The genius of Frasier was that the main character was terribly priggish, and his brother Niles was even more terribly priggish. A lesser work would have made Niles a slob, instead they doubled down on the anal retentiveness.
Thus it is with the Healy-Raes, the TDs Michael and Danny, in a slightly different style. Instead of priggishness, the fundamental trait which they display can be called Kerryness. And while the voice of Michael is always reminding you that he is from Kerry, he faces a fierce challenge from Danny, whose performative Kerryness is pitched at an even higher level of intensity.
You hear Michael on Newstalk Breakfast (Newstalk, weekdays, 7am) giving out about Ireland’s climate reduction targets for transport, calling them “unmanageable and unachievable”.
But that’s not the main point Michael is making here; the main point he is always making is that he has this magnificent Kerry accent, the most powerful weapon any man can have at his disposal. And he is prepared to use it.
He argues they are “trying to make it a criminal act to drive your motorcar”. But that is not the main point he is making here; the main point is that he is saying “motorcar”, not “car”. His Kerryness demands the archaic “motorcar”, because it is more mellifluous.
On Newstalk Breakfast, especially when his opposition is from some Green Party dude, he is unrivalled in this field. It is only when his brother Danny arrives on The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk, weekdays, 4pm) that he might start to feel the heat.
Danny’s Kerryness is more than just a dominant feature, it is pathological. So deeply does he dig into his reserves of Kerryness to make even the simplest statement, he makes Michael sound like a member of the Dún Laoghaire bourgeoisie.
He outflanks him with such relentlessness, you fear at times he will do himself an injury. His subject on this occasion – not that it matters – was the proposal by the feared Rural Independent Group of TDs that all retail premises should have to accept cash.
He was identifying with the plight of the Poor Ould Fellas here, though of course Danny is very much a Rich Ould Fella.
Still, he blathered on, his accent oozing Kerryness, every word enunciated with such zeal it was telling us no man had ever sounded more like a Kerryman than this man, at this moment.
He ‘became’ a Poor Ould Fella, presenting himself as someone bamboozled betimes by these plastic cards used for money these days, telling Cuddihy the cards give him “fierce trouble” – his card would work in one place, but wouldn’t work in another. He favours “the chequebook, and the few bob in his pocket”.
He faced down his opponent on the show, Paul, who runs a gastropub in Glanmire. Everything Paul said made sense, including the fact his Full Irish Breakfast would cost €11.70 instead of €10.70, if they were incurring the logistical expenses caused by cash.
Sadly the Poor Ould Fellas would have lost him at “gastropub”. And Danny could register another victory, not just for the lost ways of rural Ireland but for his own overpowering Kerryness.
While the brother had started the day making a routine attack on the Green agenda, Danny had finished it with a broadside against the money system itself.
Danny also had a swipe at the GAA for its futuristic vision in which all match tickets must be acquired online. Again channelling the Poor Ould Fellas, he asked us to empathise with older people who “didn’t want to be imposing on anyone” by asking for help with the internet.
But this was not even the worst GAA controversy of the week – that would be an alleged assault on a match official at a Dublin minor hurling match which featured on RTÉ 1’s News at One. It “seems to be a growing problem”, as Bryan Dobson put it. Which would be correct, if you defined a problem that has been around since 1884 or thereabouts, as “growing”.
Scheduled for last Sunday, but postponed till tonight, An Draíocht (Lyric FM, Sunday, 6pm) is a Lyric Feature made by Paul McDermott – a powerful piece on the music of Sliabh Luachra. Weirdly the voices of the Healy-Raes are musical and yes, they hail from the Sliabh Luachra region, but somehow they do not appear in this.
The Kingdom of Kerryness stops at the door of Lyric FM.