Friday 23 March 2018

Eoghan Harris: One small rural village, one giant political commentator

Last Wednesday, I put my three favourite CDs in the car player and took off for Ardfinnan, Co Tipperary, with three aims: To coast on Tipperary's continuing celebrations, to visit my sister Breda McIntyre and to talk to Dr Anthony O'Halloran, author of The Dail in the 21st Century, the most stimulating book on Irish politics I have read this year.

Let me pause briefly to put a few anoraks out of their misery. My three favourite CDs are O Riada sa Gaiety, Tony McMahon and Noel Hill at Knocknagree and Nicolas Toibin, the Ring sean-nos singer whose Sliabh na mBan was carefully timed to boom from my speakers just as that legendary mountain swam into view above Ardfinnan.

Ardfinnan takes the breath away. Surrounded by four mountain ranges, it sits in a sweet valley of the Suir which winds slowly through it in a long S, sweeping beneath a broad curving stone bridge with Ardfinnan Woollen Mills brooding above it, while higher still, half hidden by trees, the windows of Ardfinnan Castle keep watch.

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