Sunday 23 October 2016

Anglo-Irish and Famous

Published 11/01/2016 | 02:30

Duke of Wellington
Duke of Wellington
Robert Boyle.
Oscar Wilde
Maud Gonne.
Elizabeth Bowen.

As Barbara McCarthy meets the occupants of Ireland's castles, Pat Fitzpatrick looks at famous Anglo-Irish figures from our history.

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Ireland was "a nation of scoundrels", according to the Duke of Wellington. We should have given him the boot, says you. The reason we didn't is because at least he didn't try and pay us a compliment. We're not too keen on them lads at all. Barack Obama came over and pretty much tried to get off with us. That's why his monument is a service station on the M7. Wellington was rewarded with a giant mickey in the Phoenix Park. We're walking away from at least four jokes there.


Do you remember Boyle's Law? And no, it isn't a detective drama on ITV3. "You're off the case, Boyle!", said nobody to this Waterford man when he published Boyle's Law in 1662. We don't revere our world-famous scientists in Ireland. It doesn't fit our self-image of alcoholic dreamer pixies. The truth is we feel sorry for the winners of the Young Scientist competition. They will never feel the glorious urge to write a shit novel about the tragedy of emigration.


He had nothing to declare but his genius. Look up some of his other hilarious quotes on the internet. You'll have nothing to declare but your gratitude that you didn't live in late-Victorian times. Because they were obviously dodgy times for comedy. There are people out there who wish Oscar was alive today so we could still enjoy his bon mots. We have only two words for them. Stephen Fry. Be careful what you wish for.


Fictional tabloid headline marking the disappearance of her favourite pet? Dog Gonne. Make it stop! Of course Maud counted WB Yeats as an ardent admirer. That was before we fully understood the concept of a stalker, says you, sparking a flurry of letters to the Irish Times. Yeats tried to win her over with a barrage of poems. Unfortunately, no one told him about mixtapes. Or dancing up against her at closing time and shouting, "I had a bath on Tuesday!"


Who's that now? It's fair to say Elizabeth Bowen is one of the greatest Irish writers you might never have heard of. Mainly because she was a heterosexual, Protestant woman without a drink problem. Sure, where's the fun in that, lads? Her portrait stands in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. It's a bright and airy place by the Opera House, much loved by members of the Cork intelligentsia. You'll often see the two of them in there.

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