Friday, 26 October 2012

Why do Irish people have such a hard-on for Barack Obama?

One from Mayo. One from Chicago. Neither a hurling stronghold.

11 days to go until America decides who they want as their president/commander-in-chief/puppet for the corporations for the next four years and Barack Obama must be brickin' it.

He's up against a man (Mitt Romney is his name for the plebs among us) who is 50% grease and 50% pure evil and yet still Barry is lagging behind in most polls. Well, lagging behind suggest it's a big gap, it ain't. Yesterday's Gallup Poll shows Romney with 50% of the popular vote and Barry with 47%. 

Hardly a gargantuan lead and some other polls suggest Obama has his nose in front but it's still enough for Barry to be cuddling up to Michelle at night seeking some loving reassurance that it will be him sending thousands of  Afghans and Al-Qaeda insurgents to their deaths for the next four years and not that indignant mormon fool.

But were this presidential race taking place on the fair isle on which I am typing this piece, Ireland of course, Barry would cruise to victory. No, cruise is the wrong verb, he'd waltz, no that's not it, he'd PUMMEL his way to victory. Yeah, that's it. And this is not mere hyperbole from I, this is scientific fact. A poll commissioned by the Irish Times last week showed a whopping 79% of us Irish would re-elect Barry, while a paltry 5% would vote for Shit Mitt and 16% couldn't be arsed having an opinion (God bless that 16%).

So. Why the hell do we like this man so much?

Well for a while everyone, of every creed, race and nationality loved Barack Obama. He was 2008's Katie Taylor. Adored. Deified. He could not put a foot wrong, remember, this is a man who won a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing. Nada. I put as much work into winning that Nobel Peace Prize for Barry as he did. I'll admit, I loved the man but hey, I was 15. I have an excuse. You older people are gullible fools

But while most countries have moved on from this extreme adoration (They burn effigies of him in the Middle East), us Irish still retain it. We still cling to, as Sarah Palin so succinctly put it, the "hopey, changey stuff" he came out with way back when. 

While Mitt Romney is perceived as a filthy rich, malignant, poor-hatin' scumbag (And that he is) by us Irish, I have genuinely seen comments from Irish people on the internet state that Obama is an "All-round nice guy", a "a sound lad" and about 30,000 comments by disgruntled Irish folk saying "He'd do a much better job than the useless bastards/idiots/cunts/other-pejorative-noun we have in the Dáil" or something to that tune (They could be right, but my labrador would do a better job than the useless idiots in Dáil Éireann).

The reason we harbour this undying love for him is complicated and probably multivalent. A lot of it has to do with his Irish "roots" (I'm using inverted commas because, come on, he's as Irish as a Komodo Dragon) and his visit to Ireland last year, which though lasted less than 12 hours, left an indelible mark. Many Irish were swayed by his poise and charm, many more found the story about his great-great-great-grandfather fascinating, and many more were looking for a catchy soundbite to improve their recession-bashed spirts and they got just that with "Is Féidir Linn". 20 months on and there's still tits driving around with those blasted bumper stickers.

Another reason may be a lot more deep-rooted. Democrats are naturally popular in Ireland. The two most loved US President by the Irish, besides Barry, are without question JFK and Bill Clinton. Two democrats. Both with Irish roots. Clinton is loved, in no small part, due to the role he played in the peace process up North, while JFK is adored because A) He visited us B) He upheld the most Irish of traditions - namely, cheating on your wife and consuming large quantities of alcohol. He was, if you pardon the horrible slang, the only Lad president. 

But the democrat, thing, I'm going to run with that for a while. You see every Republican President in the last 50 years has had some form of Irish roots. The Bushes did, Reagan did and Nixon did. Nixon and Reagan even visited Ireland. Reagan is an Irish surname for Christ's sake. But how many Irish do you hear singing songs of praise about good ol' Ronnie or loveable Ricky? There was a song written about Barack Obama being Irish ("There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama"). Countless documentaries have been made about JFK and his Irish visit. Nixon and Reagan don't even warrant an image on the Irish-American wikipedia page.

The Democrats being so popular in Ireland is, like most things, complicated. It probably has something to do with the Democrats being the party for the immigrants and the fact that they produce more interesting and less evil presidents.

It's a a recondite matter. Obama's popularity in the Emerald Isle does not look like waning and why should it? He's got history and propaganda on his side. If Obama does get re-elected, and I think he will, then he'll want to be making a second state trip to this small island so he can sample our Guinness, play with our hurls, sweet-talk our people again and thank us for liking him while half of his native country thinks he's a communist muslim. If he does that we might even carve a Mt.Barackmore on the Cliffs Of Moher for him.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A bearded student is a foolish student.

"Four score and seven years ago... I couldn't grow a beard as lethal as this but look at me now"

Puberty is a troubling time for young men. Our sexual organs become, well, sexual, our once clean, pristine armpits become infested with husky hair, our voice deepens and we begin the long, shallow yet undeniably enjoyable road of objectification of women. 

Nah, I'm messing with you, it's rather brilliant. Much more so than female puberty; that seems a more messy and bloody affair. 

We also begin to grow hairs on our face. We are instructed to remove these hairs at once. Shaving becomes a fortnightly custom by time you hit around 14 (Weekly if you're a bit too eager/insane). But as we begin to creep towards the winter of our teen years we decide, in a bid to highlight our overt sense of masculinity, to forgo the shaving of the hairs and to let the hairs grow in their own natural formation. We try to grow a beard.

Every young, eager fellow has tried it. The manliest of the manly men on television and in films have/had beards. Clint Eastwood. Brad Pitt. George Clooney. And they wear it like a glove. It suits them like the batsuit suits Bruce Wayne. Trouble is, (most) adolescent males don't have the bone structure, jawline, beard growing ability or beard grooming techniques that these men possess. In short, the beards young, idyllic males attempt to grow end up resembling the follicles one might find in an anus, i.e. bum fluff.

Ah bum fluff. The perfect disparaging remark to instantly denigrate a shit beard. It's perfect because it's so very true. It's very, very rare that a young man's beard does not resemble bum fluff. Our hairs have not yet had time to discover their proper formation, our skin far too supple and unblemished, our standards of personal grooming far too lax. An ideal environment for the aforementioned bum fluff to foster. 

And yet young men persist. Venture through any college campus in the country, nay, the world, and you'll find a plethora of starry-eyed, facial hair aficionados and a gaggle of awe-inspired disciples worshipping their shitty face-bristles. It's a status symbol. He who can grow the best beard is the manliest; it's on par with being able to consume large quantities of alcohol or being good at poker. But how students judge the standard of beard is warped; they simply laud he who can grow the messiest, thickest, frizziest beard. 

A female opinion should be sought on this matter. Since I am alone and horrifically single I do not have one at this moment in time but I'd bet my bottom dollar that most of the fairer sex would prefer a clean-shaven beau. Until we reach 25. When we can actually grow proper beards. Then you should grow that shit like it's cannabis in a greenhouse because there is nothing sexier than a man in his late 20s to early 30s with a smashing beard. 

Now I am no Gilette salesman here to discuss their new patented 900-blade system with its lasers and bullets and what have you, it's just shaving is a necessary evil to curb the greater evil that is shit, bum fluff beards. Until they reach 25 I hope the rest of my male compatriots shall subsist from growing a beard of any kind. Stubble is perfectly fine and my rule on beards only applies for 11 months of the year; Movember is high time for beard growing as it's for a good cause of course. 

And any man, no matter what age, foolish, nay I say, evil enough to attempt to grow a moustache should be banished from the realm. A man in a moustache is a man not to be trusted - Hitler, Stalin and Marty Whelan perfectly illustrate this point.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

My view for a new Ireland: We cut off half of it.

We have heard a lot of talk since the recession began regarding what is the best course of action to take to wrestle Ireland out of the financial and indeed moral quagmire in which it finds itself. Cuts, tax hikes, pension levies have all been tried and tested. All have failed. Many international and domestic economists, financial experts and political analysts have been quizzed on what is the most viable route forward. 

But it seems no one has cared to ask what a 19 year old student who dabbles in nihilism, is a keen observer of human behaviour and dresses wonderfully what he thinks. Until now. When I ask myself - What is my vision for a new, better Ireland?

Simple. We get rid of the shit counties. 

Counties evicted and why

Any county that roughly resembles a phallus should not be part of this great isle. Roscommon is phallic in appearance and phallic in nature. A truly disgusting county. It smells like Shredded Wheat that has been urinated upon, so I'm told (I've never ventured beyond its murky borders but I have it on good authority).

What is Offaly known for? Bogs, being the birthplace of our bumbling former Taoiseach, maybe not the man who caused the recession but certainly a man who drank his way through the vast majority of it (at our expense), Brian Cowan and robbing Kerry of an historic 5-in-a-row All-Irelands in 1982 with a last minute winner courtesy of Seamus Darby who blatantly and quite viciously pushed Kerry full-back Tommy Doyle in the back before launching his ball goalwards. A dreadful county, its inhabitants shall be banished to the underworld and any wealth accrued from the destruction of the county shall be awarded as compensation to the people of Kerry.

An utterly pointless county. There is no question that this geographical wart must be expelled from the realm.

Mayo is not a bad county. Nor is it a pointless county. The reason it is being demolished however is it is the county which spawned the devilchild we know call der fuhrer, Enda Kenny. And for that it must be punished. Any Mayoman or woman who did not vote for Fine Gael shall be granted entrance to Galway on the condition that they extinguish that frankly ridiculous accent from their tongues. The Hardy Bucks shall be granted a palace in the hills of Meath. 

See Carlow.

Not sure why I have decided to delete Sligo from existence. Think I'm going a bit power hungry. Their claims that Sligo is a city are baffling and unfounded. This is reason enough. 

Expulsion from Ireland and destruction of their county shall be a sweet escape for the people of Leitrim. For years it has been the butt of everyone's jokes, most notably Dustin the turkey, and the only reason that it is given even a shred of acknowledgement is that it is Ireland's least populated county. And you don't become Ireland's least populated county without reason. A putrid shithole.

A county that has spawned One Direction's be-quiffed and profusely annoying Niall Horan and possibly the most obnoxious arsehole on Irish TV at the moment, Bressie, does not deserve existence. We have one Meath already. The western half of Meath can act as Westmeath if we begin to miss the county. Though that is highly unlikely.

All of Ulster 
Who needs an accent that sounds like a Scottish person being entered anally by both of the Klitschko brothers at the same time? No one. The North have been nothing but trouble ever since the English uprooted the natives and replaced them with troublemaking protestants. We'd have no more Orange parades, no more rebel songs (no one down South sings them any more), no more violence and no more shit accents. And no more Donegal with their strange football and even stranger eyebrows (Just look at Jim McGuinness'). 

How we would undertake the geographical divorce
A massive cutting machine, in the shape of a crane, shall be constructed by Liebherr Cranes in Killarney, Co.Kerry which will go about removing the deleted part of the country. As soon as it is out at sea it will be compressed downwards. We shall do this by employing Mary Harney. She is currently out of work and she has to earn that big, fat pension. She will jump up and down on the floating isle a few times which should generate enough pressure for it to plunge to the bottom of Davy Jones' Locker. 

This lost land shall be marketed as The Green Atlantis and my forecasts show that the revenue garnered from tourists interested in visiting it will not exceed the billions of euro, but exceed trillions. This will end the recession.

You're welcome. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

10 songs that remind me of the Celtic Tiger.

Ah, the Celtic Tiger. Remember her? The Beatles once sang "She Came Through The Bathroom Window". So did the Celtic Tiger. It bundled its way unexpectedly through our collective (metaphorical) bathroom window, performed wild fellatio on us, Ireland, finished before we could wipe down our trousers, plundered our money cabinet and made her way back out the same window it had arrived in. And now here we are, dazed and confused, slumped up against a bath with our trousers down at our ankles, unable to move, hoping that she'll return. Or something like that. Anyway, nostalgia ahoy mateys for these are 10 songs that remind me of the Celtic Tiger.

In no particular order..

1. Crazy World - Aslan

This song was actually released in 1993 but it took on a whole new meaning during the Celtic Tiger era. It was symbolic of our new attitude, our broadening horizons, our blissful inexperience with affluence (It was a Crazy new world for us) and of course, our love of an acoustic guitar being strummed really fucking quickly. Listening to this song reminds me of sunny days out in Dingle with a deep-fried Mars bar in one hand and a copy of the Indo in the other. Reading about the soaring price of property in Dublin, probably.

2. Galway Girl - Mundy

This should probably be our national anthem. Not because I'm particularly enamoured by it (It's a great song but I've heard it too many times) but because it's the only song that EVERYONE in Ireland knows every last syllable to. If I asked you what came after Sinne Fianna Fáil in Ammhráin Na bhFiann, I bet half of you would struggle, but if I said what comes after And I ask you friend, what's a feller to do? ye'd be as quick as Richard Boyd-Barrett telling Enda Kenny he's a gobshite on a cold, brisk morning in the Dáil with a response.

3. Jumbo Breakfast Roll - Pat Shortt

A strange thing happened during the Celtic Tiger. Some people in Ireland, thanks to the increasing American influence on Irish popular culture and the transformation of the country from rural, priest-infested backwater to gaudy, pompous cosmopolitan hub, began to doubt whether we really were Irish any more. This diffidence manifested itself in different ways; people in South Dublin began bestowing Gaelic names like Fionán, Setanta and Cú Chulainn upon their children, the GAA saw a massive increase in popularity and revenue, alcohol consumption reached an all time high. We basically loved anything that was a bit traditional Irish, a bit bucolic, a bit Gaelic. That's where Pat Shortt came in. His comedy harked back to a time of Macaroon bars and Gay Byrne. And that's why Jumbo Breakfast Roll was so popular. That and the fact that we're all fat bastards.

4. Here Come The Good Times - Christy Dignam, Dave Couse, Nicky from Westlife, Dustin and a few more.

Yes children, there was once a time when Ireland went to international tournaments and didn't get the absolute hoop beaten off us. This was an absolute gem of a track leading up the 2002 World Cup. Musically, it's fine, but as a World Cup song it excels as it melded wonderfully simplistic lyrics with a cheery, beery chorus that even the most inebriated of Irish fans could sing along to with ease. Indeed, one of the highlights of the Celtic Tiger, for me anyway, was Robbie Keane's glorious, last minute equaliser against Ze Germans. And that celebration, of course. The song also ironically features the lyrics With Keane to lead us, we have nothing to fear.... Except a crap pitch in Saipan and a man from Barnsley.

5. One Horse Town - The Thrills

I don't know how many times I heard this song being played on 2fm on the way to school. Too many, yet still, not enough. This was a great song that was not killed by overplay, such was its excellence. Released in 2003, this song became the soundtrack to that particular summer. Not because it had some deep, figurative meaning behind it or anything like that, just because it's a bloody good song. It's a song to wake you up in the morning such is the urgency and vigour of its intro. It reminds me of shows on RTE 1 about redeveloping your home. I don't know why, it just does.

6. We've Got The World Tonight - Mickey Harte

There once was a time when we took the Eurovision seriously. We had a big talent show to decide who would go and the song that was sung would be written by someone important and renowned like Phil Coulter or Bryan McFadden. Contrary to popular belief, the Eurovision was still shite even when we did take it seriously. Our most prominent effort came from a Donegal man who won the first series of You're a Star. I remember thinking We've Got The World Tonight was the best song in the world when it was released. The majority of the Irish public agreed with me as it shot to No.1 in the charts and was the best selling song of 2003. In hindsight, I was a foolish young chap. My abiding memory of Mickey Joe Harte is being urged not to  vote for him in the You're A Star final  in the school playground with the charming adage "We love Simon, Mickey go fart." Simon was the other contestant in case you've forgotten.

7. The Langer Song - Tim O'Riordan Natural Gas

The second joke song on the list*, after the Jumbo Breakfast Roll of course, is unsurprising really. The mid-noughties were a ripe time for songs of a facetious nature; the popularity of Gift Grub reached its peak, Jumbo Breakfast Roll was released, in England you had the JCB Song and the Cheeky Girls and in 2004, the Langer Song was released. It's my personal favourite. By far the wittiest, by far the funniest and it even imported a new phrase into the Irish lexicon. The song's standing in Cork is akin to the standing of The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee and it led to a resurgence in a Cork brand of patriotism. Cork people can be patriotic as, of course, Cork is a different nation to Ireland. Reminds me of the Summer of 2004. A good summer. Kerry won the All-Ireland. Sound for spurring us on, ye langers.

*Well music is an abstract concept and as such entirely subjective so to someone else The Langer Song is a piece of music comparable to the majesty of Vivaldi's Four Seasons while something like We've Got The World Tonight is a joke song. It's up to you.

8. Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

The newest song on this list, released in 2007, it just about made it in as, as you are of course are aware, things went tits up economically speaking relatively shortly after this song was released. But anyhoo, it makes it onto the list as it was probably the most celebrated of all the folk-y, acoustic-y tunes that were released during the Celtic Tiger years. And there were a lot. Between Damien Rice, Damien Dempsey, The Frames, Mick Flannery and scores more, we were spoiled for choice when it came to folk-y, acoustic-y music. And this song won an oscar as well. And it's really, really good. Reminds me of Grafton Street on an overcast, July afternoon in 2007.

9. Rocky Took A Lover - Bell X1 

If I were to make a montage of clips that I felt best summed up the Celtic Tiger era, I'd probably use Rocky Took A Lover as the soundtrack. It's so evocative. Like One Horse Town, it's a morning song. An early riser. It's got that great electric intro and the imposing drumbeat accompanying it. It reminds me of Jones' Road near Croke Park on matchday on a warm summer's day in 2006.

10. True Friends - Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club

If there was any song that best typified the attitude and the atmosphere of Celtic Tiger Ireland, this was it. So carefree, so relaxing, so fun; a lot like the Celtic Tiger. This song rose to prominence in 2002 thanks to some phone ad but it's so much more than that. It's the song of the Celtic Tiger. We were so foolish, so naive, so unaware of the shitstorm that was awaiting us after the party finished. It reminds me of a sunny day in Killarney.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Enda Kenny sings 'Primadonna' by Marina & the Diamonds.


This is a new version of the song 'Primadonna' by Marina & the Diamond sung by our Taoiseach, our divine leader, our sagacious sage, our spiritual guide, Der Führer, Enda Kenny. He may or may not have helped me write this.

Fine Gael chief, yeahAll I ever wanted was the DáilI'm not here for the long haulThe Fine Gael life, the rise and fallYou say Ireland's going to defaultBut I say it's Fianna Fáil's faultCan't wait for a second bailout, babeYou can count on me to make you pay
Fine Gael chief!
Would you do anything for me?Pay your household charge for me?Even vote for austerity?Forget the Lisbon Treaty right now, babyGerry Adams on the TV screenTalking shite 'bout my policiesThe poor think he's a real heroThey don't have a clue about the IMF deal though 
The five point plan? Ignore, nore, nore!I really hate Gilmore, more, moreI fuck the poor like they're whore, whore, whoresI am the Mayo lord!
And I'm the Fine Gael chief, yeahAll I ever wanted was the DáilI'm not here for the long haulThe Fine Gael life, the rise and fallYou say Ireland's going to defaultBut I say it's Fianna Fáil's faultCan't wait for a second bailout, babeYou can count on me to make you pay
Fine Gael chief!
Fill the planes up with the unemployed Fuckin' bitches with the Anglo boysGet what they want coz they asked for itNot because they're really that deserving of itLoving Merkel like a heifer loves hayIn the EU we've got to stayThey say our Corporate Tax is too lowI really don't know why that's such a big deal though

Going down, mostly down, down, downLabour are only clown, clown, clownsBy the IMF deal we are bound, bound, boundI miss Sarkozy, he was sound
And I'm the Fine Gael chief, yeahAll I ever wanted was the DáilI'm here for the long haulThe Fine Gael life, the rise and fallYou say Ireland's going to defaultBut I say it's Fianna Fáil's faultCan't wait for a second bailout, babeYou can count on me to make you pay

Use this video to help you sing along 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Ireland and Jedward: A strange kind of relationship.

In the words of Russell Brand, "Do any of you have a friend that, y'know, you fucking hate?" Indeed, I feel this quote best sums up Ireland's strange relationship with Jedward. We spawned them, our society moulded them, we are indirectly responsible for their actions. 

So we feel a burden of obligation, an obligation to protect them and reassure them. But we don't exactly like them. We tolerate them. If you can imagine the entire nation of Ireland as a moody, teenage girl and Jedward as a hyper-active, boisterous, overly-genial younger brother, then you can perhaps visualise the aberrant relationship we have with the blonde-quiffed boyos from Lucan. We don't really like 'em, and we'll knock 'em but anyone who's not one of us who lays even a mere finger on their delicate, well polished and unblemished heads will have hell to pay.

A lot of the ambivalence surrounding our strange relationship with Jedward stems from our suspicion of them. Our distrust of their characters. For starters, we don't really know what they are. They're not Irish. Well not traditional, pale-skinned, Guinness-drinking, Daniel O'Donnell-listening Irish. No,they're far too happy and flamboyant for that to be the case. But are they new Irish? Are they a product of Celtic Tiger Ireland with their happy-go-lucky nature, American(ish) accents and incessant use of the term "Oh my god"? Maybe. Their overly convivial public performances have left many to question whether their demeanour is exaggerated or even put on. 

"It's all for the money!" is commonly claimed by Irish folk when assessing Jedward's overzealous behaviour. I would be inclined to agree. I'm sure Jedward are quite excitable chaps with a proclivity for weirdness and  hyperactivity but come here, take a peek at their X Factor audition. They weren't exactly subdued but they weren't half as ostensibly mental as they are now. 

Would I blame them though? No, not really. They know their market and they/their management are savvy enough to pander to the needs and wants of that market (Teenage girls is that market in case you're wondering. And maybe paedophiles too.). In fact, their contrived acts of eccentricity have actually gained them respect from the ordinary folk of Ireland as many of them see Jedward as shrewd and wise to exploit themselves for monetary gain. The Lucan twins are worth £2m. Who wouldn't act like an eejit for £2m? 

We do feel a sense of responsibility for them too though. The big sister-little brother syndrome I alluded to earlier is a rather apt analogy. I can relate to it on a personal level. 

Let me take you way back to November 2009 when Jedward first impinged on the public's collective consciousness with their 'performances' on the X Factor. I loathed them. They annoyed me, they couldn't sing, they couldn't dance and I just didn't get them. I wanted them out. They had glided seamlessly through the first few weeks of live shows and it was difficult to see their popularity waning. 

Then, around week 5 I believe, the buck was up. They were plonked into the bottom two along with the obviously more talented Lucie Jones from Wales. "This is it", I grinned to myself "It's down to the judges, no way Cowell and co. will save them." When it was crunch-time and the judges were about to make their decisions, I felt a strange sense of emptiness. It was like, this is really it. They're gone forever (Back then, nobody could foresee their popularity lasting for more than a few months). I wanted them to stay. They say you don't miss a good thing 'til it's gone and boy that's how it felt. And then Cowell opted to put their fate in the hands of the public vote. I was flabbergasted. Cowell seemed to hate them(In hindsight, he may have hated them but he fucking adored the amount of attention they garnered). I was flabbergasted but I was jubilant. I knew they'd win the public vote. And win they did.

From then on in the competition my sense of responsibility and caring towards them merely grew. Each week the chorus off boos which greeted their arrival on stage grew and this merely strengthened the hold they had on me. I felt protective of my compatriots. When they were eventually knocked out I felt proud of them and happy that they had had their fifteen minutes of fame. "They can go back to Lucan now and regale their pals with juicy stories about Chezza and Dannii and celebs they've met whilst casually slipping back into anonymity." Except that's not exactly how it worked out. Their fame never waned. Neither did the public's puzzling infatuation with them. And so they began to irritate me once again. And so I began, like much of the Irish population, to scald them and mock them once again....

But that lingering feeling of ownership, that teensy weensy sense of responsibility never wavered either. A lot of the Irish public see Jedward as freaks but in true family-like fashion, we see them as our freaks. Why else would we send them to the Eurovision twice, eh? 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Why I'm not even going to bother voting on the Stability Treaty.

What I'm told the Stability Treaty is about

Stability. That word has now become the bane of my life. I read it in a book last week. I'm not sure in what context. It had nothing to do with the "Stability" Treaty though, I can assure you. It just perturbed me. It was a reflex action, I sensed a speech coming on about "stability" and "stability mechanism" and "austerity". I gagged. A bilious feeling erupted in my stomach. I couldn't take it. After weeks of wall-to-wall coverage my body rejected even the mere notion of the Stability Treaty. In true stereotypically ignorant 21st century adolescent spirit, I just don't care any more. I really don't.

And it's not as if I didn't try. Lord knows I did. Two weeks ago I was all set to register, I even acquired the sufficient forms and had them stamped in my local Garda Station. Being an avowed lefty and a staunch opponent of the government, I was firmly in the No camp. I fervently dislike this Government and their austere policies with a fiery zeal and I wanted to help give 'em a bloody nose. 

The fact that they had opted to christen this treaty the "Stability Treaty" really grated my cheese as well. Twas a masterstroke of ambiguous public relations, I mean, it's hard to say no to "stability", innit? I wanted to. I don't like stability anyway. It's far too mundane and boring. "If the Blueshirts and their Labour lapdogs had named it the 'Anarchy Treaty' I might have gone for it", I thought to myself. Anarchy's not everyone's cup of tea but at least it's a bit of a laugh.

So, if I was all set to emphatically reject the Fiscal Compact, what put me off? People did, that's who. You  know them self-righteous blobs of meat? Them. I grew tired of the debates. I grew tired of the late-night sparring contests on Vincent Browne. I grew tired of the campaign posters, both 'Yes' and 'No' posters, which visually pollute every town in the country. I grew tired of the myriad of pompous, dull tweets by gormless eejits on Twitter.

It wasn't just the folk from the 'Yes' side that put me off the whole campaign, though they did have more than a helping hand in it, the 'No' side helped swing me towards fence-sitting also. The 'Yes' side's campaigning though has been wonderfully vague and manipulative. All they talk about is "stability" and "recovery". They insist on repeating those two words like they're going out of style or the dictionary or whatever happens to old, unused words. Well, the Blueshirts have anyway.

Indeed, I have noticed that the 'Yes' side's posters are a lot more ambiguous this time around than way back yonder in 2009 when Lisbon II was on the cards. Back then, the main parties employed some more risqué posters and catchphrases. Who could forget the picture of a scantily clad man lasciviously pulling down the waistband of his boxer shorts with "ENLARGE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES: VOTE YES" or the equally raunchy picture of a woman clasping two large eggs by her bosoms with the subtly provocative caption "INCREASE YOUR PROSPECTS: VOTES YES" plastered across the front of it? Ah yes, those were the glory days of manipulative campaign posters as back then, Fine Gael weren't despised by over half of the country. They had free rein, now people are less receptive to their jocular campaigning. 

"For a Working Ireland" is the catchphrase FG have adopted for this campaign and, like much of their campaigning, it's wonderfully vague. Posters with the catchphrase in Irish have also been commissioned and those ones state "Don fhostaíocht in Éirinn" which literally translated means "For employment in Ireland". Gaeilgóir Blueshirts more optimistic  or a simple case of lost in translation? You decide.

The 'No' side have also been incredibly annoying. It's not that I don't believe and support what they're saying, I mostly do, it's just their campaign has been a bit of a mess. From enlisting the help of English crackpot Nigel Farage to hopelessly dodging questions on the ESM, it's been a bit of a farce (I don't understand the ESM either but I ain't a politician). Indeed, their insistence on referring to the treaty as the "Austerity Treaty" smacks of childishness too. The Government employed some grade A propaganda (For propaganda read "Bullshit") in naming it the "Stability Treaty" but why not be the bigger man and just refer to its original name, the Fiscal Compact? "Fiscal Compact" has no real misleading or disingenuous connotations to it. 

And then there's the celebrity campaigners. Oh Lord give me mercy. Famous personalities such as Brian Cody, Sharon Shannon, Denis Hickie and Pat Gilroy have been throwing their weight behind a 'Yes' vote while prominent figures in business such as Norah Casey (who appeared on last night's atrocious edition of The Frontline) and Michael O'Leary have also been calling on the Irish people to ratify the treaty. They need to go. Pronto. Cody and Shannon were afforded ads in newspapers by the Alliance for Ireland. Why should we listen to them? What knowledge do they have that we don't? One's a musician and one's a hurling manager. 

Then there's Michael O'Leary, part-time CEO of Ryanair, full-time gobshite who today succinctly branded 'No' voters a "bunch of idiots and lunatics". Remember now, this is the same odious little turd who pushed for a 'Yes' vote in Lisbon II and claimed that the 'No' side in that campaign (More or less the same people on the 'No' side in this campaign) were "unemployable fucking headbangers". Never one to mince his derogatory and inflammatory words is Mr. O'Leary. If anything, his entry into the campaign for a 'Yes' vote to the Stability Treaty will deter would-be 'Yes' voters as O'Leary has the same standing as Bono amongst the Irish people - he's hated.  

I'm told I should feel privileged to have a right to vote and that I should do my utmost to use it as "millions of people the world over don't have no vote" and "people died for my vote". Yeah, thanks for the guilt trip pals. If I thought I was voting for something meaningful, something tangible I might bother my arse voting. But I don't and I won't. 

I've come to the conclusion that I really don't care which way this treaty goes. If I had to choose, I'd choose 'No' but I don't think my Thursday will be ruined if Ireland elects to vote 'Yes'. You're probably reading this thinking, "Huh, typical student. Doesn't care about his country or how it's run or what happens to it...." but you'd be wrong. I do care about my country, I've tried to care about this poxy treaty. It's just a little too political for my liking. For if real change ever comes to this country, it won't be from the ballot box. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

One Direction: The boy band it's okay for men to like?

I'd like to admit something; I'm not too savvy with the whole "being a man" thing. I don't really understand masculinity and I don't subscribe to it. Though I do know one thing, if there is a "dos and don'ts" list for machoism, and who's to say there's not, the adulation of boy bands is near the top of the "don'ts" list. It's akin to being a member of the Klu-Klux-Klan and listening to N.W.A. Boy bands are the preserve of females and any man to breach this sacred code is without question homosexual. Though the times they are a' changin'.
And in One Direction, we have a boy band who are beginning to bridge the gender barrier. (Well relatively speaking I mean, their fanbase is still 99% female but do read on). 

What largely helps with One Direction's male appeal is their accessibility. Boys see One Direction as bona fide lads. One Direction are portrayed by the scribes in the gossip columns as red-blooded, bed-hopping, adult-copping immature yet loveable hedonists. They're seen as almost normal, just a coterie of lads who happen to be in the biggest boyband in the world. Every boy band in the world long for this image but very, very few actually succeed in attaining it. Their characters and personalities don't come across as extensively polished or excruciatingly rehearsed. 

A befitting example of their normality was their appearance on The Late Late Show last November. They made jokes about alcohol, underage drinking, sexual innuendos and when they were given a replica dolls of themselves they proceeded to tear the clothes off the figurines and fix them into uncompromising positions. They came across as the kind of boys you could imagine drawing phalluses on pencil cases and adding the affix "that's what she said" to the end of a mildly sexually implicit sentence. They came across, as well, a bit laddish. This is atypical of boy bands as most are neat, mannerly androids who wouldn't dare make a joke related to sex for fear of alienating their fanbase.

You could, for instance, imagine yourself on a night out with One Direction. You could bring them down the pub and discuss manly things like Roy Hodgson's appointment as England boss and the soaring price of alcohol with them and they'd be able to converse proficiently about said topics. Could you imagine bringing Justin Bieber down the local with you? It'd be like bringing Paris Hilton to the Castleisland Mart. He'd just keep yapping on about 'destiny' and 'dreams' and other nonsensical, meaningless American concepts (I'm aware he's Canadian, shut up). 

Indeed, One Direction's prodigious influence on young male culture has become almost ubiquitous. Take the wearing of chinos for instance. Now One Direction are certainly no chino pioneers, they were not the first celebrities to don the twill fabric breeches, but they certainly popularised them. When One Direction first impinged on the public consciousness, on the X Factor, they were usually seen enrobed in baggy, loose fitting jeans that were tucked neatly into a pair of gaudy high-tops. But ever since they have broken away from Cowell's emporium for broken kids they've become noted connoisseurs of the chinos. 

Take the video for What Makes You Beautiful for instance. All five members of the band are in their best pair of chinos. And even in public and at concerts, One Direction work the chinos. And ever since the influential boy band have selected chinos as part of their regular attire, teenage boys have plundered stores in their droves for the lustrous, twill britches. No I'm not saying there is a definite correlation between One Direction wearing chinos and half of the male-teen population wearing chinos but it has to more than coincidental.

Of course, One Direction are still a boy band and even if they were to wake up in a sand dune in Santa Ponsa with nothing on them but a dickie bow and a smile after a particularly raucous night of booze and partying they would still be seen as a bit soft, a relatively acceptable collection of pretty boys; but still a collection of pretty boys.

While that point rings true, they are still seen as a bit, well, metrosexual, one incident, well it was more like an accumulation of incidents, helped cement their place as, if not the cool boy band that men should like, a boy band that men are permitted to approve of. I am of course talking about Harry Styles copping off with that ol' lass. Or, in more eloquent English, his brief sexual dalliance with the considerably older TV presenter Caroline Flack.

Now this relationship was not well-received by the British Press, or adults over the age of 30, who could not see why a 33-year-old woman would even entertain the idea of courting a 17-year-old boy or even large swathes of Directioners, who are obviously going to be averse to any woman romantically related to any of the One Direction crew. But boys approved of it. Boys thought Harry was a "legend" and a "pure lad" for "pulling" an extremely attractive woman almost twice his age. He was living the fantasy of many a 17-year-old; engaging in sexual relations with a "mature" woman. This brief relationship helped One Direction shed any of their supposed innocence and exposed them fully as red-blooded, sex-thirsty devils. Like all other 17-year-old boys.  

Now don't go thinking that all boys love One Direction and that they are the 21st century's answer to The Who with their hell-raising ways. They don't and they're not. But One Direction is a band that it has become mildly acceptable for men to like. Mildly. Obviously some men would be aghast at such a proposition. Now whether this is down to their affability and laddishness or whether it's down to a different society in which the definition of masculinity is being rewritten, that's up to you. But a change is happening. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

33 Facts About Killarney That Only Killarney People Will Understand.

If you are not from Killarney, do not read this for you will not understand the points being made. Scroll down or use the helpful sidebar on the right of your screen to access my other, similarly brilliant blogs. If you are from Killarney, read on...

1. Penny sweets from the Dungeon are the tastiest confectionery known to man.
They taste like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Ok, so I may have stole that line from the Sound of Music but good lord they taste good. And they only cost two cent a sweet. No bent weighing scales in The Dungeon just quality, ambrosial, delectable sweets. 

2. We want Hollywood back.
And I don't mean Hollywood as in the district in Los Angeles. Any self-respecting Killarneyite should have their hearts set aflutter with they hear a mere mention of Hollywood. You remember it, the video shop on High Street near Maher's Sports. It didn't just sell videos for rent, it sold posters, video games and memorabilia. And most importantly, it sold happiness. 

3. No one likes Dr.Crokes.
Besides themselves obviously. They love themselves. But the rest of the town ain't so fond of our admittedly successful brethren. They're arrogant, they're bombastic and they're unnecessarily ostentatious. For instance, when I was a young'un, maybe around 10 or 11, plying my trade with the more modest Spa GAA, Crokes used to bring capacious buses with leather seats to matches held in Spa even though Spa's pitch is a mere three miles from Crokes'. Just to show off to us country folk I imagine. And they have sprinklers on their pitch. Sprinklers!? In Ireland! Just why?

4. Gooch is still untouchable
Yes our Black and Amber clad neighbours may annoy us but their leading light, Colm Cooper, is  a man whose brilliance supersedes the boundaries of foolish cross-town rivalries. He's one of our own, one of Killarney's most revered sons. The Lionel Messi of GAA, a seven time all-star winner and four time All-Ireland champ, he has enthralled a nation with his copious ball-skills for almost a decade now. And he's from Ardshan, boy.

5. The "New" Church.
I'm talking about the Church of the Resurrection on the Park Road, also known by the strange nickname "The Flying Saucer Church". You see it does somewhat resemble a flying saucer. But my infatuation with it is not its appearance but the name it is referred to by the vast majority of Killarney-ites - "The New Church". It amuses me as it's not that new. It's as old as me, I believe it was opened in 1993, yet it is still almost religiously (Oh ho, see what I did there?) referred to as the "new" church. It's pretty young for a church, the Cathedral has been standing for over 150 years now, but the fact the nickname has stuck for almost 20 years is humorous. In my head anyway.

6. Fossa is run by the Germans.
They own the place. Liebherr. Hotel Europe. The German Butchers. They may as well call it Fosselfdorf. Nothing wrong with it, it's a lovely place. Could do with a few more golf courses though, three and a half just isn't enough. Though if I know Germans like I think I do, they will want a bit of "living space". See that new(ish) Spar next to the Reeks roundabout? Think that's a simple, innocent retail outlet? Balderdash. It's a base camp for expansion. Watch out Aghadoe.

7. Sham.
No introduction needed. A picture paints a thousand words. 
He is to Killarney what Roy Keane is to Cork. Untouchable.

8. Muckross is ridiculously haunted.
Well the Abbey and the house are anyway. Have you ever ventured into the Abbey past sundown? It's like stepping into Silent Hill. Muckross House is arguably as bad. The nursery is apparently plagued by the ghost of a young girl who once resided in the Victorian mansion. Though to be honest the floors are so creaky it could just be the figment of a tetchy worker's imagination. Killarney people are always quick to recognise a monetary opportunity and a haunted tour bus has been in operation for two years now. If there's one thing that Killarney people love it's scaring the shite out of tourists and if you can make a few bob from that all the better.

9. Everyone's climbed Torc Mountain.
We who are fortunate enough to call Killarney home are blessed by some magnificent mountains. And they're actual peaks, unlike those big hills they have in Tralee. They are supreme, imposing, exquisite beasts. Having said that the vast majority of us have only scaled one of them; Torc. Why? Because it's the easiest and there's a pretty waterfall at its base. We'd never bother climbing Mangerton or the Tomies, that'd be far too ambitious for us. 

10. Father Kevin's weight loss was amazing.
Yes, if there was one thing that got the folk of Killarney talking recently it was the astonishing transformation of Fr. Kevin McNamara from lard-arsed servant of God to comparatively thin servant of God. It was a real Lazarus job; if Lazarus was fat and not dead. His dramatic weight-loss was not welcomed by every parishioner though as some commentators claimed that his extreme diet has somewhat subdued his notoriously convivial sermons. How wonderfully Irish.

11. Celtic vs Athletic IS the Celtic vs Rangers of Killarney.
Sparks fly when these two meet, at any level, and there's no surprise that parallels are often drawn between the Woodlawn-Direen rivalry and the Old Firm. Just look at the kits for starters. I was a Celtic boy and I played in many a match against Athletic (Scored in some too). Pre-match team talks were passionate, explosive and tinged with a hint of bitterness. I can recall at least twice Athletic being likened to Rangers. Quite an accurate comparison really; Athletic have no money and nobody likes them. Similar enough to Rangers really.

12. Our Tesco is bigger than Tralee's Tesco, HAW-HAW.
It's much bigger and ours isn't plunked in the middle of a gaudy shopping mall. It's bright, it's accessible, it's open 24 hours a day but most importantly, it's the biggest Tesco in Kerry. Petty I know but we'll have it.

13.We also have Marks and Spencer.
Oh yes. While having a larger Tesco may be construed as somewhat of a hollow victory (It's not that much bigger), possessing a Marks and Spencers is quite the feather in the cap for Killarney. It's not that we're particularly mad about M&S it's just that Tralee hasn't got one. And the only reason we have one is because Tralee Town Council rejected one, much to the consternation of the Tralee people. Makes it even sweeter.

14. Reminiscing about the SummerFest.
It used to be great. We used to get Westlife, Snow Patrol, Bryan Adams, Elton John, Tom Jones, the Cranberries and P!nk. Now we're lucky if we even get Mike Denver. The SummerFest is a shadow of its former self, sure, those artists wouldn't be my personal favourites but they're massive, multi-million pound selling musicians. They put us on the map. Now all we have are a few juggling workshop and a poxy parade. Ho-hum.

15. Kilcummin is the biggest parish in Ireland.
Of course it is. Have you not seen it? Its borders stretch from Currow to Rathmore. Admittedly, the vast majority of that is bog but bog is still land. Of sorts. North Kerry folk claim disingenuously that Ballymac is bigger. They would be mistaken. And anyway, if they are right and Ballymac's land mass is somewhat larger than Kilcummin's, let Kilcummin have  the title anyway. It's all they have besides a post office and three primary schools.

16. Kerry vs Cork in Killarney is the pinnacle of the Summer.
Fitzgerald Stadium is a wonderful venue. Possibly the most scenic pitch in Ireland. Any game is a joy to behold within its sacred walls but nothing, I mean nothing compares to when Cork come to town. It's the only time you feel outnumbered in your own town as Cork bring an army of supporters. The atmosphere, the rivalry, the passion... they're all great yes but the best thing about playing Cork in Killarney? They haven't beaten us in 18 years here. Fortress Fitzgerald Stadium. Oh and the way that College Street and Plunkett Street are pedestrianised for the match does help create a carnival atmosphere.

17. Four Star Pizza Facebook competitions.
It's an impulsive reaction for most Killarney people. Big match coming up, better get onto the Four Star Pizza Facebook and enter into the prediction competition. 2-1 Man Utd. 19-13 Ireland. 2-12 - 1-9 Kerry. It's a PG form of gambling. I've never won, a myriad of people always seem to get there before me rendering my carefully constructed prediction obsolete. It's not just about the free pizza, it's about the prestige.

18. Old names will always stick.
Rebranding and renaming were popular trends during Celtic Tiger Ireland but Killarney folk are a stubborn bunch and as such the old, traditional and frankly better hotel/shop names have stuck. The Malton? Oh you must mean The Great Southern. Quality Hotel? That's Ryan's, love. Euro 2 Store? That would be Pound City, madam. My father has displayed a gargantuan level of stubbornness by referring to Tesco as Quinsworth and The Plaza as The Three Lakes. Impressive, though in fairness, my father still thinks it's 1986. 

19. If you are aged 25 or under you went to the Let's Go summer camp at least once.
Oh it was a wonderful summer camp. They used to visit your school around April time, teasing you with a brochure detailing the plethora of fun activities on offer. It was held in the Pres Gym during July I think and it always seemed to be sunny. Oh the fun we had, sure we played the customary, quotidian sports such as soccer and football but often we would venture into the hitherto unexplored worlds of lacrosse, rounders, hockey and even cricket. And who could forget the heavenly Teddy Bears' Picnic held within the lustrous confines of the Desmene? Just exquisite.

20. Jedward won't go away.
Jedward are like chlamydia; annoying, rash-like and they just won't go away. The INEC has been "graced" by their presence eight times in under three years now and it doesn't look like they'll be leaving any time soon, not as long as prepubescent girls are willing to fritter their parents' money away on tickets for them. My cousin, an avid Jedward fan who has attended all eight of their concerts here, claims that they come back because they love Killarney and they love the reception they get here. They don't. They just love money.

21. The ongoing problem with difficult pronunciations of place names.
Well it's not a problem for us astute Killarney people but pronunciation of place names is a big problem for non-Killarney-ites. Here's a short lesson. Fossa is pronounced Fu-ssa. Spa is pronounced Spaw. Gneevguilla is pronounced Gin-ee-gil-aa. Dr.Crokes is pronounced twats.

22. Fassy fassy fassy fassy Fassbender.
He's ours. Period. Jealous and emulous non-Kerry folk often point to the fact that he was born in Germany as proof of his non-Kerryman standing but he's ours. He went to the Sem and was an alter boy in the Cathedral for Christ's sake. How much more Killarney can you get?

23. No sleeping during Rally of the Lakes.
Atypical for a Killarney person, I loathe the Rally of the Lakes. I am not someone who sees cars as celestial beings there to be worshipped and adored. No. I am more pragmatic in my approach to them. They are machines for transporting me from one to place to another. So when May Bank Holiday rolls around, I shut my doors and my windows and try to block out the incessant rumbling and rustling of car engines that pervades through the saintly Killarney air. Those dastardly boy racer ruining our already terrible roads with their souped-up Fiat Puntos. I dare you to get a good night's sleep during the Rally of the Lakes.

24. Giving tourists the wrong directions is very, very fun.
Especially American ones because you can visualise them pulling a ferocious, exasperated strop when they realise you've pulled a fast one on them. "Gleneagle Hotel yeah? It's out the Cork road past the Minish train tracks." Works a treat every time.

25. St.Finian's scared the shite out of you as a youngster.
It's so imposing. It watches over the town like a pernickety mother and creeps over Fitzgerald Stadium like a serial killer. The architecture of it is archaic and the stories associated with it are abhorrently scary. And every time I used to pass that as a child people would joke that I should be in there. Not funny. Just terrifying.

26. Bird's Bazaar is the Disney World of Killarney.
Okay, as time passes you do become more aware of the Bazaar's limited size and perceptible of the lofty prices of its amusements but come on, it's still a bastion of childhood memories. An enduring part of an ever-changing world. And no matter how much you curse it and ridicule it, you'll still bring your dog along to the Dog Show just so you can nab yourself a ticket for five free rides. The bumpers are fun at any age.

27. The massive architectural mistake on St.Mary's Church of Ireland, Main Street.

See it yet? Oh Protestants, is there anything you can do right? Besides plantations obviously.

28. Bragging about how tidy Killarney is. 
As an acutely proud Killarney man, I will brag about ANY of my town's boons. Our lakes, mountains, national park and famous, Victorian houses are easy routes to take so I like to gloat about more discreet things like how tidy we are. Tidy Town Champions 2011, bitch. I also have a knack for bragging about Killarney having the nicest graveyard in the world; Aghadoe. Quite a morbid boast, I know, but my God it's a nice graveyard. As my great-grandfather used to say, "People are dying to be buried in Aghadoe."

29. The Killarney Advertiser is the bible of Killarney.
It's such an intrinsic part of our being now. The Advertiser. It's been going for almost 40 years and we still love it. The birthday section, the jobs section (which has become increasingly coveted in the past three years), the sports section and I've even become accustomed to reading the "Business of the week" section on a regular basis. The Outlook is a worthy challenger, it does have jokes and Fr.Kevin's column, but the Advertiser is the real winner. Friday evening after work/school the first thing you look for is the latest copy of the Killarney Advertiser. It even smells divine.

30. Ross Road is the D4 of Killarney.
If not the D4 of Kerry. It just reeks of bourgeoisie. Nothing untoward about that, it's arguably one of Killarney's nicest areas. It's just pretty posh. It has a racecourse, a castle and a golf course for Christ's sake. 

31. The Kerry team homecoming is one of the highlights of the year (When they win anyway).
It actually follows a fairly rigid routine, does the Kerry homecoming. Botty, for better or for worse, is always MCing the event and it's his job to placate the crowd. He does this by promising us that "The lads are on the way. They're on the bypass at the minute". He repeats this sentence five or six times with it losing any semblance of credibility with each passing utterance. They're not on the bypass of course, they're still in Tralee. When they finally do arrive, an open top bus parades down the Lewis Road, through College Street before finally alighting in the Glebe Car Park. During this short journey, "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner is blaring through the speakers of the bus. After this the Kerry team celebrate merrily on a makeshift stage, the captain attempts an alcohol fuelled speech, Darran O'Sullivan plugs Ulster Bank and a magnificent course of fireworks pierce the night sky. 

32. 15 year olds spend their Friday nights in Deerpark Pitch and Putt course.
And they're not practising their putting skills either. Killarney teenagers are blessed with an infinite amount of suitable spots to illegally consume their illegally purchased alcohol and Deerpark Pitch and Putt is the most popular spot of all. Probably because there are quite a few bushes to conceal their illicit behaviour and plenty of getaway routes when da shades inevitably arrive to spoil the party.

33. Nobody likes Jackie Healy-Rae or any of the Healy-Raes for that matter.
Let me just clarify one thing, though Jackie was and the equally irritating Michael is an elected politician for our constituency, Killarney is not a bulwark of their support. They may have captured the imagination of the less perspicacious parts of Kerry South such as Killorglin and Kenmare but they are not popular in Killarney. They embarrass us nationally on a regular basis and they wear silly hats. And not good silly hats, bad silly hats. And they won't shut up about that roundabout they built in Lissivigeen. Thanks for that Jackie, now please shut up.