Monday 20 January 2020

A beautifully American act

A proper party: Jamie Cahill from Tallaght and Alison Reddy from Knocklyon at the US Independence Day celebrations in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Arthur Carron
A proper party: Jamie Cahill from Tallaght and Alison Reddy from Knocklyon at the US Independence Day celebrations in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Arthur Carron
Joey Chestnut competes in the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 in Brooklyn
Michael Flatley (centre), Ian Beattie, and Tony Fadil in Blackbird (2018)
Dressing down: it's time to ditch the business suits
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

There are so many things to thank America for. It is, after all, the country that gave us pastrami sandwiches, roombas, Kim Kardashian and the slanket.

It is also the country that has lifted competitive eating to an art form.

No one does it better. And this year, as part of the July 4 celebrations, history was made at the 'de facto Olympics of competitive eating': aka Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Californian Joey Chestnut broke the world record when he wolfed down 74 hotdogs in 10 minutes in 27°C heat.

"I found a vicious rhythm," Joey said afterwards. "I was feeling good."

The 35,000-strong Coney Island crowd erupted in euphoria and cheered. One paper described it as "a beautifully American act".

Closer to home, things were not so joyous on American Independence Day.

A pall was cast over the US celebrations in Ireland with a planned boycott of the US Embassy's July celebrations.

Ironically titled 'United We Rock', the soiree was being snubbed by some politicians because of Trump and his immigration policy.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it would be unthinkable to eat cocktails sausages given everything that was happening at the border. He made no reference to hot dogs.

He had also promised to protest at the event. A protest and a snub? It had all the makings of a memorable night so I was told to head along.

Frankly, the protest outside the embassy wasn't up to much. Perhaps people had forgotten the residency is in the Phoenix Park, and a protest would involve hanging about a traffic roundabout, waving a placard at the distant gates.

Let's face it, there's no glory in that - not even much of a photo opportunity. So there were no protesters.

No matter, there was a good deal of speculation over who would and wouldn't be there.

Chargé d'Affaires Reece Smyth was all welcoming smiles, and said that 1,500 of his 'closest friends' would still shown up.

And what an unusual assortment of friends he has! On the way into the grounds, a photographer rushed towards me and said he had already spotted some 'familiar faces'.

Apparently he'd caught sight of the chairperson, treasurer, chief whip, and spokesperson of the new Human Dignity Alliance. All of whom go by the same name of Rónán Mullen.

If he can't get a party started - who can?

Next to a giant marquee I saw Mullen's former comrade Mattie McGrath, jostling to get his photo taken with a man in military uniform. Mattie was there presumably to rustle up some interest in his own political party which is already twice the size of Mullen's (since he has convinced one other person to join.)

Beside the burger van, TD Noel Grealish, and proud Kerryman Michael Healy-Rae stood side by side. "Why wouldn't I be here - amn't I an American citizen?" said Healy-Rae.

"They know how to throw a proper party, the Americans," Grealish laughed. But it wasn't all fun and games for Grealish. The TD said he was planning to raise serious concerns over Trump's immigration laws with the Chargé d'Affaires later in the evening.

Perhaps, he thought that somewhere in Washington an aide would burst open the doors of the Oval Office and explain to President Trump that he had just received an urgent phone call from a garden party in Ireland, where a Galway TD had expressed his dissatisfaction with US policy?

I think we can form our own idea of just how highly the Donald rates us by his decision not to bother appointing an Ambassador here since he became President. Clearly, we're petty far down the American food chain.

Still, no one likes to turn down an invite to a barbecue on a summer's day, and so the motley crew of renegade politicians that had shown up posed with bottles of Budweiser beside vintage Chevrolets.

I ducked out early: I'm afraid that the lure of sliders, and an evening in the company of Healy-Rae and Grealish wasn't enough of a draw. Now if Joey Chestnut and his 74 hot dogs had been there…

Our demands are simple  - water or nudity

Dressing down: it's time to ditch the business suits

It is now officially too hot to do any of the following.

Bath, cook, take the bus, run, walk the dog, eat a hot dinner, and live a semi-decent life.

It was the driest June in 80 years and we are caught in the middle of a dystopian universe where paddling pools from Aldi and flushing toilets are now considered luxuries. Luxuries!

Irish Water are asking us to call the 'Rat Line' and inform on our neighbours hosing down geraniums (please note - not the actual name of helpline).

Everyone is getting sick from eating cold cuts of meat left in the sun for too long, and newsagents are having to store chocolate bars in the deep freeze.

Last week, a man missed a court hearing after getting sunburnt. Clearly, we are not used to this.

The heatwave has resulted in us all losing our minds, and it's basically now a full-blown national emergency.

Despite this, the Taoiseach has yet to do the decent thing.

That is to gather together the press and tell them he is using all the powers at his disposal to enforce new legislation making it socially acceptable to go to work without any trousers on.

Don't pretend the thought hasn't crossed your mind!

Only a sadist would voluntarily put jeans on in this weather. It's like being stitched into your own personal furnace.

Look, when the snow was here, we all got the days off work to build igloos and eat mountains of buttered toast.

Shouldn't there be some sort of compensation for hot weather?

I think so, and allowing people to ditch smart casual clothing, business suits or any clothing seems the only humane thing to do.

These are the options; give us back our hosepipes or brace yourself for a country of accidental naturists.


Michael Flatley (centre), Ian Beattie, and Tony Fadil in Blackbird (2018)


Written, directed, produced and starring super hoofer himself Michael Flatley (centre). Mark my words, this will be the cinematic event of the summer.

Katie Holmes in Avoca?

She does look like an Avoca mam.



Hired help to aid you through your break-up. Sounds depressing.

Football fatigue

When will it end?


Say what?

‘People in Arklow said the pigs were being slapped on the arse’

Broadcaster Joe Duffy levies some serious accusations during a heated debate on the ethics of pig racing on Liveline.

Indo Review

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News