Thursday 29 September 2016

What could possibly go wrong?

Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30

Actress Saoirse Ronan poses at the BAFTA Los Angeles Awards Season Tea Party in Beverly Hills, California, January 9, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Actress Saoirse Ronan poses at the BAFTA Los Angeles Awards Season Tea Party in Beverly Hills, California, January 9, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

When historians look back on 2016, the year in which the Irish celebrated 100 years of the delusion of freedom, they will surely view this year as the high watermark of what you might call the Irish Project. The Irish Project is the ongoing national discourse whereby we convince each other that Ireland is indeed the centre of the universe.

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This belief, of our centrality to everything and everybody, a fervent subject of discussion among all the peoples of the world, can work in two ways. We can be the talk of the world for good things, which can be summed up in the phrase "Everybody loves the Irish", to which you can also add the subclause 'Wherever you go'. Or we can be the talk of the world for bad reasons, known as, "The whole world must be laughing at us".

There is no in-between state, whereby the rest of the world is just neutral about us, or, perish the thought, not thinking about us at all. We are either being celebrated throughout the world for our unique brilliance and craic, or we are in disgrace for our childlike profligacy.

And luckily, right now, as we celebrate 100 years since we washed ourselves clean with the blood of martyrs, we are on an upswing. Medically, the national temperament could be described right now as a little high, verging on manic.

Economically, we keep confounding our critics. While the rest of the world is plodding along uncertainly, the Irish are booming. No one seems to exactly understand why, but we're not worried about that, we are just enjoying the economic miracle. Our two economic ministers are so high that they are actually crediting their friendship for this turnaround.

We sold each other more property last year than we did since 2008, and we continue to treat ourselves to record numbers of new cars - a real barometer of sensible spending. What's more worth getting into debt for than a brand new car?

In the world of sports, we have all decided that a 13-second fight is now officially the most important sport in the world and it just so happens we are the best at it. We dominate, too, the worlds of rugby and soccer and we have all bought camper vans to watch us show Johnny Foreigner a thing or two at the Euros.

And in this year of nationalistic fervour, we have returned, too, to our rightful position at the top of the arts.

We have already decided that we will dominate the Baftas, the Golden Globes and indeed the Oscars this year. Star Wars is a mere blip on the cinematic radar. We are the real cinema story this year. And woe betide anyone who tries to claim any of our successes. We are on high alert for any Brits trying to claim Saoirse Ronan as one of theirs. American-born Saoirse and German-born Fassbender are as Irish as Apple computers.

Yes indeed. We are on a roll for this 100th birthday. We are at, you could say, Peak Paddy, and we know it. So why then this feeling of unease? Why does a man with a plastic bag on his head make more sense than any politician? Things are going great. What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday Independent

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