Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Recession My Arse

Well here we are, in the depths of a recession, so deep in it in fact, that it's like being in a bungee freefall, without the bungee cord. So entirely fantastic and in-credible is it that it's probable that nobody could have predicted it, not even Nostradamus. Well, nobody, y'know, nobody that is...unless you exclude the new cross between Houdini and PT Barnum, aka, Bertie Aherne..yes, that nice man from the Northside, who comes up smelling of roses no matter what pile of shoite he emerges from...try this for prodnostications and procrastinations... as Juno was wont to say!
'Hey when I grow up, I'm gonna be a politician and take brown bag bribes and then become 'Taoiseach' or Prime Minister of Ireland...and no tribunal will ever convict me'.
'Hey, and if they do question me about the bribe money, I'll just say that I won it on a horse, whose name I disremember, and I was paid out in cash, and no one will raise an eyebrow'.
Hey, I'll leave me house, me car, me bank accounts, me wife and me 2 young girls..and yes, in Ireland, yes holier than thou .mother-effin oireland., I'll take on a very public mistress and bring her places with other lads and their wives and mistresses...and no one will even say boo..'!
'Hey, and when me girls grow up, one of them will marry a millionaire popstar...and Hello Magazine will pay me for their wedding photos, and the other one, me favourite, will become a best selling chic-lit writer, making millions on her drivel'!!!
'Hey, I will run the country in times of unprecedented 'Boom'...(I love that word, usually follows a bang)...and I'll make lots of dosh for me and especially for my buddies, and I'll spend everything the country has made in de decade of decadence, on poor investments and jobs for deboys, and just when they think 'it cannot get any better than this' I'll prove then right and pull out of office, just right before the shoite hits the fan, but only to wild and exuberant praise and applause'.
'Hey, when I do retire, em' I mean resign, I will hand over the running of the country to an otherwise smart and nice guy, a suckling pillock from down de country, who will completely fall flat on his face, before he even gets off the starting blocks, poor bollix'!
Oh, and my last prediction;
'Hey, when I'm done with all of that, and having done the country some service, I believe I am going to be appointed President of Ireland, hmm, maybe in 3 years time. Arais ins an Aras, Aris!
Any Bets?
Watch this space!
Recession...what recession...a tour company just went bust in Dublin today...with 1200 paid bookings for people (with way too much money obviously, duh), to visit ..wait for it...the North Pole, in Lapland @ €1,000+ per person...!
And tell well educated jung people of Ireland, since when did the feckin' North Pole sink south to shanggin' Lapland. Gimme a break!
Aah, I suppose if you swallowed the Bertie Fairy tale, you are entitled to still believe in Santa!
Recession my arse!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Whining for a change

‘I’m the whiniest man in Ireland’, or so intones a spot-on Eddie Hobbs sound-alike, in a rather irritating advert which is currently running on radio here. In the 30- second slot, Eddie drowns out any other thoughts that may, until then, have been forefront on your mind, his high-pitched Cork accent, nail-scraping layers off your car’s wind-shield, as he aliteratively whinges on and on, in that nauseous nasal twang of his, about the cost of calling directory enquiries. Well I have news for you Eddie. ‘Get ready to defend your whiney-man title claim’!

If there were a Whiney Olympics, I honestly believe Ireland would be a shoe-in for the Gold medal in several events, the short sprint shrift, the marathon moan and even in the decathlon diatribe. ‘Yeah sure’, I hear you say, ‘but what about the whining Yanks, or the whingeing Israelis (sic), or better yet, the bleeding, bleating Poms, sure wouldn’t any one of those groups leave us in their wake in a whining competition’?

Admittedly, they have a head start on us alright, given their well-deserved reputations for whingeing on about the littlest things, in their oh so lacklustre lives, but when it comes to the whining stakes, despite their early pace, they don’t stand a chance once the Joe Duffy team trundles off the blocks and they start moaning their miserable way around the course.

These are the crème de la crème of whingers and whiners. So undeniably ‘bad’ are they at complaining, that there is serious suspicion they are on steroids, haemoroids or some other complaint-enhancing drug. Their talents are not limited to individual prowess in the supplication stakes either, for they are equally good at the team sport of collective whining! If Eddie Hobbs is the Rona O’Gara of whining, then the Joe Duffy Team is the All-Black’s A-team of curmudgeoning.

I have a mental picture Joe Duffy in my mind, seeing him as a Dublin-accented Radar, his Mash unit bombarded by volley after volley of ‘Incoming’ whiner’s calls. ‘Me mammy died in 1998 and I am still getting bills for her mobile phone’. ‘I can’t get parking outside de Social Security office for me Merc’. ‘Me house was repossessed be the bank last week after I offering to mind it for them for a few years for nuttin’! ‘Since the Gardai frightened my feckin’ dealer away, I have to pay for a bus-ride to O’Connell Street for me fix’. 'I got my nails done 11 times that weekend in Coco Beach, so I could prove to the lads back in FAS, that black nail varnish dries much faster than red or pink'.

Why even our politicians are getting in on the act, moaning about how much time they have to spend in the Dail, and how many clinics they have to do, the lost weekends, the feigned attentive listening to the shameless supplications of their cantankerous constituents, and all for such a modest salary, not nearly enough for the unsocial hours and the constant ear-tugging.

Indeed, such is the age-spread of our curmudgeons, that it is obviously a cradle to grave skill-set. Actually, I believe that our penchant for whining begins at the cradle…let me paint a picture here for you, the enormous neo-Georgian house in the countryside, the matching BMW X5's, the nursery wing, the hand-painted cartoon scenes on the walls, the inspiring mobiles on the ceiling, the smell of Johnsons baby powder, the pale moon face of the Russian nanny, leaning over the cribside and whispering ‘Phfats the matter, my preety leethel whiney Irish babee...Gripe?'

Yes, I blame it all on the foreigners…oh, and on all them cute hoors from Cork! Hmm, now there's a thought, maybe Cork should offer to host the first ever Whiney Olympics. Rename Millstreet to Moanstreet. Michael Martin could open it and Eddie Hobbs could be the host!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

St Patrick climbed a mountain and so did we

Hello hello hello!?!
Such a funny word to shout from a mountain-top, and listen for the echo. There was no need for any such exclamations last week when my son David (9) and I climbed Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain, for the hillside was alive with talk and prayers and all kinds of accents and languages. Yes some hardy pilgrims even climbed it barefoot!
I was in the pub Saturday night talking to a new friend Peter, when he mentioned he was 'Doing the Reek' in the morning and how he used to start at Murrisk, but now prefers to take the slightly shorter and less travelled route from the back of the mountain, the eastern slope as it were. He said he would travel by Leenane in the morning on the way over, turn off at Delphi and make his way from there. I reckoned I'd still be asleep long after he had summited.
No such joy. Wide awake by 7am, I hit off to Galway and collected David from a sleepover at Granny's and then hit off. The ancient route of the Tochar Way pilgrimage was from Ballintubber, through Partry, on to Aughagower and on up the mountain. Patrick stayed 40 days and nights and was assailed by all sorts of temptations and dark thoughts. No way were we going that way, so we drove the ancient route, passing walking pilgrims on the way in glorious July sunshine and showers (the traditional 'mixed bag' of weather, the four seasons in one, rather like the characters in 'stones in your pockets'.
At Aughagower the village was was only 10 am after all. Already the picnic table under the ruined round tower was occupied by a savvy French family, munching their dejeuner, al fresco. I was really taken again by this tranquil spot, with its four graveyards, separated by three tiny pubs. Nice of them to offer spiritual sustenance. The carved face on the lancet in the ruined church gazed warily at our pilgrims garb, no doubt he's seen it all before. The view up through the ruined round tower looked so like a well, but inverted. I am sure there was magic there had we but waited a while.
We left Aughagower on a winding back road and after almost pranging twice with too-fast escaping locals, we arrived at the base station at the back of the mountain, from where all the medical and mountain rescue folks on the hill on the day are marshalled. The Irish Airforce's latest helicopter was ferrying a few unfortunates off the mountain when we arrived. It's one impressive machine, and visible proof of our tax euros at work.
The climb was euphoric...whew, we made it. I was so out of breath initially, but soon got a rythm going. We made the climb, and 30,000 others also did it that day. Most had fine weather but the later pilgrims had low cloud to contend with...and I mean low, literally half the hill was covered in grey clouds...dangerous and takes from the views...and the views are what makes the climb up the Reek so special.
Met Dr. Paul Nolan at the half way stage, at the medical post were he does his thing with his team as medics on the mountain each year. I could tell he was enjoying every minute of it, his A&E on the Reek....sort of an Irish version of MASH. The volunteers from the IMR to the Order of Malta all were superb.
David was a mighty man a regular little Sherpa, no shirt, dashing over the loose shale and rocks like a Kerry goat! He had a blast, what a joi de vivre. He was all for swimming at Glassilaun beach afterwards, but the day eventually took its toll and he fell asleep as we drove home to Barna and Paddy's Cross via the stunning lake and mountain scenery around Doolough and Delphi. Has to be seen to be believed. Ireland still has the capacity to surprise, enthrall and inspire...yes, it was a drive through heaven, having almost expired and gone to hell and back on the mountain climb!
Driving through Leenane, stopped off at Hamiltons and Gaynors for a pint and a choc-ice. Thought fond thoughts of Joe Gaynor and the old Blarney days, all gone now, with O'Leary in the grave. Pretty soon we were back in Galway, and sipping pints where we left them the night before in the Twelve. Another day in Ireland with nothing to do!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Paddys cross sometimes, sometimes not

'Nurses up in arms at shoddy treatment by National Lottery'.
Nurses across the nation had the mercury boiling in their thermometers at their perceived slighting in the recently launched TV advertising campaign for the new Millionaires Lottery, which will cost €20 a ticket and be limited to only 300,000 tickets. (See the actual TV advert on )In the expensive TV ad campaign, a covey of innocent-looking, younger nurses is shown dancing suggestively to a tongue-in-cheek C&W song in a public maternity ward, wearing retro-white uniforms and caps, while slavishly sucking up to a fat, wealthy, adult male patient, playing the new-born baby millionaire. The unfortunate skit resembles a cross between a Benny Hill-esque soft-porn movie and a drawing of the winning tickets for the 1963 Irish Hospital Sweepstakes.'I haven't felt so embarrassed for my profession since that 'Carry on Nurse' picture was shown in the Adelphi in 1968' said Molly Maloney, a nurse manager at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. It just goes to show how much our nursing degrees and professional code of conduct is valued in Lottery HQ. They must have been speaking to someone in the HSE. Next thing you know, they will be showing us doing the bed-pan boogie in A&E, to a tune from Riverdance. I am going to call on my fellow nurses to boycott the Lotto until they withdraw that denigrating advert. Bunch of chauvinist pricks. They ever going to show male nurses in that ad? I doubt it! How equal an opportunity would that be?’A spokesperson for the RMA (Retired Matrons Association) who wished to remain anonymous said 'Those Nurses were a disgrace. That sort of thing gives nursing a bad name. That degree of sucking up to a patient would have been reserved for Priests, Bishops, Hilton Edwards, Gay Byrne and the wives of senior politicians in our day. The cheek, imagine where that sort of behaviour would lead? Why it's no wonder our dear consultants cannot get a private bed when they need one for a real emergency like swollen ankles or a botoxomy.'The Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses' Association chairman, Liam Doran was fit to be put in a straitjacket, saying his hands were tied, but he would like to see how health Minister Mary Harney would react if she and her cabinet colleagues were shown in a TV advert, goo-ing and gaa-ing around their fat new Taoiseach in the manner the nurses did over the newly-minted millionaire. 'I’m delighted they didn't cast any of my psychiatric nurses in that advert, or the whole place would be shut before you could say Kent Station Cork'.A Senior Secretary in Prof. Brendan Drum’s HSE HQ thought the nurses looked very comely, hmmm, very comely indeed, in their nice tight uniforms, but he wouldn't be drawn any further on the matter, saying he couldn't comment, on or off the record as his job might be on the line. A spokeswoman for the Irish Patients Association pointed out that 'those little nurses hats are a source of MRSA and those blue cardigans don't come with shoulder pads, they shrink and pill too easy and anyway they were probably made by sweat-shops in Burma and only contributed to perpetuating poverty in the third world.' Pavee Point's spokesperson was not available for comment as he was attending the first annual Lakota Sioux International Casino Franchise Convention at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. However he later issued a press release, bemoaning the lack of a Travelling Nurse or even a token Nigerian, Roma or Phillipino in the cast of the Millionaires Lottery ad and they would be raising it in the Dail, if they ever got past security.Meantime the National Lottery said they had no comment to make. However when pressed, their spokesman Kip Delally, went on to point out that the National Lottery intended to call a halt once and for all and curb Clubs and Charities raising funds for themselves, by running illegal €20-a-ticket limited raffles. 'Those cute feckers are trying to circumvent the perfect political patronage system we have built in partnership with FF and the PD's, where TD's get to dole out Lotto funding for their pet parish projects, like it was their own money'.

He then went on to add. 'We will beat those Clubs at their own game. There won't be a single Euro left in their members’ pockets by the time we are finished with them...and never you mind the nurses, we fairly showed them the last time they went on strike. Not a red cent will they get for appearing on our advert. They should be happy we let them on the TV at all. FYI

The Irish National Lottery sales during 2006 were €679.1 million, up some 10.2% on 2005. A total of €362.1 million was distributed as cash prizes. Operating costs in 2006 represented 14.6% of sales, or €99 million, which includes €42.1 million paid to retail agents in commission and bonuses.Does anyone really know where the balance of €118 million went to? That’s an awful lot of pork and a hell of a lot of pocket votes! No wonder we don't have a proper stadium, school gymnasium or 50 metre pool in any county. And now the Lotto is adding yet another game to their offering, one that directly competes with Club, Charity and other Association fund-raising? The life (and the money) is being sucked out of local communities with every keystroke of this government's term.

I dunno guys.... Down with that sort of thing!***************************************More info on Lotto Ireland? and

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Does the ‘Real’ Ireland Still Exist?
You have probably noticed that Failte Ireland have been marketing the attractions of Wild Connemara in a very adventurous and catchy ad campaign over the past 3 months, (it's actually doing a great PR job for the entire western seabord and I suppose this fop is a fair crack at addressing the down-grading of Shannon debacle and the general fall-off of domestic tourism), so it was good to see that our little piece of heaven was picked up overseas. Yes, Connemara - nearly, made the NY Times yesterday.

The NY Times article captures a visitor's eye snapshot of lots that is beautiful about the west of Ireland. It's interesting, accurate and articulate. What a pity the NY Times travel writer, Dan Barry wasn't more 'fiorr Conamara' oriented. His article focusses more on the Burren and Kinvara than anywhere else. Was he afraid to drink the clear waters flowing off the Connemara mountains?

Still, at least he made it all the way to Cong, albeit that he promptly fled back to the safety of the Burren, as soon as he had filled up with our $7.93 cents-a-gallon petrol in O'Connors, perhaps for fear that the well known Connemara gangsters, the 'Furious O'Flahertys' might capture him, and hold him to ransom for his Remington, or the contents of his gas-tank or something.

I was also particularly taken by the potential new business opportunities he identified, particularly the need for Connemara Tourism to hire local lads, and send them droving white-clotted flocks of sheep on boreens all through the west in order to preserve the original 'rush-hour' Ireland feel for visitors to snap-shoot. (We locals have of course moved on in our driving tastes, we get to savour the new rush-hour Ireland twice a day, every day, so we won't be hankering after the past too much, our idling purgatory is so much better).

The elusive eco-minded, double-jobbing fisherman in Kinvara no doubt will be tracked down by a smorgasbord of agencies including the Revenue men, the Department of Fisheries, the Water Safety authority and the Health and Safety folks, all checking his Tax clearance certificates, CRO registration, Safe-pass, Boat registration, Fish-quota licence, Salmon tags, helmet, lamp, lifevest and marine insurance. I'd not be relying on him much longer for me crab-claws and leaping mackeral filets.

Dan Barry really ought to be given a 'Presidential' award for his perseverance in finding Ireland's rarest commodity, a rural pub that was still open for business, despite the Government's best efforts to erradicate them all. Well done Dan. Never fear though, with this publicity, Fahy's Travellers Inn won't survive much longer now that the Traffic Corp's random breath-testing flying-squad have gotten wind of it, that pub in the stamp sized village of Nogra wont be slaking travellers' or for that matter, any other drinkers' thirsts much longer. ( and speaking of stamps, sure didn't they get rid of the Post Office there last year too).

Dan writes with great insight about Kinvara and the Burren, sensitive stuff, empathic, well researched. All quite positive. His comparison of Gort and Kinvara's million dollar sub-divisions to Levittown, Long Island, is one that I disagree with. In fairness to Levittown, the average house price there is less than $350,000, so we won't be seeing mass migration of settler Americans here anytime soon. Good job too, where would all our Brazillians and Poles go?

Dan also paints a very pretty picture of our restaurant attractions, lauding our seafood especially, now that the French have finally let us have some, now they have tightened their belts.. Dan loves his fish, including that new yuppie dish, 'Surf'n'Turf with Celtic Tiger (prawn) sauce'. He also lauds the new Irish salad of 'Helicopters, Lobsters and Oysters, served on a bed of thieves ('leaves' I meant sorry),'. The poor-mans staple of a 'Pint o' plain and a ham samidge' was really so out-dated anyway, wasn't it?

All in all, Dan captures the magic and mystique of Ireland perfectly. Our new Ireland is so much more, well, y'know, it's just so much more! However, I am still trying to figure out whether Dan was writing tongue in cheek. I suspect he might have a point. 'Romantic Ireland's dead and gone. It's with O'Leary in the Algarve'

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stormy midnight

Urgent gale-hail bansheeing the house tonight gives voice to the swelling tide below at Blackrock, the waves aspume, at times astride the diving boards, sparking brightning stars, startling scudding clouds, hooping dolphins, harrowing the retreating wake, rattling the rounded speckled stones, echoing mackeral scales and herringbones, resisting the white-horse pull of the untamed atlantic soul, demanding, demanding, demanding to be heard above my submarine breathing, drowning in my own ebbing tide.
00.22am March 29 2008