Saturday 29 April 2017

The political alien too posh for Irish politics

Our national chip about what makes us Irish is still the size of a large log, says Emer O'Kelly

AS GOOD AN IRISH MAN AS ANY OTHER: Lord Henry Mount Charles
AS GOOD AN IRISH MAN AS ANY OTHER: Lord Henry Mount Charles

Emer O'Kelly

An Irish citizen, The Marquess Conyngham, was told in 1985 that he wasn't a welcome addition to Irish life. Who? At that stage, the Marquess was one of the trendiest figures in Ireland, and an icon of the international pop and rock world. He still is.

He's the man more commonly known as Lord Henry Mount Charles, which has never been his correct title. But we like getting titles wrong in Ireland: it proves how democratic we are. Unfortunately we're not democratic enough to believe titled citizens should be fully included in national life - we like our eminent figures to have been born without a shirt to their backs and to have dragged themselves up by their bootlaces, even if the dragging has been decidedly shady and hasn't been accompanied by much of a grounding in ethical behaviour in public life.

We happily bestow on such people the right to behave like arrogant pigs, while dismissing courtesy displayed by well-bred people as condescension. We're also not too keen on intellect in public life: at best we regard it as pathetically naive, at worst it's 'coming the toff'.

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