Dana Demolished: Patrick Freyne explains everything

Did you watch that RTÉ programme about Dana last night? I did, because like Reeling in the Years, it reminds me of where I was at the time. As it happens, I was in a pub-restaurant outside Dublin, and when the word got round that Dana had won the Eurovision Song Contest, the place was buzzing with pride. 

 But Patrick Freyne, reviewing the programme in today’s Irish Times, is clearly going to give this girl/woman the thumping of her life.  He describes her

 A softly spoken Derry schoolgirl beloved by nuns, sitting precariously on a high stool and devoid of “limb-notions” (dance moves), she is the demure portrait of itself that theocratic Ireland keeps in the attic.”

Patrick then goes on to explain how stupid the song is:

 It’s a strange sentiment for a love song – “You are so unspecific to my mind that all objects and concepts evoke your memory” – but I’m not sure the nation that sent Dana out to sing it had a very concrete idea of love in the first place.”

At which point I find myself crying aloud “For fuck’s sake Patrick, Dana didn’t write the song – Derry Lindsay and Jackie Smith did. And if you’re only twigging that Dana didn’t write it now, you should get out more (and don’t plead lock-down). It wasn’t intended as a dissertation on the nature of love, it was intended as a Eurovision Song Contest song, which by definition means it’s going to be pinkety-poink simple.”

When we get to the political end of Dana’s career, Patrick is even less impressed. 

She was a politician who, for all her apparent softness, vigorously represented conservative Eurosceptical Catholics opposed to abortion and social change. She cared deeply about these things. She can’t suddenly be rebranded as a gently-political light entertainment figure for the purposes of a documentary.”

This is the nub of it. Patrick is doing what liberals so often do and which stinks of hypocrisy: you can have any view on life you like, but if it’s not contemporary liberal and especially pro-abortion, you’re Dark Ages and disgusting. 

I was talking to a man yesterday and he said the one thing he liked about former Irish ambassador Ray Bassett was that he had the courage to swim against the tide of contemporary opinion. (Check my Zoom chat with him and you’ll see what he means.) I feel the same way about Dana. There are many things about her, starting with her songs and continuing into much of her politics, which I disagree with. But I’m happy to accept that she’s entitled to a point of view different from mine. 

Clearly that’s the one thing Irish Times liberal thinkers like Patrick will not tolerate: if someone doesn’t accept the full liberal package, they’re stupid and benighted and probably dangerous. 

Enlightened liberal thought sometimes comes so close to fascism it’s frightening.

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