My beloved Ireland is now dead and gone

Cormac McConnell is a regular columnist in our farming section and this week's contribution has caused quite a stir on social media. We thought, therefore, that we should bring it to a wider audience in the spirit of one of the Irish Examiner's core aims - to highlight diverse opinions and give voice to different views.  Feel free to comment on this story below. 

THE stridentine woman known as Twink jolted me onto a train of thought a fortnight ago. She set me rattling through the dawn of a new era, for me, where I encountered the alleged comic Tommy Tiernan, ‘dying’ on stages all across Europe. 

Then, I physically ventured the few miles up the road from home, to earthy Lisdoonvarna, to get my head together, and, dammit, if there was not a gay festival weekend in full swing up there.

I ran home as quick as I could, and along the way, finally accepted that I truly know nothing at all about the realities of the modern Ireland in which I live. I am a fish out of water. I will almost certainly be sacked from this space before Christmas, and will deserve to be, too.

My beloved old Ireland, which I knew so well, is dead and gone, never to return no more. And that is the pure truth, yet again.

My beloved Ireland is now dead and gone

I knew this country to the core, up until about an explosive decade ago. Hardly a town in the four provinces I had not slept and worked in.

Back then, we all knew the score. The State was in the seasoned hands of the FFers and their supporters, and Dev and John Charles McQuaid controlled them, political strokes were pulled on all sides, everybody went to mass on Sundays, and married on front of altars, before bringing babies into the world to become the next FFers.

The border was heavy with B Specials, you only went to Dublin for the All-Ireland final, there was only one telephone in every townland, and no more than three or four motor cars.

Our twilights were punctuated with the sounds of family Rosaries around the hearth and, above all, nobody used the infamous four-letter word in public, and Twink was young and famous and very beautiful indeed.

It was her quite incredible string of ‘f...ks’ in a Sunday newspaper article about her missing dog, and the later, repeat performance on RTÉ, together with the even more shocking Tiernan documentary, again on RTÉ, which brought me to my senses.

Tiernan must have used the ‘f.....g’ forbidden word at least 300 times. It was his only punch line, as he ‘died’ on stage after stage, across Europe.

That dreadful show focussed me on the other shows across the schedule of our national broadcaster, and finally the scales fell from my ‘f.....g’ eyes. I am sorry, but I am quite unable to write the full word yet, even though it is now all the fashion in this strange new Ireland.

And many of the other shows that our licence fees are buying are equally ‘f.....g’ incredible. The big hit is this Love/Hate series, which frankly dramatises the latest gangland slayings in Dublin as revealed on the news bulletins.

There is a show called Drunk that studies the ‘f.....g’ drinking habits of the rising generation, a guttersnipe class of a series called Damo and Ivor (the very title says it all!), something along the same, low lines featuring alleged Hardy Boys, and, worst of all, there is a ‘f.....g’ show called Fear, which was promoted for weeks with the image of a hardy boyo picking his nose and conveying the product to his mouth. This is the obscene impure truth.

We have also been strongly encouraged to Meet The McDonaghs over recent weeks, late on Thursday nights.

With all due respect to that settled traveller family, I had a bad experience one Monday night, at the Ballinasloe Horse Fair, with Travellers bearing the same surname... not related, of course... and will not be tuning in.

Yes, our land has changed hugely. It is ‘f.....g’ amazing, as Twink might say.

Today, I own a smartphone, on which I can barely manage to make a ‘f.....g’ call, and I cannot text at all.

I can barely operate the two remotes that control the ‘f.....g’ TV, even if I wanted to watch that modern Irishman picking his nose, or to meet the McDonaghs.

Or to listen to ‘f.....g’ Gerry Adams, once again denying any IRA connection. Or the decrepit rump of the once omnipotent FFers criticising the Taoiseach for being clearly unable to smoothly pull off the kind of strokes they were so good at in their day.

Mostly, though, being of my generation and background, I am genuinely shocked and saddened, indeed, by the implications for all of us, across all the scales of life and living, of the rise and rise, across all the media, of the four-letter word, which once was only used reluctantly, and somehow therapeutically, when you hit your thumbnail with the hammer on a Monday morning.

And that’s the ‘f.....g’ truth!


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