All political business done; Cowen goes to the Aras

So this afternoon we’ll get to know the date set by Fianna Fail for the next Irish General Election. Mr Cowen bows out of politics, but apparently bequeaths his substantial local Offaly inheritance to his brother Barry, who will go head to head with Councillor John Foley. (See the Irish Times for a current list of TDs who will definitely not be back).

Meantime, Micheal Martin almost gets to pull the stroke that brought down his soon to be erstwhile colleague, and appoints fourteen new spokesmen (well, some like Willie and John McGuinness are not so new) to the top table.

For this is a cabinet without a cabinet, at least whilst Cowen serves out his last few hours in office. It could only happen in Ireland.

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  • Not quite his last few hours – Cowen remains Taoiseach until the new Dáil elects his successor. And Martin’s new additions to the front bench are mere spokesmen, not ministers – only the Taoiseach can appoint those. This means that serving ministers are now no longer the party spokespeople for their own departments. An odd situation indeed.

  • 241934 john brennan

    To default, or not default, that is the question.
    Whether it is nobler to repay our debts,
    Or renege and burn the bloody bondholders,
    To soldier on against a sea of troubles,
    To man the breech, suffer the slings and arrows,
    Or just adjourn to the blessed peace of Offaly.

    I have come to bury BIFFO, not to praise him.
    The debts that men incur live after them.
    Their savings oft-times pissed against the wall.
    So let it be. The noble Enda
    Hath told you BIFFO was a spendthrift.
    If it were so, it was a grievous fault.
    And grievously hath BIFFO answered it.
    But Enda says he was a spendthrift
    And Enda is an honourable man.
    Yet BIFFO brought many Euros into Ireland,
    With largesse did he the people’s pockets fill.
    And all got credit cards and spent the limit.
    Then left unpaid another card took out.

    Yet Enda says BIFFO was a spendthrift.
    And sure, Enda is an honourable man.
    I speak not to disprove what Enda spoke,
    But here I am to speak what I do know.
    You all did love BIFFO once, not without cause.
    What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
    O judgement! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
    And men have lost their reason. Bear with me.
    My heart is now in Offaly, there with BIFFO
    And I must pause ‘til it comes back to me.

  • wee buns

    Such noble poetry hath laughter brought.

    Why is Biffo is ‘being driven’ to Áras when surely he should be walking there; he hasn’t missed any dinners, could do with shifting the pounds.

  • Mick Fealty

    COwen, really is going completely, “ag deireadh an la, titim an oiche”… Valedictory comments in the Dail just now…

  • Mick Fealty

    Kenny reminds the house it is La Fheile Bhride, the turn of the year, and a time of new growth.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Eamon Gilmore used the phrase,”Women and men, gay and straight.” In making the distinction, did he really mean not all are included in the same homogneous group?

  • 241934 john brennan

    I will arise and go now
    And go to Offaly.
    Nine bean rows will I have there
    And a hive for the honey bee.

    And I shall be a bean counter,
    For I’m good at counting beans
    And I shall watch the buzy bees,
    As every million outward flees.

    I shall arise and go now
    And go to awful Offaly
    And I shall have some peace there,
    Until stung by a big effin bee.

  • Bard Brennan

    Don’t make it look too easy, two bardic masterpieces in one day.

    You’ll soon be taking the bread out of my mouth.

  • 241934 john brennan

    The first two offerings were just parodies. Below is a Scottish original, from which I borrowed a line. There is a wee town called Effin.

    The Big Effin Bee by Matt McGinn

    He kept bees in the auld toon of Effin,
    An Effin beekeeper was he;
    And one day this Effin beekeeper,
    Was stung by a big Effin bee.

    Now this big Effin beekeeper’s wee Effin wife
    For the big Effin polis she ran;
    For there’s naethin can sort out a big Effin bee
    Like a big Effin polisman can.

    Noo the big Effin polisman he done his nut,
    And he ran doon the main Effin street;
    In his hand was a big Effin baton,
    He had big Effin boots on his feet.

    The polis got hold o’ this big Effin bee,
    And he twisted the Effin bee’s wings;
    But the big Effin bee got his ain back,
    For the big Effin bee had two stings.

    Now they’re baith in the Effin museum,
    Where the Effin folk often come see
    The remains of the big Effin polis,
    Stung to death by the big Effin bee

  • Munsterview

    I first heard this some years back when Frank Dunlop was before the Dublin Castle Tribunal and this was also the time when a lot of builders called it a day, licquidated their assets and fled before the system caught up with them. I think that the title was ‘Finish Free’ and it still sums up much of the current situation

    Finish Free

    I will arise and go now, and go out to Bulgaria
    And a new construction there by cheap Turkish Labor made
    Nine apartments I will buy there and I will get one for free
    and live there all unknown with my Irish tax unpaid.

    And I shall have some peace there, for peace like melting snow
    melts from each Tribunal morning, where some accountant sings
    Here deals to midnight dinner, with brown envelopes to throw
    and evening full of nova rich flying in on Ryan Air Wings

    I will arise and go now, for always night and day,
    I hear Frank Dunlop babbling, I fear he will say more
    whether in my new Jacuzzi, or my yacht out in the Bay
    I am no longer feeling safe deep in my Dublin 4

  • Hi MunsterView

    Old WB has been turned over a few times as in this example, not too dissimilar from yours, quoted in “Unauthorised versions” edited by Kenneth Baker, Faber 1990. Worth picking up in a second handbookshop.

    The Cockney of the North

    I will arise and go now, and go to Inverness,
    And a small villa rent there, of lath and plaster built;
    Nine bedrooms will I have there, and I’ll don my native dress,
    And walk about in a d – loud kilt.

    If they ever want to turn a literary man’s story into a film or TV serialisation then this man is a cracking good candidate for same. Have they ever serialised his life on RTE?

  • Munsterview

    Articles : Thanks ! That was a new one on me.

    While on the subject of WB there is a good essay on the man and his poetry at this site, an unlikely place but WB has a lot of admirers on the Right. Some good information on the Blueshirts there also that you will not find in the Fine Gael election literature.

  • Munsterview

    Articles : part missing.

    RTE have done a number of documentaries over the years, but none that really came to grips with the complexities of the man. I agree with you that Yeats / Lady Gregory and all that scene would make engaging TV.

    There is another aspect to it, this was the last period that Unionist Ireland and Nationalist to any extent rhymed and interfaced on a creative joint path inside a mutually respecting cultural ethos.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Alas, poor Biffo! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
    of infinite jest, big intelligent fellow from Offaly.

    This blog hasn’t worked, because in our heart of hearts we are ashamed of our own folly and made a scapegoat of Biffo.

    There is nothing new under the sun. The ancient Israelites ceremoniously loaded the nation’s sins unto the back of a sacrificial goat, and sent it into the wilderness to be destroyed. We have just done the same to Biffo.

    We all knew the economic bubble could not go on expanding forever. We all told each other that, but just kept on piling up the debts – because the inflated values of property assets meant that our credit was good.

    Brought up in relative poverty, “neither in us, nor on us”, we built mansions in the countryside, drove on motorways to work, in expensive cars, fuel also paid by credit card, one hand on the steering wheel, the other free for electric razor, breakfast from a one stop shop, or mobile phone etc.

    We then bought second homes, some abroad, and flats near universities etc, for our unproductive teenagers – all seen as future investments in an ever expanding economic bubble.

    Then reality! It dawned in America, when banks and mortgage lenders started selling off bad debts to each other and ‘homeowners’ started getting evicted – unpaid debts plus negative equity. It seems every American now owes $7,000 to a Chinaman.

    Then Iceland and its banks went belly up – and many with offshore accounts, including some public authorities here, got their fingers burned.

    Then the biggest private UK bank, Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) had to be bailed out by the Bank of England, which of course is guaranteed by the government – for “government” read “tax payers.”

    And so worldwide economic depression spread to Ireland

    So it is now time for reality, with painful adjustment. But in the meantime we have collectively agreed the first symbolic step towards recovery – scapegoating Biffo and sending him off into the wilderness, his broad back loaded with our collective follies.

  • Thank you Munsterview, I have scanned it quickly, very interesting, and am now going to re-read my WB texts at thw eekend. I’ll be back in touch. Good man .

    Bard Brennan. Prose and poetry! Good man too.

  • Hello again munsterview

    Funny how over the years you let slip some things you’d rather not remember, WB’s dalliance with the Blueshirts being one of them, but at least it can be said this was the lowpoint of his literary output. But you have to look at the man as a whole I suppose and read his work in that light. No doubt about it he had no faith in the collective wisdom of the masses as expressed by democracy but by and large he kept out of politics.

    One thing i’ll never forget is how his wife George, a medium, convinced William that she was the right one for him. To have the spirit world approve their marriage shows she knew how to get her man good and proper.

  • Munsterview

    I was not trying to be political with this, I have recommended that site on Yeats as the essay is well written and it was a good starting point. There are many contradictions with WB : he has penned some fine spiritual and mystical works yet in those per viraga days he experimented with monkey glands etc to attempt to keep his sex life going well after it’s ‘sell by’ date.

    Re read Cromwells Ireland and in particular the line…. ” What can they know that we know that know the time to die ”

    Those lines are a statement that he at least knows of the Mysticism that was at the core of the Easter Rising. How much he was part of that is a matter of contention among academic scholars who are farmilar with this area of study.

    I had the privilege of spending long hours discussing these things with the late Kathleen Raine, a Blakian and Yeatsian scholar in her own home where she was able to reference what she was talking about.

    If you are interested in this area and the whole Golden Dawn Yeaths interface, look up some of Kathleen’s mystical poems and also those of Peter Russell who while claimed as a Brit was actually from Glanmire Co Cork stock. He was another man I enjoyed a decade of correspondence with exploring these areas prior to his death.

  • Thanks Munsterview

    I’ve had an enjoyable few hours this weekend reading up on WB Yeats again and reading his poems.

    I have to admit i had never heard of kathleen raine or Peter Russell before but the Raine/maxwell/otter story rang a distant bell. I will dip in .

    But first i think i’ll invest in a full length biography of Yeats, the one i have by David Ross is very good but short, and get stuck into the man.

    As for mysticism at the heart of the E Rising,again i’ll declare my ignorance again and investigate further. Romantic nationalism, religion , spooky individuals yes but mysticism that’s a very big claim surely.

  • Munsterview

    Articles : “… but mysticism that’s a very big claim surely….”

    Not for those who know and have studied these things !

    In fact my first International academic invite is to deliver a paper on that very subject at International University conference across the water later this year. I did the same for Kathleen Raine behind closed doors during the height of the Low Intensity War. The audience like Kathleen herself were English but were of like mind to mine as far as the Sacral topics of the lecture went !

    (For an eight word question you sure provoked a bloody long reply. However it is a very deep and profound subject and had to cover quite a few areas)

    First a background event. Skellig Michael monastic rock is about fourteen miles off the Southern coast and it can be a rough crossing, even in the summer. Some ten years back a tall bearded well build Nordic type man dressed all in black turned up on the pier and insisted on being taken out. He was also extremely agitated but had an authoritative way

    It was a rough day, the boats were tied up, the man he spoke with was in fact checking his mooring ropes. The stranger would not take no for an answer and offered the hire of a full boat, He also said that the rough waters would be no problem. The boatman took him off the pier just to prove how rough it was, the man faced the wind and chanted a prayer, the wind and waves died in the immediate vicinity of the boat and they made the voyage out in an area of calm surrounding the boat. Once there he bounded ashore and disappeared.

    The boat was again tossed around like a cork and the boatman had to pull off fairly quick . Over an hour and a half later the stranger came back to the Island pier, the boatman pulled again, same as before, prayer chant and a calm sea all round the boat back. The boat man got his full payment as promised and then some more. The man also spoke a little on the way back, he was calm and relaxed, good humored and he also said that he was a priest. From his dress and the cross he wore he was Eastern Christian Rite and probably Russian.

    He disembarked, gave a blessing to the boatman and boat and was into a car and gone as suddenly as he arrived. The boatman got berated in the pub for going out, so somewhat bemused he related the event from first to last encounter with the stranger to his departure and finished his story with ” what ever the devil took him out on a day like this anyway” he wondered ?

    There was a fascinated silence for his story as the boatman concerned was known as a hard headed, practical man and that made his story credible. The silence was broken by an old local man who himself was ‘a bit strange’ ” The devil had nothing to do with it” he said ” Tell me lads” he asked ” If you had something valuable and lost it, what would you do to find it but go to the last place you had it”

    In the words of Yeats “O what of that, O what of that, what is there left to say ?”

    Thomas McDonnagh, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rebellion in his valedictory poem said “His Songs Were A Little Phrase
Of Eternal Song,”

    There are those in Ireland as elsewhere who have always sang and served that Eternal Song and all that it entailed.

    This is the full poem and a link. The second link is a good, if basic overview of the Anglo/Irish literary tradition for those interested.

    His Songs Were A Little Phrase

    Of Eternal Song,
    Drowned In The Harping Of Lays

    More Loud And Long.

    His Deed Was A Single Word,

    Called Out Alone

    In A Night When No Echo Stirred

    To Laughter Or Moan.

    But His Songs New Souls Shall Thrill,

    The Loud Harps Dumb,

    And His Deeds The Echoes Fill

    When The Dawn Is Come.

    In His Final Letter To His Wife Written A Few Hours Before His Death He Said” I Am Ready To Die, And I Thank God That I Am To Die In So A Holy A Cause. My Country Will Reward My Deed Richly. I Counted The Cost Of This, And I Am Ready To Pay It.”

    “His Songs Were A Little Phrase Of Eternal Song,”

    That ‘Song’ is cross cultural, Pierce Ferriter The planter poet was part of it, served it and died for it side by side with the other executed Gaelic Insurgency leaders of the period. That song is at the core of the Jacobite tradition and is accepted as part of Gaelic Culture, I last spoke of it at a cultural event only two weeks ago.

    The Irish Republican Brotherhood was founded by people who in the main were also members of the Ancient Irish and Scottish Order of Free Masonry, their roots went back to the early Colonial days, both to Ireland and to Continental Europe. Those particular Masonic links run straight and clean to the Celtic Church and all that entailed.

    ( I am not getting into the contention here as to Masonic corruption : some branches of the ‘Ancients’ have stayed true to their roots and to Western Christian Spiritual Christian traditions)

    The IRB did not just go off half cocked with a rising, they had over a half century to prepare for it following the failed Invasion Of Canada. Among the areas of expertise covered was that of finance. The group involved in that spend months training in South Africa and travelled back to Ireland via Egypt. They were guests of and were entertained by the some very special people there for a week.

    The Celtic Church only conformed to Orthodox Western Christianity in 1111 AD following a three month conference in West Munster. Prior to that had been mocked as Egyptian since the early Christianity was via the Church Of James and Spain and later the Egyptian Coptic Church among others found refuge here among the dozen to twenty others who paralleled to Celtic Churches in beliefs and practices.

    The Egyptians presented the Irish Delegation with a White Iris to as a mystical symbol for the coming revolution and so it became the ‘Easter Lily’ of Republican tradition. In ancient mythology it was a very potent symbol, some Moslems who share the same tradition took it all over Europe to plant in the graves of their dead. It is a symbol of re-incarnation and resurrection.

    The military Council of the IRB met in the rooms of the Gaelic scholar Cannon Dineen SJ from Sliabh Luachra. He had requested a suspension from his priestly functions and this was granted. What he taught and allowed these Leaders to experience gave them and others selected as potential leaders, indifference to death. He did not resume his priestly duties until some years prior to his own death.

    ( That ‘Sub Rosa’ tradition is to be found all over Europe. I have seen the way stations of this tradition carved out and ‘hidden in plain sight’ in French Cathedrals. I have stood in the ruins of Montsegur in Southern France the last great Catar Fortress where hundreds underwent the same process, came down the mountainside singing hymns and walked still singing on their waiting funeral pyres without the slightest hesitation)

    The First Dail met behind closed doors with only the elected representatives and invited guests to begin with. Before Noon the IRB Central Council emerged in public and the President of the IRB addressed the assembly and told them of what they represented and of how it had been guarded all through history.

    At 12 noon a Sacral Ceremony took place where this IRB group made a solemn new dedication of the Irish Nation to the old ‘Eternal Song’ After that the IRB stepped into the background and the New Dail became the guardian of voice and spirit for the the Irish Nation. That also included all people who regarded themselves as Irish irrespective of where they were in the World.

    This is why Republicans of the period were obsessed with the First Dail, it was not just a political statement, it was all that Irish Sacral Sovereignty entailed. The sad thing is that between 20 and 25% of the IRB at that time were Protestant and of Planter stock. Devs Southern Leinster House was as much of a pervasion of what these people stood for as Stormount was in the North.

    Hopefully in these up and coming commemorations these 20/25% group will be restored to their Rightful place in Irish History. Berties and Cowens Southern Ireland is as much of a perversion of their Ireland and the values they stood for as Robinson’s and Elliot’s is in Northern Ireland.

    For the record, in 1949 after the declaration of the Irish Republic, the IRB records were sealed and are will only be reopened under very spicific circumstances years to comein the future. Meanwhile anyone willing to do the research using the esoteric concepts enshrines in the poems of McDonnagh, Pluncket and others can open lines into these areas for themselves.

  • Hello again Munsterview

    Thank you for your labour, fascinating.

    I am afraid i have quickly realised that I am as much out of my depth as you are at ease but as i say fascinating and I am curious to find out more. I will return better informed.

    Good luck with the paper across the water.

    “If you had something valuable and lost it, what would you do to find it but go to the last place you had it”

    Now that’s a riddle and a half. I’ll be back.

  • Munsterview

    Articles : I have a library full of this ‘sub rosa’ material collected over fifty years, I have had the privilege of meeting and exchanging information with some of the main authors in these areas, I have a good overview but yet every time I become involved in research or debate I am surprised at how much new facts come to light or how these things then and now influence so called ‘ordinary events’

    Good luck with your investigations !

  • Hello Munsterview

    I haven’t forgotten.

    Got hold of the second part of Roy Foster’s biography of WBY. Cracking stuff and I will take my time reading it. Chapter 3 on 1916 was riveting.

  • Munsterview

    Certainly is : This whole area is crying out for a decent sympathetic overview, with the focus on the part the Anglo Irish played in the Celtic Revival. When WB was making a name for himself across the water in his early twenties his father send him a long letter setting out all the arguments as to why he should be part of the Irish Revival at home rather than the British literary scene. He finished with the injunction of “besides it is the right thing to do” !

    Another very interesting book on this period is that on Roger Casement by Angus Mitchell son of Major Mike Mitchell. Angus is sympathetic to the Irish position while his own immediate family background gives him an appreciation of the British Empire perspective also.

    Angus is I am privileged to say, a friend and last year at a Munster cultural event I made my own speaking slot available and recommended he give that talk on a relevant topic of his choosing. He spoke on local Anglo Irish / British establishment power connections and his talk was very well received.

    Last night I spoke with one of the conference organizers : if funding is there we are going to extend an invite to the ‘Deep South’ to ‘Drumlins Rock’ to speak on Orange foundation and ethos and to Moochin and his trusty camera to snap away as he see fit over the weekend. Should be an interesting two way communication if they take it up. If Durmlin do not, you may find yourself ‘volunteered’ for the task ?