'Briain, "The Word"

There are three states of legality in Irish law, there is all this stuff which comes under "that's grand", then it moves into "ah now dont push it", and finally it comes under "right now you're takin the piss", and thats when the police come in.
        - Dara O'Briain

Director John Boorman seems to be suggesting that we have 'lost' some essential part of ourselves in our rush to lag our jackets, which in turn implies there is some golden period in our recent history. What decade is that, I wonder? ...Being lectured to from a mansion in the mountains about how much nicer we were when we were poor is a little hard to take.
        - Paul Whittington, reviewing "Tiger's Tail", "The Irish Independent"

Denial of population weight gain is a bit like denying that the Holocaust took place, but there are growing concerns that science and statistics are being devised, cherry-picked and blown out of all proportion to suit a particular agenda. I would argue that the way we define overweight and obese adults is hopelessly flawed. According to the World Health Organisation, the vast majority of the current Irish rugby team have serious weight problems. Even Brian O'Driscoll, perhaps the greatest athlete on any world rugby pitch today, is officially overweight, according to the Dept. of Health.
        - Dr. Maurice Gueret, writing in "The Sunday Independent"

According to the accepted measure of establishing a person's Body Mass Index (BMI), Brad Pitt is 'overweight' and George Clooney is 'obese'. The problem is that health advice is only ever dispensed in a "one size fits all" basis. You must be within the BMI range of normalcy, or you will die horribly. You must stop drinking more than the recommended weekly units, or you will end up like George Best... aren't we all supposed to be dead by now?
        - Eilis O'Hanlon, "The Sunday Independent"

Even as Irish ecotourism kicks off, the ancient Irish war cry of "What's in it for me?" can be heard.
        - Eoghan Corry, "The Evening Herald"

Labour councillor Andrew Montague is urging Dublin City Council to provide a fleet of free-to-use bicycles for the capital. A scheme very similar to the one proposed is working well in Copenhagen. However, as Garret FitzGerald pointed out some years back: "Whatever else we are in this country, we are not Danes." In Copenhagen, people will wait obediently for a green light at a pedestrian crossing, even if the street is empty because it's 4am on Christmas Day during a petrol strike. In Ireland, if something's not nailed down, someone will try to steal it — or else nail it down. Either one is good to a certain mentality. The evidence sheet is long and shameful.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

Scanger or skanger is a derogatory term for the stereotypical member of a youth subculture group in Ireland (especially in the larger cities). Scangers bear a lot of resemblance to what are called chavs in Britain. Scangers are similar to chavs in numerous ways, sharing similar dress and lifestyle, but have various indigenous identifying features. Scangers tend to obtain alcohol from off-licensed premises, partly due to many pubs' refusal of entrance to this social grouping and, partly, due to the high cost of alcohol in Irish bars. Scangers instead, prefer to drink on public buses, beaches, fields and parks and under railway bridges. This behaviour is commonly referred to as "Knacker Drinking" (pronounced "nakoh dreenkin"), or "goin' on the knack". Male scangers tend to drink either Dutch Gold (or simply "Dutch"), Bavaria or Tuborg lager, while the female scanger will generally prefer Vodka or other such spirits. Groups of scangers are often characterized by an informal hierarchy. The alpha male usual follows the title of "the man". He is distingushable as he has the most 'right-angled' gait, the whitest trainers, the loudest and most obnoxiously colourful Honda Civic, the I.D. for the purchasing of alcohol, and connections within clandestine circles.
        - from the Wikipedia entry for "Scanger"

"You scum don't have the fear of God. All that's left is the iron rod."
        - Fatima Mansions, "Only Losers Take The Bus"

It just seems sad to me. Have people become so constrained and lacking in ambition that everything they want to do in life can be done in pyjamas?
        - Peter O'Brien, on Ireland's pyjama zombies

This column was in our local shop a few months back when one of those charming pyjama zombies came in and sat down on the floor. After she loudly complained that "my bleedin' hole is freezin', and I'm not wearing any knickers", she turned with fury to a Chinese lad who was rightly laughing at her, and demanded to know of him: "What are you fooken lookin' at, Mohammed?" Honestly, what is this country coming to when our racist scum seem so ignorant of the appropriate insult?
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

There can be few better times of the year than Hallowe'en. You get to call into strange houses and demand sweets with menaces from the inhabitants, you're allowed to attend ridiculously dangerous bonfires in the company of hordes of drunken, violent teenagers who are intent on burning the city to the ground and if you're really lucky, you might manage to escape serious injury after fannying about with dangerous and illegal fireworks.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

Sean Hughes' joke about Down Syndrome children was sick in the extreme. Are today's entertainers so bereft of talent that they need to attack the vulnerable and handicapped for cheap laughs?
        - Maurice Aherne, from Cork, with a letter to the Irish "News of the World"

"They can patter like rain, roar like thunder, foam like the sea, sting like the frost, sigh like the wind, and of top of all that you'll never catch them boasting."
        - A Kerryman explains to John B Keane how the elements encourage them to be articulate

You know it's summer in Ireland when the rain gets warmer.
        - Hal Roach

Here is the weather forecast. First of all, the new front moving in here into Connacht from the Atlantic will bring showery conditions in the west. These will last much of the morning, before they give way to some fairly steady rain. In the early afternoon, this will be replaced by a vicious drizzle followed by heavy showers. By evening time, these showers will be succeeded by a downpour, which will last through to midnight, which will see high winds accompanied by a powerful deluge. The winds will die down at dawn, but the rain will intensify for several hours afterwards. Fortunately, this will gradually ease off and give way to a persistent downpour, interrupted by the occasional cloudburst, accompanied by strong gales. The situation is quite different in Ulster, where the low front which will bring so much rain to Connacht, will cause merely light but persistent rainfall, followed by heavy showers, with the occasional drizzle in between. In time, these different weather patterns will merge into a single steady downpour, succeeded later on by a fairly bitter drizzle. However, in east Donegal, the overnight torrents will be succeeded by a continuous deluge, relieved only by the occasional strong shower...
        - Kevin Myers, "A Nation Under The Weather", "The Irish Independent"

Last Saturday, more rain fell on Dublin in one 24-hour period than in the entire life's work of Frank McCourt. What can it all mean? Can we weather the storm? Will we ever talk about anything else again? There is the sense that something preternatural or elementally dark is going on. It's starting to feel biblical, this dampening and dousing, but it isn't washing away our iniquities... We await the arrival of the ESB bill as our ancestors once awaited Cromwell... What a contrast with the golden light of remembered childhood Augusts, when the sun blazed constantly, Hibernian skies were baby-blue, and summertime childcare consisted of being told to get out of the house.
But is the weather truly that bad? OK, I know it is.We smell like an old dog. We feel the same way. A soundtrack of coughs and splutters plays all through the land. We are mildewed, moist, waterlogged and windswept, like something the Celtic Tiger dragged in before disappearing into extinction... But it brings us together, this communal wringing-out. It's like the Blitz for Londoners. It unites us. The Gods may be mocking us with weapons of precipitation, conjuring up Old Testament floods and horizontal deluges, but somehow it suits us. We know we can handle it...
The other morning I was walking Dun Laoghaire seafront when the sky went dark. Five seconds later, I was soaked. You couldn't call it "rain" or anything so namby-pamby. It was as though a celestial river had burst its banks and I was standing in the power-shower of Jupiter. I managed to shelter by pressing myself hard against a memorial plinth to Queen Victoria... and I have to tell you, I wasn't unhappy. There's a beauty in watching rain fall into a grey Irish sea or into the eddying gurgle of an Irish river. The sound of it smacking leaves. The smell of rain in the air. And the pleasure of hearing rain against a windowpane at night through the comforting mists of half-sleep. OK, so it isn't Malibu. But would you really want it to be?
But, as terrible weather goes, we could be a lot worse off. We don't have tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, twisters, raging droughts, famines. Perhaps we should dry up and learn to love the downpour.
        - Joseph O'Connor, during the damp summer of 2008, "The Sunday Ind."

Rain like this really isn't normal and don't let anyone tell you it is. It only rained for 40 days ad 40 nights in the Bible and they still talk about it 2000 years later... There are two possible scenarios at play here. The first is that we have entered some Biblical endgame. The Bible is big on disasters and as end of the world scenarios go rain is pretty mild... The other scenario is that we are living through the opening chapters of a new Stephen King novel. It would be helpful at this point if you have read The Stand, but if you haven't it's probably just as well as Stephen King endgames make the Bible look like Barney. If it is a Stephen King endgame there's not much you can do... The only good thing to be taken from all this is that we are probably living through the worst summer ever in the history of the world and this at least will give us some bragging rights in the years to come... We have rain like no one else in the world and we have it when everyone else traditionally has good weather... Yes, it's important to remember in all this that we are Irish.
        - Tom Dunne, "Let There Be Flood", "The Evening Herald" (Aug'08)

Gripe water... the ancient water, the ancient and hugely respected giver of peace to babies. A product talked about in hushed reverence by generations of Irish parents. A product now inexplicably removed from Irish shelves... gripe water is actually harder to get than illegal drugs. More in demand too, I suspect. Later I cruised the Rock Road in the Beamer asking anyone in a hoodie if they knew where I could score some gripe water but it wasn't to be.
        - Tom Dunne, "The Evening Herald"

Last week, Google disclosed that the word “lonely” is entered more frequently by internet users in Ireland than anywhere else. The methods some use to cure their loneliness were also divulged: Castlebar has the greatest number of trawls for “porn”, Portlaoise scores highest in the search for “sex” and Dundalk has the most people looking for “love”.
        - Liam Fay, "The Sunday Times"

"I walked a girl home after a ceili when we were at the Gaeltacht but it didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped. She only agreed to come with me so she could tell me that her friend fancied me but I didn't fancy her friend, I fancied her. It was all a bit like 'A Month in the Country', when you think about it."
      - Don Wyhcherley, recalling his first date in "The Irish Independent"

"In Wexford, we never used the expression 'date'. We used the word 'shift', which meant to get off with somebody. I remember kissing a certain girl at a disco when I was 16. Shre was a lovely redhead. I can remember her well, but I'll spare her the blushes."
        - Padraic Delaney, "The Irish Ind."

"The Gaeltacht when I was 14 and it's all a bit of a blur. I think I probably had no choice in the matter, it was a coming-of-age ritual there. But I do remember that situations that would have seemed awkward in the outside world, and did seem awkward when I got home, were amazingly easy in this unique microcosm."
        - John Kelly, recalling his first date in "The Irish Independent"

Some of us were sent to the Gaeltacht, to learn the Modh Coinníollach and snogging. Indeed, my own first kiss occurred on a sun-drenched Spiddal Beach, a beautiful experience only slightly marred by the fact that the girl involved, a local, was wearing a dental brace, in which the tip of my tongue got stuck at a passionate moment. We tottered around that beach, bonded by something more than love. Indeed, my eyes still water whenever I hear Irish spoken. People sometimes think it's national pride.
        - Joseph O'Connor, "The Sunday Ind."

"In Ballinasloe when I was 16 I spotted this beautiful girl helping out in her father's shop and I became a regular visitor. There was a teen dicso with nuns lining the walls and we saw each other from opposite sides of the hall. But it took another 6 months and the knowledge of the entire village before we actually managed to go to the pictures together. I can't remember anything other than a feeling of pure fear. Our first kiss was outside the library and I floated home."
        - Sean Moncrieff, on his first date in "The Irish Independent"

"There was one boy I used to chase around our back garden when I was 7. He was a neighbour and a year younger than me. I did eventually catch him and then I had no interest or idea what to do. It was all about the chase."
        - Shayron Hobbs, on her first romance in "The Irish Independent"


"He's sad. It's happy hour. We're Irish. Do the math, Dad."
        - Terry Fitzgerald, in the Irish American drama "The Fighting Fitzgeralds"

"It was reported this week that the government of Ireland wants to ban smoking in all the country's
pubs. Today, the Irish parliament said, 'Sorry, when we proposed that, we were really drunk.'"
       - Conan O'Brien, "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"

Informed by the vintners that more pubs meant more alcoholic problems, Eddie Hobbs went to Athy, which has the highest concentration of pubs in Ireland, and tried to find even one drunk person on the streets.
        - John Boland, from his TV Review of "Rip Off Republic", fronted by Eddie Hobbs

You can take our freedom, but you can never take our drink! It's the sacred place of the pint in Irish culture again.
        - Eilis O'Hanlon, on rural reaction to enforced drink driving laws, "Sunday Indo"

Bring back the horse-drawn carriage. The man at the bar might have had a few too many but the horse was sober and reliably knew the way home.
        - Mary Kenny, on a retro solution to rural drinking, "Irish Ind."

"To get enough to eat was regarded as an achievement. To get drunk was a victory."
        - Brendan Behan, remembering tough times

When the drop is inside the sense is outside.
        - Old Irish proverb

"When people say you're mad here it's a compliment."
        - Daniel Day Lewis, on living in Ireland

"There's only one thing worse than The Drink, Father, and that's The Thirst."
        - A parisioner, after a lecture from his parish priest on the 'Demon Drink'

Monday: It's the day after Sunday, you can't be expected to do much that day. Tuesday: Bear in mind that doing nothing on Monday has got you out of the 'work groove' and you're pretty tried from waking up two days in a row. Wednesday: It's nearly Thursday, there's not much point in starting something new. Thursday: The real weekend. You will probably drink tonight , ergo it's the weekend. Friday: Work? After all that drink last night? Are you mad?
        - A typical Irish week from Today FM

As best as I can determine, there is a ritual in Ireland. When you offer to buy someone a drink in a pub, the person must refuse, because it would be unseemly to accept. You must offer twice more before the person can accept. If you think the initial refusal actually means a refusal, and don't pursue the issue, your offer was obviously insincere.
       - William Sjostrom, "Atlantic Blog"

It's important to get the beers in early so everyone can see you're not a cheapskate, before others join you, or, more dangerously, you move on to more expensive premises or drnks. And rounds of over six drinks are generally ill-advised — if you need to write down the order, you can't afford it.
    - Conor Creighton, on the etiquette of 'rounds', "Totally Dublin"

It is hard to know what else MEAS could do to convince the critics they're serious in their disapproval of excessive alcohol, short of walking up and down outside Doheny & Nesbitt's wearing placards with the words "Doomed, Doomed, You're All Doomed" written in black ink across the front as a warning to drinkers inside... Are things really that bad? There's definitely much more anti-social behaviour on the streets than ever before. People now generally have few manners, or none at all. But the Ireland of 2005 still looks a damn sight more appealing than the Ireland of 1985, or 1965, or 1945. There are not many people who, if given the choice, are going to answer: "Take me back to the Fifties please. Yes, we were all miserable, repressed, unhealthy, priest-ridden and poor, but at least on a Friday night you didn't see tearful young women in mini skirts slumped in doorways, singing I Will Survive and clutching bottles of alcopops". The drunken teens will all still end up with nine-to-five jobs, mortgages, pension plans, kids, and an ocean of regrets. In fact, it might well be that knowledge which turns them to drink in the first place.
        - Eilis O'Hanlon, on MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society), "Sunday Independent"

The Strategic Task Force on Alcohol report pointed out that in 2001 Irish booze consumption per head was the second highest in Europe... but as a proportion of the population, Ireland has the largest number(32%) of young people of peak drinking age of any European country. It was the combination of a large and growing number of young adults, along with increased affluence, which set the stage for the large increase in alcohol consumption per adult over the past decade.
...If, as the task force argues, higher taxes cut consumption, why, with the highest excise duties in Europe do we also have the second-highest consumption?
        - Dan White, "Tax no Solution to Booze Culture", "The Evening Herald"

One-third of money spent on alcohol in Ireland goes to the Government, according to a survey by the alcohol industry. The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland says more than €2bn was paid in tax on alcoholic drinks last year. It says Ireland has one of the most heavily taxed alcohol industries in Europe, with beer tax 10 times higher than Germany and seven times higher than in France.
        - Seen on

Underpinning many of the 78 recommendations (by the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol) to government is the notion that the state’s policy priority should be a reduction in the overall level of alcohol consumption. Hence the proposals to make booze more difficult and expensive for everybody to purchase through increased taxation and the limiting of outlets. Put into effect, such measures might well have the desired effect but would probably do little to curb the damage caused by excess drinking. A drop in the national consumption rate does not necessarily entail a reduction in the widespread abuse of alcohol by individuals. Indeed, in a situation where prices increase and availability narrows, the likelihood is that modest and infrequent tipplers will be the first to change their habits. Serious bingers will always be prepared to go to greater lengths to circumvent such obstacles. Attempts either to tax or coerce heavy drinkers into sobriety are doomed to failure. They are usually no more than quick-fix responses designed to take the bad look off the statistics rather than improve the underlying reality.
        - Liam Fay, "Fuzzy Logic of the Campaign Against Booze", "The Sunday Times"

"Drunks are irresponsible; the only way you change that is by forcing responsibility on to them, not removing it. Anti-social people incapable of self-control will not be put off by having fewer places to buy alcohol; they will not be put off by alcohol outlets closing earlier. The only way we will reduce the level of drunken violence on our streets at night is by imposing the rule of law, stringently, mercilessly, and incessantly."
        - Emer O'Kelly, "Time to put the onus on drinkers, not the pubs", "The Sunday Ind"

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem. But it won't be solved just by politicians bringing in a few more restrictions. Look at Sweden, which has some of the most restrictive licensing laws in Europe, and there are still 35,000 illegal stills brewing moonshine. Curbing liquor begins with the inner man — and woman — and it takes a bit more lateral, and imaginative, thinking to get to that person inside.
        - Mary Kenny, "The Irish Ind."

The United Drunkdom of Britain and Ireland.
        - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"

"Many 20 and 30-somethings can't afford to buy a house, so they're not doing what previous generations did, which was when they reached 25, they started to save for their own homes.
Now there's no point doing that so they have disposable money which they spend on instant gratification. They say 'I'm 25 and can't invest the money. I may as well blow it and have a good time.'"
        - Professor Cary Cooper, linking house prices and alcohol consumption

After checking out the facts, we discovered that, yes, drinking four pints is now considered binge drinking by the Department of Health. Four pints? Four bloody pints? It's no wonder so many people don't pay a blind bit of notice to what the insufferable prigs in power have to say these days.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "Feel more guilty! Take no pleasure from life!", "The Irish Independent"

Drinking won't end when we have the Eat Your Greens All-Ireland Hurling Championship. Not a whelp last week about Le Heineken Cup. Not a whimper about Celtic's Carling shirts. Not a question about politicians (from the Taoiseach down) opening pubs seven days a week. The wider culture is the problem.
        - Tom Humphries, "The Irish Times" (2003)

"There are two things in Ireland that would drive you to drink. GAA referees would drive you to drink, and the price of drink would drive you to drink."
        - Sligo fan overheard at the 2002 Connacht Final

So long as we cling to the notion that the “unique selling point” of Irishness is drunken fun, there is little chance of whipping up disapproval of excess drinking. At the root of this attitude is low national self-esteem. Take away the drink, we fear, and we won’t be witty or charming at all.
        - Brenda Power, "The Sunday Times"

If we had a month without drink... some people would realise how boring they are and do something about it; Some people would face up to the fact that the reason the pub was a refuge was that they didn't want to be at home; Chippers wouldn have to come up with marketing campaigns.
        - John Masterson, "The Sunday Independent"

An elderly woman was charged with putting a brick through the window of an off-licence and extracting a bottle of whiskey. She had barely time to discover that the display bottle contained only water when she was arrested. She explained that she'd wanted whiskey for her weak heart.
        - story from a regional Munster newspaper picked up in "The Irish Independent"

Irish people don't travel abroad to experience new cultures and mix with their foreign counterparts. They travel abroad to congregate together in familiar surroundings and get drunk. It makes complete sense when you think about it. Irish people love Ireland but they hate the Irish weather. Imagine that you could take all your friends and a large group of like-minded Irish people and transport them to a magical place where every day the sun shines and every night you all drink together in a bar decorated with Guinness memorabilia and fake Irish road signs.
        - Dan's Guide to visiting Irish bars on holidays, "Evening Herald"

The vast majority of people will welcome Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern's introduction of €100 on-the-spot fiens for public drunkeness. However, the Republic is a rights-based democracy, so the vast majority of people have no rights in this matter. What actually matters is the Human Rights Act 2003, which grants anyone facing civil or criminal sanction the presumption of innocence and the right to a public hearing before an impartial tribunal. On-the-spot fines thus breach the Human Rights Act, as the Irish Human Rights Commission will point out shortly. The Human Rights Act also forbids punishment for actions that are not an offence at the time of their commission. Because it is not an offence to drink, it is arguably not an offence to become drunk, as the obnoxious son of a barrister will point out loudly... Certain diseases and medications can cause the appearance of drunkenness, which could lead to harassment of people with disabilities. Discrimination against people with disabilities and harassment in general are also outlawed by the Equal Status Act, as both the Equality Authority and the National Disability Authority will point out shortly.
Alcoholism is recognised as a medical condition by the Department of Health and each Health Service Executive area must treat it as a mental health service under the Health Act 2004. On-the-spot fines thus discriminate against the mentally ill, as the National Disability Authority will point out shortly.
Anyone receiving an on-the-spot fine for public drunkenness has one month to pay up before acquiring a criminal record. This discriminates against those who cannot afford the fine, as CORI and the Combat Poverty Agency will point out shortly. The public will expect on-the-spot fines to be used against marauding gangs of aggressive young men. However, these are the very last people gardaí will take on, as a Garda Commissioner will not point out shortly.Thanks to human rights law, equality requirements, disability awareness, anti-poverty issues and the obnoxious sons of barristers, any garda coming across a drunk in public has only one option. Just Taser them.
        - Newton Emerson, in "The Irish Times" (Sept'08)

[Quotes from a series of revealing radio ads promoting pubs by the Licensed Vintners' Association]

Come 430 on a Friday, one question pre-occupies office workers the country over: 'Are you going to the pub?' You never need ask which pub, because it's your Friday night pub and everyone knows it, except for management — which is good; because things need to be said which, bless them, they shouldn't hear. You see as the evening wears on and ties are loosened, followed by tongues, and eventually by morals, one by one every grievance is aired... Here in the safe environs of the pub, opinions can be uttered that would get you all fired if it was Monday — and then the economy would collapse. See? These nights are vital to the continued prosperity of the nation. So when asked if you're going to the pub this Friday, it's your patriotic duty to say 'Yes'. And if you don't go, who do you think they're gonna talk about?

Saturday nights, on this night Dublin pubs are alive and buzzing with the young, free and single, or at least those who claim to be young,  free and single... Skirts are shorter, tan is faker and cleavage is more uplifted and separated than on any other day of the week... Anything can happen down the pub on a Saturday night, and the day you stop thinking that's a good thing, go get your buspass gramps because you are officially old.

In other aspects of his life, he may be dumber than a bucket of hair, but ask a Dubliner where to go for a pint, and you'll see true intelligence. You see knowing the names, locations and layouts of literally hundreds of pubs, like we all do, takes awesome smarts.

The Christmas lasts all of December, and is mostly spent in the pub. Maybe it's a cosy pub, with sparkly lights and a fire in the corner gently smouldering; or a trendy joint, with sparkling cocktails and a hottie in the corner, gently smouldering... Come December, that part of the female brain that moderate behaviour and controls spending (the Eddie Hobbs cortex) gets switched off, and the next thing you know, we're wearing miniskirts in 2-degree weather and dancing on bars... And if in the process of raising the roof we raise a few eyebrows, remember that the pub at Christmas is the most forgiving place on earth...


An occasion when Irish people around the world start drinking before daylight, sing the kind of rebel songs that would make a drunken Celtic fan blush with shame and generally behave in a manner which befits the old Punch magazine characterisation of the Irish... In fact, today's children probably won't even believe your tales of the time when the main attraction of the parade was the sight of hypothermic American cheerleaders dropping their batons because they had lost all feeling in their fingers.
        - Ian O'Doherty, on the rituals of St Patrick's Day, "The Irish Independent"

Irish Americans Gear Up For "The Reinforcin' O' The Stereotypes."
        - Onion headline on St Patrick's Day

Fifty years ago today the feast of St Patrick, the national saint, was a major church event at the centre of an austere and puritanical country that was eloquently described by the writer Sean O Faolain as "a dreary Eden". As devout Catholic women and their children duly flocked to Mass in their parish churches and collected their shamrocks blessed by their priests, many upstanding men looked despairingly at their watches, cursing silently to themselves that the pubs were closed for the day. In Cork, the formidable Bishop Connie Lucey was the main speaker at the Lord Mayor's annual luncheon in honour of St Patrick. As was his wont, Bishop Lucey was in combative humour. "The fact that St Patrick's Day is celebrated in so many countries outside Ireland is not so much to our glory as to our shame," he thundered to the discomfort of the worthy City Fathers.
        - The Irish Independent, on an Ireland of churches and emigration (17 Mar'06)

In this age of multiculturalism, St. Paddy's Day reminds everyone from schoolkids to recent immigrants that white people have culture, too, and the Irish are lucky enough to have been singled out for providing this lesson.
        - Bridget Johnson, in America's "National Review"

Witness the phenomenon of St Paddy's Day when increasing amounts of people behave not like Irish people but like Americans pretending to be Irish people, in the name of authenticity.
        - Will Hanafin, "Sunday Ind."

A bunch of scumbags go on the rampage in Finglas, and, as it turns out, it wasn't their fault at all. According to the wishy-washies in the poverty industry, beating up people and hijacking their cars on St Patrick's Day is a cry for help from the dispossessed proletariat... When we were poor, we couldn't use poverty as an excuse for bad behaviour. But now that there are fewer of is struggling to make ends meet, it's perfectly okay to blame everyone else... It's society's fault. Or it's the fault of booze... If any of the Finglas rioters are literate and reading this, we're actually showing you more respect than the poverty whingers. Because they think you're different to the rest of us; that you're some sort of sub-class that shouldn't be helds accountable for your actions.
        - The Sunday World, after the 2008 riots


The truth is that films like Ken Loach’s "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" that glamorise the IRA give a retrospective justification to a movement which used murderous violence to achieve its ends, even though the democratic path was always open to it. They help legitimise the actions of gangsters who have been torturing innocents for decades, and lend enchantment to an organisation which aspires to govern part of the UK although it remains enmeshed in criminality.
        - Michael Gove, "The Times"

"The Wind that Shakes the Barley" is a gusty movie. It blows erratically one minute, powerfully and cogently the next. It makes a pantomime opposition of Ireland’s early-century struggle – we all but boo and hiss each entry of the Black and Tans. But the film is transformed, like the conflict, after the signing of the Irish Free State agreement. A fresh war begins on screen between two sides equal in their passion, idealism and ruthlessness: the Irish and the Irish. When their internal argument begins bet-ween taking the shilling of negotiated freedom and pressing for true and final liberty, we are in virtually virgin territory.
        - Nigel Andrews, "The Financial Times"

Loach explicitly sets out to make what he calls political films and what I would call propaganda films. The director of any movie decides its total aesthetic and political approach. Ken Loach directed The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Ken Loach is British. So at some level The Wind that Shakes the Barley is serving British interests. Looking at Loach's public statements it is specifically serving the interests of the British left. there is a long tradition of British luvvies using Irish issues to settle internal British scores. Doing so also involves giving a soft ride to the IRA and distorting the democratic desires of the Irish people. In his public statements on The Wind that Shakes the Barley Loach has not claimed the film is anti-war or aimed at promoting peace in Ireland. Instead he has used it as a platform to settle scores with Tony Blair about Iraq. Leaving aside the leftist posturing I find this attitude profoundly patronising. Ignoring Ireland's real interests in order to promote a leftist line in British politics is neocolonialism by any name.
        - Eoghan Harris, "The wind that shakes the sneaking regarders", "Sunday Independent"

If there is a fault in Loach's film, it lies in the disjunct between the ultra-naturalist style, which allows characters to engage in authentically ragged political rows, and the schematic melodrama of the narrative which too neatly confronts both Damien and Teddy with mirroring moral dilemmas.
        - Mark Kermode, reviewing "The Wind that Shakes the Barley", "The Observer"

Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" offers unsubtle cues for anyone who might find the politics of its subject, early-1920s Ireland, a bit confusing. Halfway through, however, the goodies' side splits, and half the erstwhile heroes become villains. No danger of the viewer getting confused by this, though: Ken Loach gives a few gentle hints about who's who. The new bad chaps all put uniforms on, and they start shouting all the time (though they still don't swear). Another subtle clue is that in both halves of the film, only the good side includes any women. This is not, then, what you might call a complex, politically or morally nuanced film.
        - Stephen Howe, "Open Democracy"

As a critique of British imperialism, The Wind That Shakes the Barley makes Mel Gibson’s Braveheart look complex and nuanced. Isn’t it curious that the Loach crowd are the first to sneer at the simplistic good guy/bad guy world-view of the typical Hollywood blockbuster, but admire it when its target is the British Establishment? Here there are no shades of grey. There are good guys (IRA) and bad guys (the British), and when the good guys do bad things, they are still good guys because they kill people and feel guilty about it. Even in the second half, when the bad Brits depart, the good guys divide neatly into goodies and baddies, the latter being those who support the deal with the British.
        - Cosmo Landesman, "The Times"


Sir: I was shocked by the language of Molly McAnailly Burke's piece on lesbian rockers, and your allowing it in a family newspaper. The offending phrase "five writhing beauties hot for each other" should be "five writhing beauties hot for one another," since *each other* applies only to two.
        - Letter to the Editor of the Sunday Independent

"That's the problem with frozen embryos," said a legal expert yesterday. "They have no conception of anything."
        - Newton Emerson, commenting in his unique style in "The Irish Times"

"The existing road sign posting in Ireland is sometimes challenging, but it is altogether loveable in its uniqueness and Irishness."
        - German Claus Riepe, opposing plans for new sign posts, in a letter to the Irish Independent

"Now my main concern is to ensure the council takes its other duties to the street as seriously as it takes the destruction of people’s cars."
       - Anonymous Dublin Doctor, after his legally parked car is scrapped whilst on his honeymoon

"There are reports that the chickens are laying eggs on the road and conditions are slippery as a result."
        - AA Roadwatch, after lorry carrying 5000+ chickens overturns on N55 in Cavan

"After four years I have come to the conclusion that I have been used not as a consultant but as an unwitting participant in a masterplan to do nothing. I have lately concluded that this is exactly what the Irish government wants."
        - Dr Joshua Fishman, consultant on Irish language government program

The Government is outlawing thermonuclear terrorism after belatedly realising that it isn't a specific offence to blow this country to kingdom come. The strange gap in our legislation will be remedied next week. The Dail is scheduled to debate the Nuclear Test Ban Bill 2006, which decrees that "a person who carries out, or causes the carrying out of, a nuclear explosion in the State shall be guilty of an offence". If North Korea needs a remote and no-fault test site for its next test detonation, it should therefore act within the next seven days.
        - Senan Moloney, writing in "The Irish Independent" (Oct'06)

From Ireland Online's report on the conviction of a Tipperary man for attempted murder: "Sgt O'Riordan said that when Crowe was interview he asked gardaí what evidence they had against him. They told him he had been identified at the scene. Crowe replied "that's bullsh*t. Nobody saw me. I had a balaclava and gloves'."
        - Seen on Football365's Mediawatch column

When I told people in Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, "Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?"
        - Quentin Crisp

"There is a story that when incoming jets throttle back for the approach to Belfast's Aldergrove Airport, the pilots tell their passengers to put their watches back to local time: 1690".
        - Quoted by Russell Miller, 1980

"Socialism is worse than communism. Socialism is a heresy of communism. Socialists are a Protestant variety of communists."
        - Sermon given by priest in Dingle during 1969 elections

"What's all this about contraceptives? Didn't all of us come into the world without those things?"
         - Peter Barry, former Fine Gael Minister, recalling a conversation with an aunt

"If I was trying to get to where you want to go, I wouldn’t be starting from here."
        - Lengendary advice given by Irish farmer to person looking for directions

A t-axis of evil.
        -, coming up with a collective noun for taxi drivers

"The editorials read like they were written by an old woman sitting in a bath, with the water cooling around her."
        - Sean Lemass, letting fly at "The Irish Times"

"The referendum went as most people hoped it would."
        - Irish Times editorial on the democratic process

Many years of fighting on the island have infiltrated violence and terrorism into every segment of Irish society. Once the democratic regime was reinstated in 1990 the belligerent clerical situation calmed down, in part due to the visit of Her Excellency the President of the Republic of Ireland, Mrs Mary Robinson, and later of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Dick Spring. Now terrorist violence seems to be surfacing again. This violence has been part of Irish life since the turn of the century and goes back to serious disagreements between Eamon De Valera, who would later become President, and other officials who mistakenly thought that armed violence was to defeat Great Britain.
        - El Mercurio of Chile, with a bizarre view of Ireland in 1997

A survey conducted by MRBI in the 19th century showed that Irish people's favorite summer pastimes were: starving to death (41%), fighting the British (31%) and emigrating to Amerikay (24%). Three per cent were undecided.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, "The Sunday Independent"

"I dreamt that Mr. Haughey had recaptured Crossmaglen, but Garret got re-elected, and he gave it back again."
        - Christy Moore, "Delirium Tremens"

The 1900s: Last leprechaun dies.
The 1940s: In 1949 new Taoiseach, John A Costello, egged on by the boozed-up Prime Minister of Canada, declares Ireland a Republic for a dare during a state dinner in Montreal.
        - Damian Corless, from his alternative Irish history, "1916 And All That"

"No man is an Ireland."
        - Chicago Mayor Richard Daley

"You know that spike they're putting up on O'Connell Street? That's a spike through the soul of our nation's young people. And Satan sits atop it. There's only one man who can save us now - Jesus Christ."
        - Damien Owens recounts the taxi ride from hell, "The Irish Independent"

"There are evil people working in there. They are not of God."
        - Dr Michael Cox, Tridentine cleric, performing an exorcism at Leinster House (Irish Parliament)

"Has he made any demands?"
"Yes... the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima."
"What in the blazes is that?"
"That's a religious secret. It's not for me to say."
        - Albert Reynolds, as Transport Minister, relating to a reporter the demands of a plane hijacker

"When I heard there was a psychic involved I said I'm having nothing to do with it, for I don't believe in psychics."
        - Mother of disappeared woman Fiona Sinnott, upset at Gardai involving a psychic to find her

"That was the best magic trick ever — making a whole telecommunications company disappear."
        - Podge and Rodge, to magician Keith Barry on his Smart Telecom ads

"These days, Ireland feels at home in a world where we can send laser pulses 24 million kilometres to the planet Mercury..."
        - Enda Kenny, keynote speech to Fine Gael Ard Fheis (2006)

"What is or who is the ordinary man? I don't think anybody would ever satisfy all the requirements of the definitions of this ordinary man."
        - John Kennedy, answering critics of Cork's cultural programs in 2005

Tony Fenton has an amazing variety of ways of saying that you are sweating profusely but I have, after seeking legal advice, settled for "sweating like a dyslexic on Countdown" as the most acceptable one to communicate here. And I was!
        - Tom Dunne, recalling a trip to hospital with fellow DJ Tony Fenton, "Evening Herald"

"I read somewhere that HB hire kids with tiny heads for their ads. To make their ice-cream look bigger, like."
        - seen in Dublin's "Evening Herald"

"What have the English ever done for us? Apart from building the roads, the railways and 600 bleedin branches of Argos..."
        - The Man on the Luas, "The Irish Indepenedent"

"Teen sexual depravity shows lack of moral code... What is that girl doing in that picture?"
        - A teenage girl discusses an Evening Herald headline on the #20B bus

"We have our AGM before our christmas party — death by Power Point."
        - Overheard on the #130 bus

"Are you going past the Bleeding Horse?"
"Bleedin' am."
        - A tourist and an old-school bus driver on the #16 bus

At the next table, a middle-aged America woman is telling another middle-aged American woman that she should visit Temple Bar tonight: "Temple Bar is like... the New Orleans of Ireland."
My friend Scally raises a worried eyebrow. "Do you think she means pre- or post-Katrina?" he wonders.
        - Eoin Butler, reporting from O'Neills pub, "The Evening Herald"

"Jaysis! Did we land or were we f**kin shot down?"
        - Overheard on a Ryanair flight after landing in a crosswind at Dublin airport

"Look at her. Shrill, nagging little face. In Ireland this is what we thought Protestants looked like when we were growing up. Really pale and miserable and going on at you."
        - Dara O'Briain, sending dietician Gillian McKeith to "Room 101"

I love those girls in the Meteor ads. I'm not sure if I find them sexy or not, but their enigmatic mischievous grins are up there with the Mona Lisa as far as I'm concerned. Their highlight to date has been the 'Lapp' dancing.
       - Brendan O'Connor, "Sunday Independent"

The staff are sworn to secrecy, but rest assured that dancing children, a lovely jumper, some annoyingly precocious children and nervous parents will be involved.
        - James Stanley, previewing "The Late Late Toy Show", in Dublin's "Metro"

Christ, what are the chances of all these people talking Irish like that in real life? 'Star Trek' is more real than 'Ros Na Run', more plausible in every respect down to the alien creatures with slimy skin. They just might be out there somewhere, but the folks in 'Ros Na Run' could never exist. Never. And I mean that.
        - Declan Lynch quotes an unnamed source, "The Sunday Ind."

I find myself increasingly unable to listen to the Irish language. I have finally realised that I just don't like it, as a language. I don't like the sound of it. When I hear French, or Spanish, I think of wine-coloured days warmed by the sun; when I hear the gaeilgeoir's nasal whine, I think of children being tortured. But then that's just me... and a few million others who have studied Irish, and been left completely cold.
        - Declan Lynch, "The Sunday Ind."

If proof were needed that we are a more civilised society than we sometimes give ourselves credit for, nobody actually punched the head off Manchan Mangan, who went on a tour of Dublin for "No Bearla" (a genuinely pointless, indulgent and stupid program) to try to prove how hostile we are towards Irish and Irish speakers. In the end we had half an hour of Mangan bullying people around with words they didn't understand.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

Instead of trying to find out how much Irish is spoken in Ireland, perhaps Mangan should look a bit closer to home. How much Irish is spoken on TG4? The movies it shows are almost invariably in English, as are many of the dramas. And the ads that support the channel (along with our licence fees) are almost all in English. Surely Mangan would be better employed roaming the corridors of TG4 and pestering his own colleagues?
        - Chris Lowry, from his review of "No Bearla", "The Evening Herald"

Why do politicians keep saying that TG4 is a 'success'? What does that mean? This summer TG4 was watched at any given time by fewer than 3 in every 100 TV viewers, down in market share. In July its top 10 Irish-language programs were wactched on average by 53,000 viewers. Yet TG4 receives around €20 out of every €100 pf public money spent on TV in the Republic of Ireland. The most popular programs on TG4 are sport and English-language series such as "One Tree Hill" and "The OC". Take away these and the average viewing figures for TG4 drop considerably.
        - Column Kenny, "The Sunday Independent"

"They say that you judge a restaurant by its toilets and so too should RTE be judged by its programmes."
        - Risteard Cooper, launching RTE's Autumn 2007 schedule

Forget the Hollywood stars who turned up, forget Mel Gibson, Rene Russo and Colin Farrell — the real battle for honours at the fifth Irish Film and TV aawards was between RTE's Kathryn Thomas and TV3's Lorraine Keane. The titanic nature of this thrilling contest was conveyed in The IFTA Red Carpet Show (RTE2), even though we had witnessed the outcome the previous night on The IFTA Awards (RTE1). But never mind such cart-before-horse cockups because the red carpet half-hour will surely win awards for Montrose in some international comedy festival. I knew we were destined for a classic when I saw that it was being presented by Caroline Morahan, she of the Angelina Jolie lips, Jane Russell bosom and a PhD in frantic wittering... Caroline's co-presenter was someone called Aidan Power, not so blessed in the lips and body department but almost her match in mindless drivel... On the red carpet Caroline was hyperventilating in the presence of Mel Gibson, who looked bemused, and somewhat wary too, obviously not realising that Caroline was the last person on the planet who'd think of asking him incovenient questions about drunken anti-semitic outburts, far-right Catholicism or blood-soaked nationalist film fantasies... In the end Kathryn won the coveted prize.
        - John Boland, reviewing the 2008 IFTAs, "The Irish Independent"

90 minutes into Blood Of The Irish (RTE1), a two-part investigation into how our ancestors got here, presenter Diarmuid Gavin sat in an ocean-tossed currach and was suddenly convinced that these early migrants must have "come by boat". This was probably news to anyone who'd assumed that they'd arrived on a Ryanair flight, but to the rest of us it merely confirmed that, like Sybil Fawlty, Diarmuid's real subject was the bleedin' obvious... "Just who were the first Irish?" Diarmuid kept asking us as if we'd been constantly nodding off every time he'd previously put the question — an understandable assumption on his part, especially given the film's tedious unrelenting reliance on flashy editing and on dramatic reconstructions that involved actors dressed as Stone Age hippies traipsing morosely through bogs.
        - John Boland, "The Irish Independent"

"What we are doing is in the interest of everybody, bar possibly the consumer."
        - Aer Lingus spokesman.

Q: Do you support the overthrow of the Government by force, subversion or violence?
A: Violence.
        - Answer on a Job Application form

[10 phrases that will strike fear into most Irish people]
10. "Drink up now"
9. "Next up on our show tonight, an interview with Westlife"
8. "Hello son. I've a question about the computer..."
7. "Get your nose out of the glass!"
6. "I've been a taxi driver all my life. Aren't those blacks and refugees scumbags eh? Let me tell you about it."
5. "Martin Cullen is the Minister responsible"
4. "Julian and Timmy the dog"
3. "Give us a poem Michael D, go on"
2. "Hi! We're from Wisconsin and we're 6th generation relatives of yours. Can we stay?"
1. "An bhfuil cead agam dul amach, más é do thoil é?"
        - from "Planet Potato"

Wit is the last weapon one expects to see used in the guerrilla war between the far-left, environmentalist and anarchist factions that sputters away on the fringes of Dublin’s growing protest community. Last weekend, however, we caught a glimpse of a small but intrepid group that seemed determined to put the card into placard. A city-centre rally in support of the Rossport Five, the jailed Shell pipeline protesters, was heckled by a counter-demonstration staged by four young crusaders styling themselves as "pro-capitalists". Dressed in neat yuppie-wear, the capitalist bloc carried pickets bearing slogans such as: "Free trade, not farmers!", "You should be shopping!" and "What about our jeeps?" Nobody at the main demo seemed sure whether the gatecrashers were genuine capitalist cheerleaders or anti-capitalist double agents, though the shoddiness of their placards suggests the latter. Either way, the impertinent interlopers really seemed to annoy the various Green, Labour, Sinn Fein and independent TDs who have leapt aboard the Rossport bandwagon.
        - Liam Fay, "The Sunday Times"


Carrigstown exists in a parallel Dublin. No one said soaps had to be realistic, but at least the actors in Coronation Stret and Eastenders sound like that they're supposed to be: Mancs and Cockneys. In Fair City, even members of the same family seem to come from opposite ends of the solar system. Bela's older daughter sounds like she's just cartwheeled our of the Billie Barry School and into a job as an AA Roadwatch announcer, while the younger one appears to be auditioning for a 1930s Abbey Theatre production of 'Juno and the Paycock'. Nothing makes my teeth itch like some stage school-trained luvvie doing a bad Dublin accent.
        - Pat Stacey, in Dublin's "Evening Herald"

"I would rather enter a monastery and scrub floors for the rest of my life than go on a date with a shallow, narcissistic little prat like you."
        - Niamh lets Keith down gently in "Fair City"

"When I was your age we played football all day, with a real football, on real grass."
        - Damian to his playstation generation kid brother Mark, "Fair City"

"You know the way they talk about cars going from nought to 60 in 4 seconds? Well, Carol's face can go from politeness to barbaric savagery in 0.5 of a second."
        - The Gift Grub team, about "Fair City"

"We learn English from Fair City."
        - The Czechs lads, on why they watch telly in "Once"

Jared Leto's stab at a posh south Dublin accent in 'The Last of the High Kings' came so close to the real thing you could almost tell the bus route his character lived along.
        - Ed Power, commenting on the best Irish film accents for "The Irish Independent"

Heralded as an honest account of working-class Ireland... "The Commitments" banished the myth that all of Ireland is just like "Darby O'Gill and the Little People". It's only the West that's like that.
        - Evan Fanning, "The Look of the Irish", in "The Sunday Independent"

"Whenever the sun shone, Howth was the place that the northside loved the most."
        - Damien Dempsey, "They Don't Teach This Shit In School"

If you ever go to Dublin town in a hundred years or so
Inquire for me in Baggot Street and what I was like to know.
        - Patrick Kavanagh, "If You Ever Go To Dublin Town"

There are times when it seems that charities are everywhere, and walking down the average Dublin street is more of a charity collector-hurdle than a pleasant stroll.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

What's the world coming to when homegrown Irish beggars are being replaced by cheaper foreign imports?
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Ind."

Do Dublin Bus Ticket Inspectors Exist?
        - Topic on the Webforum

"The Howya System. When ya get to Dublin Airport, instead of showing them yer passport, you just say 'Howya'. The guards'll let ya straight through no problem."
        - Dublin's Evening Herald, on how to overcome a lost passport

Restaurant staff who continually interrupt your attempts to eat your food by asking if everything is to your satisfaction. Don't worry: if it's not you'll be able to tell by the size of the tip.
        - Pat Stacey, on irritants of modern life, "The Irish Independent"

You wouldn't call a restaurant Cafe Hitler nor Cafe Mugabe, so why name one after the equally unpleasant Chinese dictator? The latest in this cain of Asian fusion restaurants has just opened in Dundrum and is as noxious as its namesake... Chairman Mao was famously responsible for one of the worst famines in modern history and in this cafe his legacy clearly lives on.
        - Roz Britton, from her review of Cafe Mao in "The Metro"

I find that Chinese food suffers from what might be called the McDonald's Effect. That's the syndrome whereby you feel full halfway through your meal and then hungry half an hour after you've finished.
        - Chris Lowry, from his review of The Imperial in the "Evening Herald"

The basic product is good... but the most hellish thing about this restaurant is the service. It was truly abominable. There are species that could have been born, procreated and died in the time it took our food to arrive.
        - Aingeala Flannery, reviewing Hell Pizzeria, "Day & Night"

Over the past three decades, the complexion of the city's drinking establishments has changed beyond all recognition. In most cases this has been for the better, with even the hellhole that is Temple Bar at least having the effect of corralling the crowd that they this is a proper Irish drinking experience into clearly defined parameters, but there are times when one does miss the long-gone days of dear auld durty Dubbalin... the new White Horse Inn is a typical modern Dublin pub although one which doesn't appear to have gone so upmarket that it's disappeared up its own rear.
        - George Byrne, reviewing the renovated White Horse Inn, "Evening Herald"

It can be a difficult job reviewing pubs. It's not as reputable an occupation as say, a film critic. Film critics don't have to go searching for a new cinema each week to watch the new film in. They don't have to find someone to drag along every week, and they definitely get more respect from friends and family. But don't get me wrong, I still love the job.
        - Eoin Butler, "The Evening Herald"

You will need all the Zen in the universe when, during your 8 hours in the car, you are unfortunate enough to hear a member of the Dublin City Traffic Planning Division on the radio to explain the meltdown. Somehow you just know, listening to him, that his bicycle is locked to the railing outside Today FM as he makes glib statements like 'a Georgian city not designed for traffic','worse before it gets better', and 'what do motorists expect'? And as he unlocks his bike and you contemplate wallpapering the car you wonder what the chances are of dumping the car and walking into the city to find him. You haven't seen his face but you're sure you'd know his self-satisifed grin anywhere.
        - Tom Dunne, enduring Dublin traffic meltdown, "Evening Herald"

Though you will see cyclists taking on the Dublin traffic like Japanese combat pilots an enemy aircraft carrier, especially messengers and students, this is for experienced cyclists only. Until experienced in Dublin, tourists should walk or use public transport.
        - About.Com, urging tourists to avoid cycling in Dublin

My son completed a college thesis on road safety earlier this yearm and the main emphasis of his work was on cyclists. As part of his work, he set up monitoring stations on six major Dublin city centre roads, all at main traffic lights. Over three weeks, he recorded eight hours at each station, detailing the number of cyclists not wearing safety equipment (89.2%) and breaking an obvious red light (96.8%).
        - An email from John to Dublin's Metro

According to Dublin city council, only one Dublin dog owner was fined last year for allowing their pet to foul a public footpath. Yet, as anyone who has set foot in Dublin will know, the city’s pavements and other public walkways are strewn with canine waste. Dog fouling is not a victimless crime. As well as causing a mess, it is a health hazard. A single doggie deposit contains millions of eggs of a parasitic roundworm that, if ingested by children, can lead to permanent blindness. Traffic wardens seem to have no trouble appending fines to hundreds of thousands of parked cars every year, no matter how inaccessible they may be or how briefly they’re stopped in the wrong place. Yet dog wardens are apparently incapable of catching their quarry in the act, despite the fact that the animals are invariably stationary while committing their crime and often leave a fresh trail to the scene of their next atrocity.
        - Liam Fay, "The Sunday Times"

"Who is your idol?"
"Drico, Dorce and whoever does the casting for Home and Away."
        - Ross O'Carroll Kelly, interviewed in the Metro

"Birds, like they need a reason for the things they do."
"He's sensitive to a woman's needs? Did they drive him out of Meath with pitchforks?"
"I'm a bit Scooby-dubious about this..."
        - Some quotes from Ross O'Carroll Kelly in "The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger"

I've seen some really obnoxious letters over the years, but the one called "Cut Off Northside" by B Travis, Dublin 8 really takes the biscuit. Calling for blowing up the bridges across the Liffey, and quarantining the Northside, and cutting off all supplies and saying that we all eat our young is slanderous and an incitement to hatred. It shows that he is a small-minded, bitter and ignorant person. Instead of blowing up the bridges across the Liffey, a better suggestion would be to blow up the school that B Travis went to, as it obviously didn't teach them anything.
        - P Kinsella (from Dublin 9), standing up for Northsiders in a letter to "The Evening Herald"

What separates humans from animals? The Liffey.
        - Proud Southsider, with a text to the Metro

"Jayo, are you from China?"
"No, I'm from Finglas."
"Where's dah?"
        - Dublin GAA star Jason Sherlock visits the Southside, as reported in "The Irish Ind."

Southsiders come in for some schtick. Oh how we love to mock their curious vowels, strange fashions and unique outlook. And it's not as if they have mountains of daddy's cash to console them, poor dears. Really, isn't it about time we laid off the underdog?
        - Therese McKenna, previewing "Dan and Becs" for "Metro Life"

As with many popular myths, the notion that the River Liffey is Dublin's main social divider is not without a grain of truth. But any fool knows that the real divide on Dublin's map is perpendicular, east-west, rather than horizontal... Enthusiasts for the traditional divide have big difficulty explaining the location of Clontarf. The suburb is usually portrayed as a kind of outreach project for the southside, spreading enlightenment into places such as Killester, Donnycarney and even Marino. But if Clontarf is the outreach project, Howth is the foreign missions. Cut off from the southside by Kilbarrack and the sea, its middle-class values had to be supplied by helicopter until the DART established a land bridge. Or so the north-south model would have you believe.
        - Frank McNally, on Dublin's east-west divide, "The Irish Times"

Dublin, where I visited with my wife last week for a TV appearance, has just had its coldest and rainiest summer in 50 years. But you'd hardly know it given how the women dress at night. The lively city center, with its myriad pubs and clubs, is filled with guys standing with their pints of Guinness, and women walking around as if they were at the beach. Why, when the men dress with jackets and long sleeves to shelter themselves from the cold do the women wear skirts and blouses that expose almost every inch of flesh? Well, it's all about advertising. A shop's windows will display its most attractive wares. Women, likewise, put on display what they believe the men will most value: their bodies. And since it is she who shows the most product who will attract the most customers, it is no wonder that women in our time are fast becoming all cover and no book... An even bigger surprise, however, was the loutish behavior of many women as they ran around in packs like loud hooligans, trying to attract as much attention as possible.
        - Shumley Boteach, "The Jerusalem Post"


"Who's taking the p*ss"
        - Tabloid headline after theft of urine sample of Olypmic Champion horse Waterford Crystal

"It ain't over until the crazy drunk former priest attacks the frightened Brazillian marathon runner."
        - America's ESPN comment on Irishman Cornelius Ryan's Olympics antics

"The most secure Olympics in history couldn't prevent one wacko defrocked priest from disrupting the Games' signature event. Helicopters, AWACs planes and unmarked blimps couldn't detect a man in a bright red kilt."
        - from the "San Jose Mercury News"

Say what you like about the Celtic Tiger but it's a godsend to anyone trying to run a rural GAA club. The lure of Kilburn and Boston doesn't have to be factored in anymore.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, in "The Sunday Independent"

Sport has become, like republicanism and Bono, one more thing you're not allowed to laugh at. Look, for God's sake, at the GAA ads with their 'Braveheart' imagery and rhetoric, their crushing solemnity of tone, their similarity to a US Republican attack ad. Most horrible of all is an ad for the AIB All-Ireland club championship where a young lad delivers the mantra, "Be kith, be kin, belong," as though he was a Serbian politican inciting his followes to massacre the Croats in the next village. There's nothing wrong with a bit of distraction from the serious realities of life. But when all you have is distraction, then you end up being infantilised. People felt passionate and indignant about the Saipan affair in a way they never did about the horrific political corruption which was being uncovered at the same time.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, "The Sunday Independent"

A motion was carried unanimously, that the ban on RUC men and British soldiers should remain. The next item on the agenda was an application to the British government for increased grants for the GAA, and that too was carried unanimously.
        - Kevin Myers, on GAA hypocrisy, "The Irish Times" (1998)

The rule is this: if the ball is oval and you throw it backwards, it is a foreign game which may not sully the Gaelic acres of Croke Park. But if it is oval and you throw it forwards, it is perfectly acceptable and may grace the hallowed turf at any time. Is there any sense in this?
        - Kevin Myers, as the GAA ban rugby but not US football, "The Irish Times" (1996)

It is 25 years or more since Athlone Town played Finn Harps in the FAI Cup semi-final in Oriel Park. We saw things that day that no-one should see. We saw the colourful Athlone goalkeeper Mick O'Brien swinging from the crossbar and breaking it. Twice. And some of us can still hear the public address announcement: "Is there a carpenter in the ground?"
RTE had some sort of a black-and-white camera at the match, and soon these harrowing images were being screened on English television. They were all laughing at us.
        - Declan Lynch, "The Irish Independent"

It is fine to have John Giles making his eerily accurate predictions as a co-commentator with George Hamilton, while George makes his eerily inaccurate predictions.
        - Declan Lynch, "The Sunday Independent"

I am a follower of the League of Ireland, a position analogous to being an adherent of a minority religion which, like Bahai, Lutheranism or Seventh Day Adventism, is big enough for survival but far too small to really thrive. Soccer in Ireland is in a pretty unique position. It's hard to think of anywhere else in the world where the mere playing of the game has been decried by others an anti-national act of treachery. The Ban, which was eventually abolished in 1971, forbade members of the Gaelic Athletic Association to play soccer or rugby on pain of expulsion from the association. The GAA's sports of gaelic football and hurling may have been far more popular than rugby or soccer but, in the spirit of the American blockade of Cuba, they were taking no chances all the same.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, discussing Ireland's soccer league in "Perfect Pitch"

As is the case with minority faiths, the lack of numbers is often made up for by the fervour of the adherents. A Legue of Ireland fan is convinced that it's the majority who are wrong, perhaps even
secretly relishes the exclusive nature of the his passion.
        - Eamonn Sweeney, continuing the theme in "The Sunday Independent"

"Following the Irish team in those days required a big emotional commitment. Standing in Lansdowne Road in the lashing rain watching them be beaten, draw, or lose horribly to a last minute goal."
        - Paul Howard, recalling the pre-Jack Charlton days for RTE's "Chain Reaction"

Tony Cascarino: "Who the f*** is that?"
Niall Quinn: "That's the Taoiseach!"
Andy Townsend: "Who is it, Cas?"
Tony Cascarino: "Don't know. Quinny said he owns a teashop."
       - The Irish soccer team during Charles Haughey's dressing room visit in Italia '90

"To me, my family is not Irish. My parents were born in north London, as was I and as far as I'm concerned I'm English. I don't agree that you should be eligible because of your grandparents. For me, it's just about parents, or where you were born and brought up."
        - Dave Kitson, declining opportunity to play for Ireland despite qualifying under 'granny' rule

"In the average room there are 1,142 objects Roy Keane could use to kill you, including the room itself."
        - Colin Murphy, presenting spoof documentary series "The Unbelievable Truth"

"What will you say to the 'Ole-Olers' with the plastic hammers who worship you, and are fascinated with your self-perpetuating egotism?"
        - The Apres Match team's parody of the Keane saga, using Eamon Dunphy's no-show on RTE

In late May, 2002 the O'Callaghan family are returning to Dundalk from a family confirmation in Longford. On a narrow corkscrew road outside Lismacdermott, they are almost killed by a souped-up sportscar, which squeezes past them before hitting a ditch and turning over on the road. The driver, who had a few beers and rowed with his brother before storming off in his borrowed car, emerges unhurt and sets about attacking the upturned car with a golf club while locals appear with mugs of hot tea and a garda is summoned. Naturally there is only one topic of conversation among those gathered in the dusk - Roy Keane being sent home from the forthcoming world Cup. The Garda and locals are solidly on Mick McCarthy's side and O'Callaghan finds that, bizarrely, his only ally on the Roy Keane side is the driver who has just narrowly avoided dismembering the entire O'Callaghan family. This proves too much for the garda, a respecter of authority, who ends the argument curtly: "No tax, no insurance, reeking of drink and a car in the ditch - I think you would be well advised to keep your opinions on Roy Keane to yourself."
        - Dermot Bolger, reviewing Conor O'Callaghan's "Roy Keane and the Football Civil War"

"What about your legendary self-discipline Roy?"
"All credit to hypocrisy like, but that must be my microwave pizza."
        - Roy Keane, on Today FM's Radio Roy "Gift Grub"

"What that man's forgotten about football is more than the rest of us will ever know — put together."
        - Steve Staunton about Bobby Robson on Today FM's "Gift Grub"

"Sure if you can turn a guy G-A-Y, you can turn a guy G-A-A."
        - The Gaelic Games Assimilation Committee on "Apres Match"

"If you look at England there—"
"You can't say England. You have to say 'Them Across The Water'."
        - John Giles runs afoul of The GAA Assimilation Committee on "Apres Match"

"If England and Spain get to the World Cup final, who are we going to support?"
        - Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, addressing an audience of Basque separatists in Spain

"It goes to show that Dermot MacMurrough was wrong to invite Strongbow in in 1171 or whatever it was."
        - George Hook, after Ireland beat rugby world champions England in Twickenham, 2004

"This is like a cowboy movie. The Irish settlers are facing the Indians and they're waiting for the cavalry. But we have no cavalry!"
        - George Hook, as Ireland endure wave after wave of French attacks (Feb'07)

"It was decided by fate, by the bounce of a ball. That's why a rugby ball is oval-shaped — you never know the way it's going to bounce."
        - Irish coach Eddie O'Sullivan, after Ireland lose to an unlucky bounce (Feb'07)

"It's like something for the Romans, the Coliseum, just to amuse people. There are people following rugby and if you threw a tennis ball onto the pitch they wouldn't know the difference. They haven't a bull's notion what's going on. I've seen woman at matches and they might as well be knitting."
        - Paddy Reid, on the downside of rugby becoming fashionable in "The Sunday Independent"

The rugger smuggers are no longer confined to the stands. Martin Johnson lined up his team in the wrong position to be presented to President McAleese in the last international at Lansdowne Road, but when told of his error, flatly refused to move. She had to walk off the red carpet onto the pitch to shake his hand. She is our head of state. Can you imagine how such egregious insult to the Queen would have been greeted at Twickenham? No other national captain would behave in such a thoroughly un-English fashion: not even the French after the Royal Navy had sunk their fleet at Oran. It would have justified both Irish fishery protection vessels sailing up the Thames and seizing Prince Charles's shrimp nets. Think yourselves lucky the Irish are a peaceful people.
        - Kevin Myers writing in Britain's "The Telegraph"

How genuinely tolerant is ideological "multiculturalism"? We get a clue from a Brit-bashing letter in Ireland's so-called multicultural publication, Metro, predicting — with some relish — that riots will erupt if a member of the British royal family were to attend the Ireland-England rugby match. Which merely confirms my suspicion that the one culture that ideological multiculturalism does not respect is British. Metro would certainly never have published a letter exulting in the prospect of violence here over the visit of some dignitary from any other country.
       - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"

I was amazed to hear that someone is withdrawing his father's GAA medals from the Croke Park museum because God Save the Queen will be played at the upcoming England match. Apparently the anthem is too provocative to be heard within the stadium, I personally don't see why a song wishing health and happiness to a little old lady can be called provocative.
Irishmen were murdered in Croke Park 87 years ago. None of the English rugby team were there. The Queen they sing of saving was not even born, sport has no place for such grudges. Israel is happy to play Germany in soccer, despite the attempt by the Germans to systematically exterminate the Jewish race. Nelson Mandela presented the Rugby World Cup to a white South African and gave him a heartfelt embrace, despite the decades that the whites had kept him imprisoned. God Save the Queen is not only the anthem of the English team; it is the national anthem of every Ulsterman on the Irish panel. Men like Neil and Simon Best, Andrew Trimble and Isaac Boss stand politely through the anthem of the Republic, how would those fine men feel if supporters of their team booed their national anthem? For those who may boo, I hope you realise you will be demonstrating to the world that Ireland is a narrow minded and bigoted country.
        - Reader's Letter from Wexford's Peter Cosgrove to "The Irish Independent"

It's nice to see that while common sense has broken out in the GAA when it comes to the hated English playing at Croke Park, not everyone is falling for this new mood of peace and reconciliation. Step forward JJ Barret, who is demanding that Croke Park return his father's medals from the stadium museum in advance of Saturday's match. According to Barret: "The arrogant, war-mongering words of God Save The Queen ringing out over Croke Park is surely pushing the boundaries of tolerance and common sense." Hmm, interesting point. Arrogant? War-mongering? Barret's right, it shouldn't be played. In fact, maybe they could learn a thing or two from our peaceful, tree-hugging anthem, erm, The Soldier's Song: "We'll sing a song, a soldier's song, With cheering rousing chorus, As round our blazing fires we throng, "The starry heavens o'er us; Impatient for the coming fight, And as we wait the morning's light, Here in the silence of the night, We'll chant a soldier's song." Yeah, take that, you blood-thirsty, war-mongering British bastards.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

There has been some debate in Britain about updating 'God Save The Queen' to elide the jingoism of the second verse's injunction to god to: "Scatter her enemies, and make them fall/Confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks." In Ireland, the same debate is needed. When Peadar Kearney wrote 'The Soldier's Song', a century ago this year, there was no European Community and no Good Friday Agreement. There was no Republic, nor a Free State. No freedom. Brit-hating was the consolation prize of the underdog licking its wounds. On Saturday, whatever national anthems are played, the crowd will sing 'Ireland's Call', the IRFU's compromise ditty about "the four proud provinces of Ireland". During the game, those supporters wearing white will belt out the chorus of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot', about a southern American slave. The supporters in green will sing a ballad about a lovelorn deportee from Athenry called Michael. Neither song makes any sense in the context and, yet, both make perfect sense in the intangible, sentimental, teary-eyed exhilaration.
       - Justine McCarthy, "The Irish Independent"

The man in India was very nice: "Have you seen the cricket?" he asked politely. "Yes I have, actually, Ireland is doing very well!" We laughed at the shared interest. We were two strangers on two different continents, two members of former English colonies discussing the old colonial game of cricket. All that was missing was afternoon tea and some cucumber sandwiches. Oh, and a new computer that counts higher than two without exploding...
        - Tom Dunne, on the small talk of a tech support call, "The Evening Herald"

>> Quotes from RTE's Sports Commentary Team & quotes about GAA
>> Quotes about Current Affairs and Politics
>> Articles from The Irish Indepdendent & The Sunday Independent.
>> Quotes from Books on Irish history, society and politics

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