Wednesday 7 December 2016

Casting a cold eye on last great Renaissance man

Published 25/06/2011 | 05:00

Journalists Robert Fisk and Eamon McCann debate Northern Ireland and the Middle East at the Flat Lake Festival in Co Monaghan. 'I can see why
Kavanagh left this land-locked county and headed for the Dublin pubs…' Inset: Ulick O'Connor, the last great renaissance man. Photo: PHILIP FITZPATRICK
Journalists Robert Fisk and Eamon McCann debate Northern Ireland and the Middle East at the Flat Lake Festival in Co Monaghan. 'I can see why Kavanagh left this land-locked county and headed for the Dublin pubs…' Inset: Ulick O'Connor, the last great renaissance man. Photo: PHILIP FITZPATRICK

To Monaghan, then, with its narrow sun-flashed lanes and petrol smugglers and hidden lakes and the North's wind farms on the horizon and the driver telling me that Patrick Kavanagh came from here and me, tired and irritable after the flight from Beirut, saying yes I know that, and then infuriated when the man adds that he's never read anything by the fellah.

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'No, no, no, I know I was not important as I moved/Through the colourful country'. Jesus, I can see why Kavanagh left this land-locked county and headed for the Dublin pubs.

At the Flat Lake Festival -- in the grounds of the great Madden abode -- I am supposed to 'debate' with Eamon McCann -- 'activist', journalist, and 'extremist', according to the Saville Report on Bloody Sunday, take your pick -- on Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Alas, Eamon and I agree too much.

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