We have established that nationalism in general is eejitry taken to such extremes it becomes a form of evil. And in the case of our version of nationalism, perhaps the ultimate eejitry is that many of us would broadly agree in theory with a United Ireland if it wasn’t for the nationalists themselves – they have contrived somehow to be the main obstacle to their own ambitions.
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The Hard Shoulder
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Marty in the Morning
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On Newstalk Breakfast, Shane Coleman and Vincent Wall (sitting in for Ciara Kelly) were kicking around these matters in the light of recent upsurges in nationalist “sentiment”, including a Wolfe Tones concert at Féile an Phobail in Belfast which was described as a “hate-fest” due to its republican buck-leppery.
Coleman and Wall shared the view that younger people are naturally less aware of the potential for catastrophe in the rise of raw, untreated nationalism. It works well, this “kicking around” by the co-presenters, if only because it injects an energy into the proceedings that is not allowed in the more traditional presenting styles of Morning Ireland – and any energy we can get at that time of the day is appreciated.
Coleman and Wall were joined by Austin Stack, whose father Brian, the head prison officer at Portlaoise, was murdered by the Provos. Stack spoke of this “creep” of nationalist exhibitionism, these celebrations of the IRA which have recently been happening in Northern Ireland, but which have been “growing down here as well”.
For him and his family in particular it has a “retraumatising” effect, but perhaps more work needs to be done in reframing these debates. Like, one of the main things about the Wolfe Tones and their ilk is not that their music is “Irish”, but that it is bad. Almost all “nationalist” music is bad, and frankly I don’t know anyone who likes it, because the people I know tend to be people who like good music.
It’s hardly our culture at all, unless we accept that our culture is basically bad.
Elvis Presley is more intrinsic to Irish culture as it has evolved than much of what you’ll find at Féile an Phobail – with the bonus that his music is not bad. It is good. Or is it?
Journalist and broadcaster Pat Carty was explaining to Kieran Cuddihy on The Hard Shoulder that yes, Elvis is mostly good, and only sometimes bad, but since he started out so great, in the end the bad stuff doesn’t really matter.
Interestingly, Elvis was changing our culture forever, around the time Seán South of Garryowen, a particular favourite of the Wolfe Tones, was making his mark on our consciousness. Now we know that South was so far to the Right he was almost meeting himself at the other end, we can decide for ourselves which of these we should be celebrating with more gusto.
Last week they were marking the 45th anniversary of the death of Elvis; one of those events so meaningful for humankind, most people who were alive at that time can remember what they were doing when they heard the news. I was listening to Tony Prince on Radio Luxembourg – the Prince mourning the King, one “Royal Ruler” to another.
There should have been more coverage of this on all platforms, but The Hard Shoulder with Carty did it right. Carty can be found on many shows these days, making these important contributions, to the extent that it’s about time someone persuaded him to settle down in the one place.
Marty Whelan has found his home on Lyric FM – a sense of permanence reinforced by one Phil O’Kelly who got a tattoo of Marty’s face on his thigh, after losing a Fantasy Football bet.
When Marty joined Lyric, there were some who felt it wouldn’t be right for him. It turns out he has brought so much to the party, it is absolutely certain he is the only Lyric host ever to have had their image rendered as a tattoo.
Éamonn Lawlor, the former newsreader who was a seminal figure at the launch of Lyric, never had his head tattooed on any part of anyone. Liz Nolan and Aedín Gormley have received many accolades, but nobody has ever gone in to a tattoo parlour with a picture of either of them.
The Marty Movement is growing: Tiocfaidh ár lá.