Ireland: Boom, Burst…Revolution?
Yesterday afternoon, I was looking at the grey sky, wondering if it would rain, when I heard an unusual sound for this part of the country. The sort of sound you’d associate with Mr. Whippy’s Ice Cream Van — a jingle in the wind, a few indistinct words and another jingle. It brought me back to my childhood and I fumbled in my pockets for a few euros…nothing like an ice cream cone to raise the spirits. And it was coming down our road! But as it came closer, I recognised the music…low grade Country & Western…and the voice, oh the voice…the syrupy sound of Paschal Mooney, radio DJ and Fianna Fáíl politician. Mooney’s Tunes…he’s running for election…wants to represent us in Europe. I ran inside and locked the door, turned Jimi Hendrix up to the limit to block out the nightmare. It’s election time in Ireland — hounds are off the leash and putting their mark on every lamp post, telephone pole and street corner. All politics are local, it’s all about being King of the Bog.
They say a country gets the government it deserves, but I doubt we deserve anything like the calibre of runners seeking office here in the upcoming Euro or the local county council elections. We know from recent exposés on corruption, cronyism and plain stupidity, that Ireland cannot keep doing ‘business as usual’; but yet the same kind of klutzes are out there salivating for votes. There are a few exceptions, but the klutzes out spend and out bark them. Ireland is broke. Not just financially, it’s morally bankrupt, spiritually drained, depressed and psychically disabled. Maybe it’s our Karma. Maybe we’re gullible, or naive — we never seem to learn from experience, never seem to be able to spot the sharks, whether they’re politicians, civil servants, builders, bankers, lawyers, etc in Armani suits — or thugs and perverts in religious robes decked with silver crucifixes. When we spot them it’s too late, and unimaginable carnage has been done. Then we have a tribunal, tomato throwing in the Dáil, talking air-heads on radio and TV. And in the distraction, there’s a nasty new stew being cooked by another cabal in some dark corner.
It seems that once we got our freedom, we just replaced the brutal and incompetent British administration with our own brand of the same. And to guide the incompetents, we gave the Catholic Church a special place in our constitution and a kick in the butt to the Prods at the same time. Nice one guys… So, if our government ever needed help, all they had do was nip down to the Cardinal and he’d call God for them. And of course by having the Church on side, obedience was total. Like it or lump it, for most of our Independence, Ireland has been ruled by the prayer book and the political stroke. We may rant and rave about how bad the Brits were, but some of our own rulers were not much better. Craftier maybe, but just as sinister and two faced. And yet in spite of them, the Plain People of Ireland managed to survive, thanks in large part to help from our exiles and emigrants abroad.
Over the last year or so, Ireland has been turned on her head. The once lauded Celtic Tiger has slunk away, tail between it’s legs, like a dog who’s done the dirty on an Ikea sofa. Many Irish bankers, builders, politicians, religious orders, civil servants, lawyers and other professional high flyers have been exposed as people of low moral standards, scammers and parasites. The true standard bearers are our artists, musicians + writers. Culture, heritage and landscape make up the spirit of a nation and thankfully, we’ve some of that left. Though there’s more karma to reap up ahead for the madcap and sacrilegious deeds of building of highways and pipelines through sacred places, blighting beautiful spaces with McMansions. To quote singer/songwriter Steve Wall: “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone/ the gombeen sold her for a song/ is it too late to right a wrong? I hate to lose her…”
Listen to Romantic Ireland's Dead & Gone: The Walls
Last week, the image of Ireland being an Island of Saints and Scholars was nuked forever with the publication of the Commission into Child Abuse Report. It stunned the country. Posted online, it was read worldwide and told how the Catholic orders treated the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society for decades. On Saturday morning, government member Dr. Michael Woods was on radio, spinning his part in the compensation deal for the victims. He came across as a slippery shithead and frustrated his interviewer, the cool and calm Rachael English. Woody seemed on a different planet, and he may as well have been talking about farm animals rather than innocent children. After the segment, Ms. English said she was taken aback by the public reaction to his spiel. All the while, people were queueing in Dublin to sign a book of solidarity for the victims of abuse. Now politicians and clergy are doing a backtrack dance. Too late guys. You’re all guilty, come out with your hands raised above your heads.Something is going to ‘give’ in Ireland, and it could happen soon and happen suddenly. There’s an emotional undercurrent here, a deep sense of hurt and injustice. A widespread feeling that the country has been let down by it’s elected leaders, by the church, bankers and paragons of society. The Irish people were lied to, hoodwinked, sold dummies and now they’re being told they’ll have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. Maybe they’ll refuse. In other parts of the world, these ingredients would spark a revolt.
What’s going to happen? We don’t seem to have any leaders, no Fionn MacCool, Brian Ború, Wolf Tone in the locker room. We’ve lost all street cred with our age old European old allies — the French and the Spanish. There will be no more Armadas and no matter how many songs we sing about Napoleon, he won’t resurrect and send us a Saviour. And we’ve ripped off the Irish Americans and sold them theme park culture and synthetic shamrock for way too long. And yet they are our only hope: Irish America, Old Ireland needs you…send us your brightest and your hippest. You could start by sending us Prosecutor Patrick FItzgerald to sort a out a few smart asses here. And ask him to bring his fiddle, there will always be a place for him at the Clare trad sessions. He knows our tunes.
Speaking of Clare, I’ve a friend there who’s a postman. He is a good bell weather for what’s happening in the country, he delivers the personal news — good and bad. A few years back he alerted me to the Boom time bomb when he quietly mentioned over a pint about having an to deliver ‘an awful lot of letters with windows to certain people’. Another time he told me that a ‘certain party’ were refusing to accept certified mail from certain other parties. He becked his head towards an area locally known as Millionaire’s Road. Everyone up there had massive six plus bedroom houses, putting green lawns, two cars in the drive, decks, barbecues, verandas — the whole Celtic Caboodle. Now several of the houses are for sale, marriages have gone on the rocks and there’s weeds growing where SUVs used park.
I met him during the week while driving through Lisdoonvarna and we had a chat and a catch-up.
“Tell me,” I said, “what sort of reception are all these political flyers getting when you deliver them?”
“People are tearing ‘em up without reading ‘em,” he said, “they’re pissed off with every political party. Doesn’t matter if it’s Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin, Labour or Fine Gael, people are tired of them all. They see them as crooks and scumbags.”
“Lord God,” I muttered, “what’s the solution…”
“Jaysus, I don’t know,” he said, “but I’m thinkin’ we’re classa headin’ for a revolution.”
The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse: Read + Download Reports
Special thanks: Steve & Joe Wall
Books by Eddie Stack
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