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Letters to the Editor: A fond farewell to Anthony Cronin, 'the last modernist'

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From left, literary figures John Ryan, Anthony Cronin, Brian O’Nolan, Patrick Kavanagh and Tom Joyce on Sandymount Strand, Dublin, in 1954.

From left, literary figures John Ryan, Anthony Cronin, Brian O’Nolan, Patrick Kavanagh and Tom Joyce on Sandymount Strand, Dublin, in 1954.

From left, literary figures John Ryan, Anthony Cronin, Brian O’Nolan, Patrick Kavanagh and Tom Joyce on Sandymount Strand, Dublin, in 1954.

Is that the sound of ghostly laughter I hear emanating from the once-famous or infamous licensed premises in Harry Street, Dublin, known as McDaid's, as the ghosts of Myles na gCopaleen's world (Brian O'Nolan, Patrick Kavanagh, John Jordan and Anthony Cronin) consider the euphemistic terminology now being used to describe their activities in that literary (or anti-literary) establishment, to wit, "socialising"?

One newspaper report on the death of poet Cronin last week described him as "the last of the bohemians". But some other bohemians from the McDaid's era remain, including a group of somewhat younger writers who drank in the company of the aforementioned authors in McDaid's and elsewhere in the 1960s, myself included.

Instead of the label, "the last of the bohemians" being most appropriate for Anthony Cronin, may I suggest that the title he gave to his biography of Samuel Beckett, 'The Last Modernist', is more fitting.

Hugh McFadden

Harold's Cross, Dublin 6W

Only certainty is tough times ahead

2017 will certainly bring, as the Government keeps assuring us, rent certainty: very many poor souls in rental accommodation can now be quite certain that, due to the measures being introduced by those in power, they will no longer be able to pay their rent.

They will face the scandalous prospect of homelessness in the midst of alleged recovery and restoration in this sadly mismanaged little country.

James N O'Sullivan

Killarney, Co Kerry

Time never right to drop anthem

Mickey Harte says the GAA could drop the Irish anthem and the tricolour from games "when time is right".

There is about as much chance of the GAA dropping the anthem and the tricolour as there is of Mickey standing down as manager of Tyrone.

It looks like the time will never be right in either case.

Seamus McLoughlin

Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim

Fighting the scourge of terrorism

The recent cowardly terrorist attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, targeted civilians for no reason other than the fact they were celebrating the new year.

The vast majority of Arabs and Muslims stand united in condemning this scourge of international terrorism. It is a regional and global responsibility to combat this twisted ideology.

As his majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan puts it: "We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and our human principles. Our war will be ferocious and reckless for their sake and will hit terrorists in their own ground."

Dr Munjed Farid al Qutob

London, UK

The sober meaning of 'merry'

In Mary Kenny's article on festive boozing (Irish Independent, December 26), she says that "the cup that cheers" comes from a long Christian tradition and she associates that sentiment with the word "merry".

She quotes the old English carol 'God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen'. But when that carol was composed, "merry" had a somewhat religious connotation, rather than endorsing "the cup that cheers".

On the eve of his execution, St Thomas More wrote to his daughter, Margaret, of his hope "that we shall merrily meet in heaven". And 'Merry in God' is the title of the biography of Fr Willie Doyle, SJ, killed while volunteering with Irish soldiers in World War I.

Nowadays, to be "merry" can indicate being slightly tipsy, but in times past, "Merry Christmas" meant a happy one, of course, and certainly a sober one!

Patrick Fleming

Glasnevin, Dublin 9

Thatcher's view of Irish leaders

It is interesting to read that recently released state papers for 1986 purport to give an insight into Margaret Thatcher's relationship with Charles Haughey and Garret FitzGerald.

They seem to imply that she disliked Mr Haughey and was happy doing business with Dr FitzGerald. Her autobiography, 'The Downing Street Years', published in 1993, paints a very different picture.

Her opinion of Mr Haughey was: "I found him easy to get on with, less talkative and more realistic than Garret FitzGerald. Charles Haughey was tough, able and politically astute with few illusions and, I am sure, not much affection for the British."

On the other hand, she thought that although Dr FitzGerald prided himself on being a cosmopolitan intellectual, "he was a man of as many words as Charles Haughey was few. He was also, beneath the skin of sophistication, even more sensitive to imagined snubs and more inclined to exaggerate the importance of essentially trivial issues than Mr Haughey".

One of her memories of Dr FitzGerald when discussing agricultural issues at an EU meeting was that "we never seemed to get by without a tear-jerking homily on the predicament of Ireland from the Irish Prime Minister, Dr Garret FitzGerald, who pleaded that his country should be exempt from the disciplines on agricultural spending".

She said that she had met Mr Haughey in the margins of the European Council and he had urged her to find some face-saving device that would allow the hunger strikers in Long Kesh to end their fast, though he fully accepted that political status was out of the question. Mrs Thatcher stated that she came to the view that Dr FitzGerald's government did not speak with a single voice. He told her that unless the minority in Northern Ireland could be turned against the IRA that Sinn Féin would get the upper hand and, with the help of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, would drag down the Republic.

This, in her view, was a point being exaggerated to the level of absurdity.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

The wrong Gabor

John Fitzgerald's letter (Irish Independent, January 3) fondly remembers Zsa Zsa Gabor in US sitcom 'Green Acres'.

It's just as well her sister Eva has also departed this life, as she would be not be too impressed to have Zsa Zsa credited with her own most famous role.

Margaret Hogan

Thurles, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent