When Ireland was in a much worse state than it is today, the late John Kelly TD remarked that our guides were happy to declare that we were ‘unsurpassed’.
It revealed a terrible fear within us trying to convince ourselves that we belong somewhere in the global conversation. Nothing revealed our sense of inferiority more than this constant effort to pretend to rise above it. In truth, we were “unsurpassed” only in the vehemence of our claim to be unsurpassed.
But that was a long time ago, and if you want to hear a leader from these islands bragging about being second to none, you’ll find one fairly easily in the House of Commons.
That’s how far England has fallen. Not only have they self-destructed with a nationalism almost as deadly as ours, they now insist on calling what they do a “world blow” or “envy of our competitors” or some similar formula at best expressed in the words “unsurpassed”.
Noting that recently, I felt that we had reached a milestone in our island history, that all our struggles had brought us to this place where we now watch the British do things we used to do , about which we only laugh about Now. While we can’t enjoy it much because it also does us a lot of harm, we should at least be able to appreciate this change in our circumstances and say in somber tones: As you are now, so we were.
Yet even when presented with a new perspective, we tend to cling to the old ways. We took time out from Vladimir Putin’s war to complain that Kay Burley’s coverage of it on Sky News had berated us the old-fashioned way, allegedly by making it seem like we didn’t exist. Speaking from the Sky studio to two Ukrainian refugees in Dublin, the excellent Burley hoped they would “build a new life in Dublin, safe in the knowledge that the British people have their wholeheartedly behind you”.
Yes, I know… I know…
It kind of sounded like Kay thinking Dublin was in the UK, and indeed, refugees Anastasia and Alada were quick to thank the Irish for their kindness and hospitality.
It had soon become a news story in its own right, with this being seen as yet another instance of the British claiming the Irish people as their own or being unaware of our existence in any meaningful sense. So, in the midst of an international catastrophe, we devoted valuable time to our own old dispute. “You’re never unattractive,” we fumed.
So I’m going to make a big call now because that’s what I do. I don’t have convincing evidence, it’s purely instinctive, but I’ll say it anyway: I think Kay Burley knows Dublin isn’t in the UK.
Besides, I think it’s even possible that she hasn’t committed a crime here anyway – that a TV presenter in London can do two things at the same time; I pledge the support of the British people to these women and wish them well in their new lives in Dublin.
Add in the whims of our old “live TV” friend and the fact that Burley has generally been spotless in her attitude toward the Gael over the years, and you could almost argue that there’s nothing wrong with her at all, that’s really all about us.
Yes, when the English do such a thing they are demonstrating a lack of knowledge of Ireland. But what we are demonstrating is a lack of imagination. Which one is worse.
Their lack of knowledge stems from the sort of indifference articulated by then-Northern Ireland Minister Peter Brooke when he said Britain had “no selfish, strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland”. I think he meant to say that they have no interest whatsoever in any part of Ireland.
That’s where we come in, with this failure of the imagination that goes something like this: we’re unable to accept that there’s very little reason for them to care about us.
Assuming you live in South London and watch your BBC, you won’t be wondering what’s on RTÉ right now. Or if you’re an Aston Villa supporter living in Birmingham, you don’t need to think much about what Longford Town might be up to these days.
We, on the other hand, have every reason to be interested in many things in England, because we seem to prefer much of their culture to our own.
Because of this, we know they now claim to be “unmatched,” just like we used to. They used to not care what others thought of them. And if Ireland is free, neither will we.
The legacy of myth and legend of Horslips is entrenched
The Ralph McLean Show on BBC Radio Ulster on St Patrick’s Night was all about the release of their first single from Horslips, Johnny’s weddingon this day in 1972. It is a sign of how deeply the band has penetrated all aspects of Irish sensibility that a radio show in Belfast was an appropriate setting for such a celebration.
Also, they’re releasing 50 years later More than you can chewa 35 disc box set that includes just about everything they’ve ever made and some things they didn’t even know they had done.
It sounds a bit like one of those announcements that a respected figure has “left her papers to the nation.” Unless it’s good.
Recently the band had another performance at the high end of our culture at Fintan O’Toole’s We Don’t Know Each Other – A Personal History of Ireland since 1958in which he writes: “When horslips first started playing, they sounded not only normal to me, but a revelation of my own normality.
“Their fusion of American rock ‘n’ roll and traditional Irish music expressed the very way so many of us lived. And it wasn’t a cacophony. It worked.
“They were able to hold it all together, keep it going, make it buzz with energy. I loved her absolutely and unconditionally for that. I got a Horslips poster and hung it over my bed. I went to as many of their concerts as I could afford.
“When they did their concept album version of That tainI was there for his first live performance.
“After that I bought not only a copy of the album, but also the 1969 translation of the original myth by the poet Thomas Kinsella, beautifully illustrated with abstract blotches by the painter Louis le Brocquy…”
Big scream Fintan, big scream.
A stewards investigation into oligarchs is urgently needed
Oligarchs, and the very rich in general, have always been drawn to sports for many reasons.
Aside from the sport itself, they like to own things, so naturally they’ll end up owning whole sports because they want to and because they can.
Sometimes that’s not a problem for society when it comes to polo or sailing or carriage driving, which Prince Philip used to do – he was a member of the winning British team at the 1980 World Championships in…um…Windsor.
Yes, the super rich have stitched their esoteric games together well and correctly, but the current difficulty is that they now own popular games as well. Again, they just like owning things.
It became all too evident last week, one of those rare occasions when we really take a close look at one of our favorite sports and then realize that it’s largely become a competition between about three amazingly wealthy companies.
But enough about Cheltenham…
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/kay-burley-is-second-to-none-on-her-geography-41466337.html Kay Burley is unsurpassed in geography