Friday 24 November 2017

Begod! Praties, cattle and the twinkle-eyed natives

CIARAN BYRNE

No Irish cliche was left unturned when the international media came to Ireland to cover the JFK visit. Some of the dispatches were humorous, others mocking and often ever so casually racist in tone as correspondents wrote about the visit.

And it wasn't confined to the tabloid press, as some might expect.

Here are 10 of the best worst examples!

1 'Mothball-eaten togs' While reporting on the garden party at Aras an Uachtarain, the Fleet Street 'Daily Express' derided the female guests as being dressed in the "mothball-eaten togs of Victorian days" and "comic hats".

2 Troo and troo! When discussing the build-up, the 'Guardian' writer Arthur Hopcraft said one commentator had declared that every drop of blood in JFK's veins was Irish through and through. "He took the first "h" out of "through" at that," wrote Hopcraft.

3 'Nothing that's sensible' The 'Guardian' again, this time mocking the gardai. Wexford's superintendent was caught with no official dignity at all: "It's such a whirl I can tell you nothing that's sensible," Hopcraft claims the garda said.

4 'His praties will surely rot' "Should there be a man in the whole of Co Wexford who has not flaunted at least one Irish Tricolour or Stars and Stripes at the clouds today, his praties will surely rot in the soil and his hens lay addled eggs for evermore. The country has received its O'Lancelot". Yes . . . it's Mr Hopcraft again.

5 'Flattering quotations' In the 'Daily Telegraph', writer Vincent Ryder wrote about Mr Kennedy's historic Dail speech and sniffed that "flattering quotations on or about Ireland were forthcoming with production-line precision".

6 The New Ross Darby O'Gills The 'New York Times' reported Darby O'Gill-style that the twinkle-eyed locals of New Ross were prepared for every eventuality. "'There will be so many people to hear the president next Thursday,' Mr Wilsh (sic) suggested, 'that "half of 'em" will end up in the river.'" The paper reported a supposed council plan to station a boat in the river "to fish out those who fall in".

7  '70 chickens and three cows' The 'Los Angeles Times' reported from Dunganstown that the old homestead had been spruced up: "The tidy but dirty barnyard where the widow Ryan's 70 chickens and three cows once held sway, has been covered with concrete and now resembles a parking lot."

8 'Tangy Irish soda bread' The same paper interviewed an uncharacteristically truculent-sounding Mary Ryan about her preparations for JFK. "She plans to brew him a cup of tea and serve some tangy Irish soda bread. 'That is all he is going to get,' she supposedly said."

9 'Gay, Gaelic day' In Wexford, the 'Washington Post' described the crowds that greeted JFK and noted eight girls had fainted and had to be carried off in ambulances in a generally "gay, Gaelic day". It also counted up the fact there were 65 pubs in New Ross.

10 'Pretty little Irish girl' The 'Los Angeles Times', in a report from Wexford, said of JFK: "The most important thing he did in Dunganstown was cut a cake. One of his cousins, a pretty little Irish girl, introduced the president to a distant relative saying: 'Cousin Jimmy meet up with cousin Jack.'"

Begorrah and begod!

Irish Independent

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