For decades, Mary, the Mother of God, was the female figurehead of Ireland, before whom everyone was expected to bow and scrape and beg for forgiveness. In 21st Century Irish society, 'national treasure' Panti Bliss has assumed an alarmingly similar role, with the full blessing of the self-styled guardians of the nation's intellect. Brendan O'Neill says it's time to stop treating us like a moronic mass, and cut the apron strings . . .
One's a woman, the other is a man. One is the demure Mother of God, the other is the camp mammy of the Dublin gay scene. One appears rarely, a couple of times a century, perhaps, and always has her hair covered and a pale, dreamy smock reaching right down to her holy ankles. The other appears frequently - on TV, in the papers, in clubs, and now in cinemas - in a big, barmy blonde wig and outfits that are half 1950s-lady-who-lunches and half come-to-bed-right-now. Oh, and one's a virgin, and the other - well, not so much.
But look again. Think again. These two ladies from different millennia, from different sides of the moral tracks, share something striking in common. No, not the clobber, or the morality, or the holiness, but the way both have been transformed into Good Women who might redeem rotten, sinful Ireland.
Where the Mother of God was, for decades, the female figurehead of Ireland, before whom everyone from peasant to politician was expected to bow and scrape and beg for forgiveness, in the 21st Century, Panti Bliss (aka Rory O'Neill) plays an alarmingly similar role.