Declan Lynch: 'A long time ago, we stopped believing normal politics too'
I switched on the radio around lunchtime, and there was Paschal Donohoe on RTE Radio One reading out his Budget.
I switched on the radio around lunchtime, and there was Paschal Donohoe on RTE Radio One reading out his Budget.
During a recent episode of the HBO hit Succession, there was a scene in which the hilariously ineffectual Tom Wambsgans is given the task of interrogating Mark Ravenhead, a star of the...
There was a tremendous scene a few months ago in the Oval Office, when Trump was blathering about China, and off-camera another voice could be heard taking up one of Trump's points, trying to...
So Paddy has cracked America. Last week Paddy Power, now known as Flutter Entertainment after its merger with Betfair, agreed another merger with their Canadian rivals, the Stars Group,...
I got some kind of upgrade recently on my TV package, and as a result, my life has become unmanageable.
Some friends of mine were in Germany for the 2006 World Cup, relaxing at a cafe in Heidelberg, when the waiter overheard their conversations and deduced that they were from Ireland.
What are we going to do when all this is over? What will our lives be like when we are not watching Sky News half the day and steeling ourselves for another Newsnight to see if democracy is still the preferred mode of government in the United Kingdom?
A senior civil servant was quoted in the Irish Independent last week about the current state of the relationship between Ireland and Britain. "If you look at what's happening with Brexit, if you're looking at who's leading the country next door, look at them falling apart at the seams, and we're leading by example," he said.
What is Middle Ireland?
They keep telling us that the higher realms of the intellect are not well served by a devotion to television, and yet the introduction of video assistant referee (VAR) into the football arena is daily presenting us with challenges that would require the input of the finest media minds of the age. But since Marshall McLuhan is no longer with us, I'll be taking it on myself, right here, right now.
I was on the phone to Miriam O'Callaghan, talking on her Today radio show about these new suggestions that Irish might be dropped as a...
As I watched the going away ceremony for Mark Cagney on Ireland AM, it struck me that you don't always get to see a TV presenter taking his leave in this fashion. At a time of his choosing.
In the first part of the series The Kennedys, narrated by Martin Sheen, we were reminded that the eldest son Joseph and his younger brother Jack served in the US army during World War II - that...
Though his words turned out to be madly controversial, I found myself identifying with much of what Colm Toibin had to say about his...
Since they landed on the Moon two days before my eighth birthday, I suppose I was as excited about my own small step as I was about the giant leap for mankind.
So how's the No Brexit Brexit going? To recap, alone in the entire universe, shortly after the UK referendum in 2016, this Diary suggested that there would be no Brexit - or that there would perhaps be a No Brexit Brexit, which is a Brexit so similar to whatever was there before Brexit, it is hardly a Brexit at all.
The second episode of the series The Troubles: A Secret History, presented by Darragh MacIntyre, is a great and deeply important piece of work.
If this Diary had a crest, it would feature this statement: "Anything That Is Any Good In This World Is In Constant Danger."
Since I have no great interest in Gaelic football, you would think that RTE's decision to get rid of Joe Brolly for yesterday's match panel wouldn't make much difference to me. Then again, people who have always had a great interest in Gaelic football seem to have no great interest in it these days, so you'd think it wouldn't make much difference to them either.
You won't go far wrong in TV drama these days with a media mogul. There are now two major series on Sky Atlantic which have a bit of the Rupert Murdochs about them - Succession, which has a dynasty not unlike that of the Murdochs in structure at least; and The Loudest Voice, which actually has Rupert Murdoch as a character.
He was clearly proud of it, was Piers Morgan, this line of his in an interview which had got millions of "views", under the heading: ''The left have become unbearable.''
Having written about it in this paper for many years, I am happy to see the recent surge in TV programmes about the online gambling phenomenon - though I am not so happy that it has taken so long for them to arrive, given that so much damage is already done.
Remember Rory Stewart? He was that odd-looking chap who stood for the leadership of the Tory Party a few months ago, and you'd hear him saying things like this:
It is a sign of the great hunger in men's hearts that they have already been engaging with the Premier League for at least a month before its start this weekend.
The basic model of western society used to entail a kind of bewilderment on the part of older people, at the crazy behaviour of the young - at their rage and frustration and the ludicrous ways in which they'd give vent to such feelings.
At this time of year, you will often hear some energetic young reporter on the radio going through a list of all the great things you can do for a bit of family entertainment - it seems there are hundreds of local festivals, with street theatre and face-painting and the like, hundreds of ways of having a day out in Ireland which will be both enjoyable and uplifting.
As the Dail rises for its summer holidays, signalling the official end of the silly season, I suppose there are some who will be disappointed in the performance of the Government, and of "Leo" in particular.
It was a gift from the gods that we hadn't expected. A gift that we had no right to expect.
Sir David Attenborough arrived on to the main stage at Glastonbury, hailed as a god, which of course he is.
This is your occasional reminder that there will be no Brexit. Indeed before we get to that, I think it is only right to remind ourselves, that this has already happened. That there was no Brexit.
A few minutes into the Tory TV game-show called Our Next Prime Minister, I started thinking about Chernobyl.
It is one of my basic rules of good living, that you should never not watch a football match.
Like the Mafia, the IRA is structured around the family. Certainly it helps if you support the ideals of Irish nationalism, whatever they are, but the republican "family" is often literally a family.
They just can't help themselves. The latest broadcaster to pronounce the surname of the Tory minister Jeremy Hunt with a capital "C" was the BBC's esteemed Victoria Derbyshire - a woman of the highest professionalism and probity who would never knowingly make such an error just for a laugh.
The third episode of the five-part documentary series Thatcher: A Very British Revolution started by describing her as the most unpopular prime minister since polling began. It was 1982, and her obsession with cutting public spending was the only salient feature of her time in office. She seemed to be doomed.
Imagine, for a moment, that Jurgen Klopp was the President of the United States, and Donald Trump was just some football manager.
They couldn't even let her enjoy the results of the RTE Exit Poll.
The last time Liverpool won the Champions League, in Istanbul in 2005, my friend the writer Paul Howard came from the other side of Avoca, with a packet of Toffee Pops in one hand, and a packet of Ginger Nuts in the other. They had been purchased in Hendley's shop down in the village - a ritual observed with due solemnity in every round of the tournament.
It was Charlie Haughey who told me about Chernobyl. And I don't mean that I was watching TV and Haughey came on to convey to his people the grave news from the Soviet Union, I mean that he actually told me, and a few other people about it, in a room in Leinster House.
It was only through football that I came to understand how the money-men destroyed the world. As a Liverpool fan, I didn't have to wait until the Great Crash of 2008 to become acquainted with the notion that you can be a very rich person without necessarily having any money, as such.
A friend of mine in Wicklow was concerned about the fact the preliminary round of the Leinster Championship between Wicklow and Kildare was being held in Carlow. He just couldn't figure it out - why Carlow? Why not Wicklow or indeed Kildare? If it had been held in the Wicklow county ground in Aughrim, he might even have gone to it himself, making the journey from his home near Arklow.
I knew there must be something strange going on, when the man from the Department of Justice called me to ask if I could take part in one of the panel discussions at the Gambling Seminar held by Minister of State David Stanton at Farmleigh House last Wednesday.
One of the joys of Ireland's Favourite Folk Song is that it generates plenty of discussion and debate, at the end of which I usually emerge as the winner.
Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino have taken their teams to the Champions League final and, unlike their counterparts in the corporate or political arenas, they can truthfully say that it could not have been done without them.
You can never relax in this world. Even the Eurovision is gone now, in terms of relaxation, this event which used to be uniquely relaxing.
I happened to be in Berlin recently, checking the pulse of the Germanic peoples, and I found myself wondering about a strange phenomenon that I have noticed in some of these great lands on 'the continent' - their television isn't that great.
It surprises me now when the Snooker World Championship comes on the telly, because it's been on the BBC for so long, you might have assumed they'd be doing their very best to get rid of it.
Let us call it 'recreational nationalism'. Like the recreational use of Class A drugs, it is a major phenomenon but rarely gets the kind of attention we give to the hardcore element, the addicts who have nothing else in their lives - the ones we call terrorists, to distinguish them from the ones who used to be terrorists, or who would support terrorism in certain circumstances.
There is never any problem finding someone to point out how bad the telly is getting, so it is also necessary sometimes to point out how good it is - how it is still better on the whole than any other medium which is pretending to usurp it. Better than we ever give it credit for, maybe a bit like, say, newspapers…..
We are not easily pleased, we humans.
When I wrote in 2016 that "there will be no Brexit" - or that there would be a Brexit so similar to actually staying in the EU it could be called the No Brexit Brexit - I was thinking not of the next outbreak of political giddiness, but of more fundamental truths.
In the course of a week's viewing we can be presented with programmes which raise various moral dilemmas, or at least a few questions which test our general sense of right and wrong.
I wouldn't keep mentioning this, but since it hasn't exactly been making the front pages, I'm returning to this extremely strange matter of the Sinn Fein abstentionist policy.
I was very happy indeed, with My Tribe. Happy, too, that it was on RTE 1, when it might have been shunted into RTE 2 or TG4, due to the high rock 'n' roll quotient, and the bit of 'Irish' in it.
John Delaney is unfortunate. He happens to be the CEO or the Executive Vice President or whatever of an organisation that concerns itself, up to a point, with football. So people care about it, and many of them even understand it.
It was shown for the first time recently on BBC4, and will be repeated tonight on BBC2 Northern Ireland, this documentary fronted by Ardal O'Hanlon called Showbands: How Ireland Learnt to Party. And I should add that I made a few small contributions to it myself, but however you want to deal with that is up to you.
Sometimes you don't need to look beyond the obvious. When I saw the picture of Mary Lou McDonald in New York, walking behind a banner saying "England Get Out of Ireland", I remembered an image that occurred to me a few weeks ago, an obvious one, but still…
I was reading the latest dispatch from RTE's Europe correspondent Tony Connelly, reading it and re-reading it, and eventually I started to understand the broad outline of what he was saying.
When I was a teenage punter - not so much a betting man as a betting boy - it would probably have seemed strange to me that at Cheltenham time, a top jockey would be doing ads for a top bookie like Terry Rogers or Sean Graham.
At certain points in this collection, perhaps during Anthony Cronin's magisterial lines on the Epsom Derby, or Tommy Conlon's note perfect piece on Alex Higgins, or during Paul Kimmage's several meisterworks or in recalling the greatest hits of Eamon Dunphy, it would cross my mind that the sports pages of newspapers were known to some as "the toy department".
Television has "owned" sport for a long time now. And it's been a tremendous deal all round, with the top 10 audience figures for each year usually consisting of about nine sporting events and perhaps one other programme that was made about the events in question.
There was a very interesting article in The New York Times recently about Free Solo, the documentary about the great climber Alex Honnold which has won Oscar and Bafta awards and which made it to our televisions last week.
There was a pretty good joke on Twitter a few weeks ago about Michael Jackson. I don't recall the name of the person who made it, but it went something like this.
The distinguished British writer and broadcaster Danny Baker recently declared that "we have a generation of politicians long advised by fixers and wonks, that a glib soundbite can solve any situation. Action is seen as laughably old school by this legion of glib invisible fixers. Now action is demanded. And they are exposed, helpless, useless…."
Michael Cohen said of himself that "I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man".
I wouldn't normally be thinking about George Orwell first thing in the morning, but these days it seems that it's all Orwell, all the time.
There's a description in The Voyage, Johnny Duhan's new book of autobiographical stories, of a gig at a club venue in Waterford in the early 1990s. He gets the bus from Galway with his son Ronan, who is about 12 at the time.
It is strange to think that there was once a time when men such as Gordon Banks and the other Boys of '66, were the most famous Englishmen on earth. And that they were loved, too, by the multitudes.
I got a text from a friend: "Liam Neeson - he had a good run all the same." It could mean only one thing. I went to Twitter straight away, wondering what Neeson could have said or done, to have my friend thinking that it must be all over now for the big man.
There's an odd thing that happens when you're looking at a documentary such as The Irish Revolution. You find yourself wanting to pause it here and there, to make a point of order, or just to add your own observations, but you tend to get lost in the moment and you just let it go.
They love talking about the HSE. If you want to be regarded as a serious person in this country - maybe even serious enough to be on The Marian Finucane Show - you need to be able to talk in an apparently authoritative way about the HSE.
The best line ever written about David Cameron was by funnyman Frankie Boyle, who described him as "a sort of bored viceroy engaged in the handover of power from government to corporations".
There was Cormac from the Midlands who was given €5,400 in cash by family members to pay bills, and who lost it all in less than four hours in a betting office. He can't eat or sleep, he was telling Joe Duffy - that the way he sees it, he now has a choice between the money-lender and the river.
They were on Sky News, talking about Northern Ireland. Talking about trouble of some kind involving Northern Ireland. Which is not good.
Film director Ross Whitaker, who made the excellent documentary Katie, clearly has an eye for the great figures of Irish life. A few years ago he worked on a documentary about gambling which was shown on RTE2, and which featured appearances by me and Joe O'Shea - though Joe was the actual presenter, and I was only on it for a few minutes, it showed that Whitaker was ready to deal with some of the big players.
Now that parts of the democratic governments of the USA and the UK are no longer functioning in any meaningful sense, it is clear that much of the respectable media has been unaware for some time of the true nature of what has been happening.
For all those who were wishing him well on his retirement from 2FM, there were only happy memories of Larry Gogan. For me it was not so simple.
I should be used to it now, and yet there is always something about the explanatory note at the start of a drama based on real events - in this case the referendum campaigns against and for Brexit - that sends a chill through the soul.
When Elvis died, and his manager Colonel Tom Parker described it as a great career move, it was seen as the ultimate statement of the cynicism of the Colonel, and of showbiz hustlers in general. But it was true.
It was rightly pointed out in Phil Lynott: Scealta On Old Town, that Thin Lizzy were one of the greatest, if not the actual greatest Irish rock band. I think it would be fair to add that Lizzy, for a considerable period, were the greatest of all rock bands, anywhere.
We have just had a vegan breakfast. It was made by our daughter, Katie, who is a vegan. It was quite nice, really, whatever it was.
It was like something out of an old screwball gangster movie. On the left-hand side of a split screen on CNN, they were outside the courthouse in which Trump's "fixer" Michael Cohen was being convicted of serious crimes; on the right-hand side of the split screen, they were outside another courthouse in which Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort was being convicted of serious crimes.
The definitive line about the grave situation at Old Trafford came last week in a tweet from the eminent gastroenterologist Dr Anthony O'Connor - who described a school carol service which he attended.
The great TV dramas of the year were not being created by brilliant writers, they were being formed in the minds of some deeply worrying individuals, and performed by bad actors - in every sense.
During the Great Crash, we heard a lot of people quoting Warren Buffett's line, that "only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked". With the tide going out on the UK, perhaps never to return, we are discovering a lot of things that we didn't want to discover, and not just about the UK.
I took a walk back into the past recently, and I liked what I saw. It was a midweek episode of Match of the Day, and though it started quite late on a Wednesday night, I had somehow succeeded in not knowing any of the results of the matches being shown.
Defining the spirit of the age as always, there was a man from the financial services sector on The Marian Finucane Show last Sunday, voicing his concern that we are in danger of losing some of the top talent in that area, because they can get more money in other countries.
It was to some extent a surprise that Ada Hegerberg, the winner of the first Ballon d'Or for women's football, was asked by presenter Martin Solveig if she knew "how to twerk". Yet there was also a terrible inevitability to it.
We seem to be enjoying this little phase in our island story, in which we have somehow found ourselves looking like the grown-ups in our relationship with the UK - yes, despite the fact that their nationalist folly might cost us a lot of money, we are enjoying the higher aspects of it, the aesthetics.
With the death of the Italian film director Bernardo Bertolucci, we lost a man who played a small but not insignificant part in Irish history - some would specify that it was our cultural or social history but, you know, it's all history.
It was poor from Jose, smashing water bottles against the ground in delight as Manchester United scored their late winner against Young Boys of Berne.
It was like just like old times, stumbling across an excellent piece of public service television by accident - in this case it was the item on the Wednesday edition of This Morning on Virgin Three in which Love Island's Chris Hughes could be seen having his testicles examined.
If ever there was a vision of human happiness, it was Michael Ryan, the retired presenter of Nationwide, speaking to Mary Kennedy and Anne Cassin "via Skype from Portugal".
It has been some time since I wrote that "the FAI is the dysfunctional sporting body that other dysfunctional sporting bodies call 'the galacticos'." And since then, there have been several times when it seemed appropriate to take that one down, and send it out there again - maybe there will never be a time, when it is not appropriate.
Emmanuel Macron could have said a lot of things last Sunday, during the ceremony in Paris to mark the centenary of the Armistice, but he concentrated on the most important thing: nationalism.
Albert Camus said that "everything I know about morality and the obligations of men I owe to football". But if you want to know about amorality, the game of ball is quite good for that too. And of course when we talk of such things, usually we are talking about money.
I broke away from the Brexit negotiations last week and was listening to the Moncrieff radio show, when he mentioned the fact that it was Sir David Attenborough who had the idea of introducing yellow tennis balls to replace the white ones which had always been used.
The second article I ever wrote for this paper was about Sonny Knowles.
Funnyman Andrew Maxwell, speaking on the BBC's Politics Live, was absolutely right in his assertion that we are voracious consumers of British culture, but that the British know very little about us. He spoke of "a valve that flows in one direction".
I remember the start of a TV drama series a few years ago, something about gangsters. I remember seeing the ads for it, and thinking that I have seen some great gangster movies and TV programmes in my time, but I just couldn't face another one - I was all gangstered out.
Stephen Sondheim, who is 88, took a break from writing his latest musical to keep an eye on the revival of his show Company, which is currently getting raves in the West End, and is due to return to Broadway next "Fall".
There has been criticism of the Irish media in general for providing Peter Casey with the opportunities to make his case - whatever it is - about Travellers.
The story of William Sitwell resigning as editor of the Waitrose magazine because he sent a supposedly humorous email to a freelance contributor about killing all vegans is a kind of homage to the spirit of Brexit - at every turn you see the wrong decision being made, with each new day, it gets slightly worse for all concerned.
I approach the last episode in the series of The Great British Bake Off in much the same way as the person who doesn't really like football might regard the Champions League Final - I will partake of the sense of occasion, without really getting involved. I will drop in briefly to this world full of the strangest obsessions, and then I will drop out again, and life will go on.
When it came to my attention a few months ago that the Irish Book Awards are sponsored this year for the first time by An Post, I thought nothing of it for a while - and then I remembered this book published in March called Tony 10 that I wrote with Tony O'Reilly, who funded his gambling addiction with approximately €1.75m which he stole from... An Post.
It took a while for everyone to absorb the fact that Anna Burns, the winner of the Man Booker Prize, was actually living in poverty until she won the 50 grand and change for her novel Milkman. Or at least she was on "benefits" and had mentioned her debt of gratitude to food banks and other such options which tend to feature only in the lives of the poor and unknown.
The above painting that Trump has hung in the White House - of himself with other Republican heroes including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W Bush and Abraham Lincoln - is clearly not a great work of art.
It had been another carnival of eejitry, this presidential debate on RTE Radio One last Saturday lunchtime - but there was something different about this one. Or rather, there was something different at the end of it, something so different it might have been a kind of an experiment in altered states of consciousness.
We read that Michel Barnier has made the Border the "central plank" of his negotiating strategy. And while I don't have a negotiating strategy, as regular readers will know I have a central plank, which is that "you should never not watch a football match".
It was the great Eamon Carr of Horslips who told me about this trick that Colonel Tom Parker had in his repertoire, in the years before he discovered Elvis. He would be selling hot dogs, except there would be very little "dog" in them, as such, just a small bit of sausage sticking out at either end of the bun. And when the unhappy customer would return to complain, the Colonel would say something like: "Hey buddy, you dropped the dog!"
Jason Byrne did the best comedy gig I have ever seen. It was upstairs in the International Bar, and it was the kind of performance that was not just funny, it left you in awe - you knew you had been in the presence of genius.
There's been a bit of information knocking around my head all week that makes me feel better about living in this grand old European Union of ours, which at least pretends to be concerned about certain aspects of social mobility.
There's been a lot of classy writing about Trump, and some of it might even be doing some good, but I particularly like the Canadian writer Naomi Klein's clear definition of the essence of the Trump brand as Impunity.
We haven't a chance really. A recent report suggested that most of us never get beyond two minutes into our day, without hearing or seeing something from the outside world that is - as Desiderata put it - vexatious to the spirit.
Breathtakingly naff though it was, there was still a kind of patriotism in Theresa May's dance to the podium at the Tory Conference. If she will agree to do such things for her country, there is still hope.