Tuesday 17 October 2017

Of night, light and the half light

John Waters was in Sligo last Wednesday when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall came to call

Prince Charles looking out to sea from Mullaghmore Harbour during his Irish visit
Prince Charles looking out to sea from Mullaghmore Harbour during his Irish visit
John Waters

John Waters

A mountain is a dangerous choice of image to dominate the greeting of a royal from the former imperial "mainland". It risks undertones of sleeveenism, which lie sneakily in wait for the unconscious disquiet that may go with sucking up to people who just happened to be born into the nobility of long-dead empires.

But Ben Bulben is more majestic than any flesh-and-blood royal, so the effect of its iconography as a backdrop to the official reception for Charles and Camilla at The Model Arts Centre in Sligo on Wednesday was more in the way of an ironic reminder of the true facts of life. Is there anything in nature more beautiful? Sligo is a town without a heart: no matter where you are in it, you think the centre must be someplace else. There is no core space that suggests itself as the nucleus or hub. It's a town as though coming apart, as though disintegrated by the magnetic pull of the stunning beauty of the surrounding countryside.

We were there to greet the visitors with friendship and respect. But not to grovel. This, after all, was not Dublin. This was the proud west: wild; awake; wind from the; to Hell or to.

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