Well, it’s started. I glimpsed it first in a news clip, which showed politicians, performers and audience at Dublin Castle, playing and peering through the rain. Then I got a more detailed account in yesterday’s Irish Independent. This was the coalition government’s start of its commemoration events for 2016. They can’t say the Indo didn’t give them a fair wind: “A stroke of genius to kick off 2016 celebrations” is the headline. The description of events continues in the same effusive tone:
“An explosion of passion, youthful verve, energy and sheer talent. With a dollop of U2, Horslips, heart-stirring sean nos airs and bodhrans – topped off with bagpipes and the Lambeg drum”. And, I gather, there was ‘Danny Boy’ near the start and an end-up with ‘Ireland’s Call’. The paper explains that it was all Arts Minister Heather Humphrey’s idea and “it turned out to be a stroke of inclusive and harmonious genius – starting the year off on an uplifting and exciting note.”
Well as they say, not in my name, Heather. Just as the arrival of a policeman always makes a bad situation worse, according to Brendan Behan, a musical recital of U2 can only get worse by rounding off with ‘Ireland’s Call’.
At the moment I’m reading a biography of Thomas Clarke, the first signatory of the Easter Proclamation. He spent fifteen years in an English prison, which explains his sunken features and bent form in any of the pictures you may see of him. The book raises a number of interesting points which I hope to come back to another time, but one thing it makes very clear: the Easter Rising was about armed resistance and self-sacrifice, not U2 or ‘Danny Boy’ or – God between us and all harm – ‘Ireland’s Call’.
We got a whiff of how the south’s coalition government planned to bake the Easter Rising cake when they issued that ghastly video which didn’t even mention the signatories of the Proclamation and had to be withdrawn. This recent unappetising smorgasbord shows that they’re still intent on including the same ingredients with the full weight of Indo behind its every effort.
What was it Shakespeare said? “Methinks the lady doth protest too much”. The Irish public – and that includes those of us north of the Black Sow’s Dyke (thanks, Perkin) – couldn’t possibly protest too much about the saccharine-sweet gruel Enda and Co are clearly intent on serving the public throughout this New Year.
I feel a little ill already.