OF course the Dublin media, which is expert in all things – particularly anything to do with propelling a boat with oars, knew all the time of the incredible racing skills of Skibbereen brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan. Problem was: it just didn’t reveal the highly-prized info to the rest of the country!
Perhaps the metropolitan sports pundits were suffering a sort of Cameroon football syndrome. As with Gary Lineker’s famous assessment of the Cameroonians, the West Cork Olympians weren’t underestimated, dontcha know. They were simply better than they thought!
Natch, then, that the Dublin sports pundits assessed the two brothers as ‘promising’ oarsmen, even if the analysis was akin to a description of young landlubbers pretending to be gondoliers.
After all, decades of disappointment for Irish rowing, when not even an elitist sniff of an Olympic medal floated into the capital, ensured that the Dubs were not going to take those two cheeky chaps too seriously – an attitude reinforced by the fact that rowing was the only sport that originated as a form of capital punishment.
And, even when Skibbereen Rowing Club surpassed Dublin’s Neptune Rowing Club at the top of the table, where Neptune had been since the 1800s, the signs were ignored.
Only the best
Because, as sports editor Kieran McCarthy observed last year in this newspaper, ‘under the guidance of Dominic Casey (the O’Donovans’ coach), the West Cork town has become a breeding ground for the best and the brightest in Irish rowing.
‘Skibbereen spirit separates Ireland’s rowing heroes from the rest,’ said McCarthy, putting his finger bang-on why rowing is enjoying an amazing resurgence in West Cork.
The reason why this should be the case is not hard to find. At the heart of the matter is the progressive ideology of Skibbereen Rowing Club.
Not for them the typically defeatist Irish mentality that goes something like this: ‘if you don’t succeed, try again, and then quit. No sense in being a bloody eejit.’
Which is not to say that our man in Dinty’s disagrees. He’s of the old stock and has his own sardonic, Liffey-side ‘take’ on sculling, feathering, catching a crab and other aquatic diversions that require considerable physical exertion and competition.
For instance, before news broke of the O’Donovans’ achievement, he had suggested that rowing would be much more attractive if the rules were changed to allow boats ram each other!
So, here’s a song to commemorate the great event (sung to the air of Jimmy MacGregor’s ‘Football Crazy’):
Oh, they’re row-ing crazy, they’re row-ing mad,
And the rowing it has robbed them of the little bit of sense they had.
And it would take a dozen skivvies, their boat to wash and scrub,
Since the Donovans became members of the famous rowing club!
Now that we’re in the Silly Season, here’s something to tickle your fancy, although people of a squeamish nature should turn to the entertainment section.
Nothing, it seems, deters Waterford TD, John Halligan, from using language like a trooper. Now a Minister in Dame Enda’s government, Halligan is somewhat of a loose canon in the sense that his descriptions of political rivals tend to raise eyebrows.
The former vice-president of the Workers’ Party, and close friend of Cathal Goulding RIP, likes to pepper his comments on national affairs with comments that would make a Waa-terford docker blush.
His deft choice of words, nonetheless, comes from the heart, even if couched in a way that some people might consider to be a form of linguistic pollution.
Fine Gael approval?
For instance, the Irish Property Owners Association recently told this newspaper that it found his remark about Irish landlords (‘I’d jail the bastards’) to be ‘despicable, filthy and foul-mouthed.’
What’s more, the landlords recommended that the Minister of State ‘should seriously consider his Government position given his crucial role in Irish education.’
A strong reaction, indeed, considering that Mr Halligan is well thought of by Enda Kenny and the FG lads who, apparently, find nothing upsetting in his colourful outbursts.
Because, despite his choice of words, he has radical ideas that reverberate favourably among Blueshirts! Recently, in an interview with a pop magazine for juveniles, the Minister advocated legalising brothels and he suggested that public concerns relating to such places could be assuaged if cameras monitored criminal type activities that might be taking place.
He called for the decriminalisation of certain drugs, and he wants abortion to be made available. As well, he favours the introduction of euthanasia.
He told the Indo that he considered some people in the pro-life movement to be ‘a mob’ and that he was taking legal advice. He thinks Donald Trump is an ‘asshole.’
Ironically, words like ‘bastards’ and ‘asshole’ that once required a cleansing of the speaker’s gob with carbolic soap are now employed at government level as a badge of social acceptability. And that’s a change in attitudes!
Clearly Taoiseach Enda Kenny sees nothing wrong in Halligan’s remarkable vocabulary and seemingly views the use in public discourse of such descriptive words as one more means of candid self-expression
Does society consider the use of such language to be appropriate? After all, even in the blogosphere, commentators who use such language are denounced by other bloggers – generally on the basis that vulgarity is rarely daring.
Indeed, it’s not too long ago that our grannies linked profanities with moral degeneracy and bad manners – qualities that, of course, do not apply to Fine Gael’s favoured lad, Minister John Halligan, who in his linguistic openness and frankness is a politico above reproach.
Interestingly, inside Dáil Eireann a member of the Dáil is banned from alleging that a colleague is a ‘rogue,’ a ‘scoundrel,’ a ‘brat,’ a ‘buffoon,’ a ‘chancer,’ a ‘gurrier’ or a ‘scumbag.’
Pretty tame stuff compared to what now can be said in an official capacity outside Dáil Eireann!
Labour’s Taj Mahal
Here’s a tale that would soften the hardest of cynical hearts. The Labour Party is financially embarrassed. Before the general election, it was receiving €2.8 million in State funding, a treasure trove that was estimated on the number of TDs that it had.
But, following the loss of 26 seats (mostly to Sinn Féin) and reduced to just seven deputies, the party now gets less than a million in free money.
Result? It can’t pay the rent on its luxurious, pent-office headquarters on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay that it began renting a year ago at a cost of €212,625 per annum. Plus a one car parking space at a cost of €3,500!
The lease on the super HQ is understood to run until the end of 2017, but earlier this month the cash-strapped cloth cap brigade had to face reality. The party cleared out to a two-room basement on Hume Street.
And oh, the ignominy!