Ireland, Cultural traditions, and Them Next Door

Every now and then, Fintan O’Toole ’s gaze moves away from lofty matters of national import, to consider the state of popular culture.

The result is a National Squirm. There are people who understand VIP and Hello magazine but Fintan, for all his merits, is not one of those people. I still recall how marvellously he missed the point when he wrote about Donegal band Goats Don’t Shave close to two decades ago. It came as news to him that we’d heard of Las Vegas in the northwest.

Yesterday, Fintan focussed his considerable intellect on the Grimes twins, John and Edward (known as Jedward known to fans and haters alike).

The twins, the énimence grise of D’Olier Street declared, are ‘the unbearably poignant last gasp of Celtic Tiger culture.’

‘Wrapped in the magical cloak of self-delusion that is woven by year after year of lavish assurance that you are utterly, unalterably wonderful…Jedward is a detoxified version of the toxic cocktail of arrogance and ineptitude that has done so much harm.’

Fintan is wrong.

Jedward are two young men who have gone to England to seek their fortune. And that is an Irish cultural tradition much older than the Celtic Tiger.

  • John East Belfast

    Not really sure what to make of this article other than he is stretching it a bit.

    However on the same web site I was drawn to the following Irish Time Article of two days ago – on a similar theme – but with more substance ?
    Sorry Gerard for any distraction

    “On these pages last week, Shane Fitzgerald, a young graduate of University College Dublin, wrote about the Government’s failure to deliver on its promise of a bright future in Ireland for him and his generation. Rather than draw the dole here, he left recession Ireland behind him – departing “these bankrupt shores” for London. His experience rang true for many online readers, some of whom reacted with strong antipathy towards our politicians. Here is an edited selection of how they see Ireland and its politicians.

    JAY: BORN and educated in Dublin, I emigrated to Canada in my 20s after working around the British Isles for a few years after graduation. My best advice, based on my very varied, interesting and relatively successful life filled with rich experiences and career choices, is to leave now and enjoy your life.

    Ireland is a disaster. It is sorely mismanaged and misruled and destroyed by its own absurdity. There is corruption in the Government, banks, business, police, law, and even the Catholic Church (Home Rule was certainly Rome rule).

    And it seems we learn nothing. The UK is also in dire economic straits and offers nothing much different from Ireland (how could it?), only with less corruption. North America, New Zealand and Australia (where I now live) are all beautiful, and are happy to welcome people from our islands, their ancestral home.

    It’s all out there for you. Go now while you are young.

    Chris: I signed out of the country in the late 1970s. And stayed out until the 1990s. In many ways I regret coming back. This is a very difficult country to try to survive in. Everything seems stacked against the ordinary person. We are expected to pay, pay, pay and get very little in return.

    There seems to be one law for certain groups in society and a very different law for ordinary taxpayers.

    At the moment I am looking down a very long, dark tunnel as I see no chance of Ireland being able to pull herself up by her bootstraps because we have an absolutely incompetent Government and a public sector which, in the main, is extremely selfish. Worse than that, there are many in public sector who are willing to abuse their power to punish the private sector or those who have become unemployed.

    I don’t blame young people for leaving; what incentive is there to stay? Even if they work hard all their lives and pay their taxes they will never attain the security or standard of living of the Nordic countries. Waving goodbye to our young will become increasingly normal. And once they experience the good life they most likely will not want to come back. It seems to be Ireland’s tragedy and her fate.

    Catherine P: I am currently making plans to leave this country, with no hope of ever returning to live here. I did not take part in any of the insanity of the last few years when I was working full time; I have no debts or mortgage. But I am one of the many that is paying the price.

    I have seen precious little indication that the current Government or Civil Service have the interests of the country at heart. All I have seen in the last 12 months is the usual self-involved behaviour that has become more endemic in this country.

    Paddy Behan: I left Irish shores two months ago now, along with my wife and five-month-old son. I left a permanent teaching job in the heart of Kilkenny. I was very happy and content, my wife sadly was not. So, here I am now, no more that one mile from the beach, earning €80,000 tax free a year. My wife has a good job and is being treated with respect.

    My son has his own nanny, at a fraction of the cost in Ireland. Good, Catholic Ireland, eh? My advice is get out while you can. The metaphor of rats leaving a sinking ship invades my mind every time I think of home. Sorry, but that’s the truth. I wish you all the very best of Irish luck, whatever that means nowadays.

    Joe: Ireland is a very complex country, regulated by a rigid, mostly unspoken ideology; an ideology that looks confusing, contradictory and even idiotic to those who don’t benefit from it, and as natural and as just as the holy law of God to those who do.

    Robert Browne: I have every sympathy with Shane Fitzgerald and the shame is clearly on our useless and utterly corrupt Government, aided and abetted by the likes of Ictu.

  • snail in a bottle

    “I emigrated to Canada in my 20s after working around the British Isles for a few years after graduation”

    disgusting. that you would use such an offensive term to define whence you came just defines the sort of ignoramus that you are. go gloat in the fact that we have won in amplitude significantly more nobel prizes in literature than you (babacas). ha ha. go and get off our island. i guess you won’t because you’re probably a tory.

  • snail in a bottle

    John East Belfast

    Would you care to engage in any of the subjects here being brought up or would you rather reproduce “ipsis litteris” what you think is relevant to North of Ireland society?

  • Sorry Gerard for any distraction

    Not everything has to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to Jedward.

  • The Truth

    He says that he worked around the British isles, so did he not work in Ireland atall then, or did he work in both Ireland and the British isles. He sounds like a moaner anyway.

  • greagoir o frainclin

    Jaypers, the amount of IRISH that are successful in Britain.

    Sure they love us!

    (Well, bar some cranks from the north of Ireland).

  • Fascinating responses from snail in a bottle/The Truth.

    Is there *anything* you guys can’t boil down to a ‘provincial argument’?

  • borderline

    provincial argument GC? You dragging up that whole NI/Ulster thing again?

    Give it a rest, will ya.

  • @borderline,

    Tweren’t me, I was talking about Jedward

  • Republic of Connaught

    Irish people will always have the desire to travel and experience foreign lands whether it be for recreational or economic purposes. It’s in our nature and the history of our people to want to see the world.

    We get a great reception in the USA; the greatest country in the world. We get a great reception in Australia, our cultural cousins. We even get on well with the English nowadays which means a trip to London, one of the world’s greatest cities, is seen more as an adventure than an economic necessity. The French always receive the Irish warmly opening the door to beautiful Paris.

    Ireland is a 32 county island which is no bigger than West Virginia in the US. Imagine living in West Virginia all your life and not going to experience New York or London or Paris or Australia if you could?

    Ireland has enough bogtrotters; getting rid of many of them is no harm whatsoever. Long may it continue. It’s our foreign policy, after all.