Cormac MacConnell: Affairs of state not for the bearded among us

Men with beards: maybe not a great career move.

There was a mirror behind the Tipperary bar where O’Dowd and I were relishing a weekend pint. and talking about the weather and politics. like everybody else around us along the bar.

The mirror very clearly reflected the image of the two grey beards raising and lowering their glasses almost in unison. Then O’Dowd began to speak words of wisdom, after gesturing at our reflections.

“MacConnell,” says he. “You could be correct in saying we’ll have another election soon when all the blethering finishes above in Leinster House. You could be right there.

“But do you know what I am going to tell you now. Suppose, for the sake of argument, both you and I decided to stand as Independents, with the policy platform that we would donate two-thirds of our annual salary to the poor and needy in our constituency, we still would not get elected.

“In fact, we would probably lose our deposits.”

“How do you come to that conclusion?”

“The beards, man. We have hairy faces, and the Irish voters still reject hairy-faced men. And that, as you often say, is the pure truth.”

“Gerry Adams? A couple more of that party. Danny Healy-Rae?”

“Adams is a one-off, an exception, just like Healy-Rae and, anyway, Adams will never be Taoiseach, and will be gone from the scene shortly. You are missing my point.

“Real power and position in this country, and not just in this country either, always goes to lads that are clean-shaven, and haven’t too much hair on their heads either. It is the way it is. Both Enda and Micheál have faces as smooth as a baby’s bottom, for God’s sake.

“And the likely replacement lads for Enda in the next election you talk about, Simon and Leo, sure they are walking adverts for Gilette and Philishave.

“With Micheál Martin, the hair atop the poll is actually visibly retreating every day the current talks are dragging on, and that again is the pure truth.”

“Willie O’Dea?”

“That’s only a moustache for effect, cute hoor that he is, and you can be sure that he trims it twice a day and makes sure it will never develop into a beard.

“Beards are suicidal yokes for political leaders right across the world. Cameron’s face across the pond is like another baby’s bottom.

“Hollande in France has a nearly hairless head altogether, the same with leaders like Putin in Russia and Obama. Use your eyes, man”.

My bearded reflection behind the bar, as I called another round, betrayed my attempt to come up with some class of a worthwhile response, but O’Dowd continued powerfully: “It is not just in politics either, here and elsewhere, that bearded men like you and I will never gain power or wealth. Look at our business world. Has Denis O’Brien a beard?

“No. Michael O’Leary of Ryanair won the Grand National a few hours ago. Is Michael a hairy-faced nobody like you and I? There is not one powerful business tycoon behind a beard in the land. Just look at the pictures in the papers every morning”.

“Okay, O’Dowd.” I said at last. “Your case is well made, fair play to you.”

“Cormac, buy a razor on your way home. It might not be too late yet!”


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