Plenty about Ireland has come our way lately – the O’Kiwi lads have been following the Irish rugby team again; a Dunedin writer on days spent in Dublin; an Irish comedy and the sad state of our free-to-air television; a Kiwi girl on current Irish literature; and a book that analyses corruption in Irish politics.
O’Kiwi lads back on tour
The O’Kiwi lads were back on the road for the All Blacks v Irish test in Auckland, on a tour that probably enjoyed more success than the Irish rugby team.
Later, in the aftermath of the 60-0 hiding dished out by the All Blacks in the third test, Irish fans were calling for the head of coach Declan Kidney. ‘A kidney transplant is required,’ said one fan. ‘A full organ transplant is required,’ responded another.
Many wondered how a team full of players from Leinster and Ulster, the two provinces that recently contested the European rugby championship in the Heineken Cup final, could fail so completely when playing for Ireland. A similar criticism has for years been levelled at the English soccer team – their outstanding club competition fails to translate into a winning national side.
Ironically, the modest and softly-spoken Kidney, a former mathematics teacher and career guidance counsellor, was celebrated for his shrewd psychology when he first took over the Irish team and melded the Munster hard men and the Leinster toffs into a team that won the Six Nations.
So, who would want to be coach of Ireland? And who organised the calendar that has seen that country’s top rugby players take the field in 51 of the past 52 weeks?
Deep questions like those were chewed over by the O’Kiwi lads on their jaunt, along with sausages and bacon from the Pokeno butchers, as these Facebook photos show…
On the edge in Dublin
Thanks to Dunedin writer Tony Eyre who sent O’Kiwi this piece about his time in Dublin. It was first published in the Otago Daily Times after his visit there in 2010:
‘My earliest awareness of Dublin was as a 7-year-old boy growing up in Auckland. Tommy Maher, an Irishman and father of one of my school friends, once put the palms of his hands on either side of my head and lifted me up to the window.
‘Can you see Dublin?’ he asked. Read more >>
Irish comedy won’t revive our free-to-air television
After looking forward to Friday night’s new Irish comedy on TV1, Mrs Brown’s Boys, I switched channels after 20 minutes. What rubbish. Father Ted, it ain’t.
Free-to-air television in New Zealand is a wasteland and will become even more so when TVNZ7 shuts down at the end of June.
Then, according to the Save TVNZ7 Campaign, for the first time in this country since television began, we will be without a public service television channel. ‘We will join Mexico as the only developed countries in the world with totally commercial television chasing ratings above all else.’
It’s certainly a sad day if anyone in TV1 believes that Mrs Brown’s Boys will boost its ratings.
Emma Gallagher swears by contemporary Irish literature
Emma Gallagher, who works for the NZ Book Council, wrote this piece for the recent Auckland Writers and Readers Festival which hosted such well-known Irish writers as Roddy Doyle:
‘For such a wee, damp island, Ireland has produced more than its fair share of literary greats: Swift, Wilde, Yeats, Shaw, Bowen, Joyce, O’Connor (a couple of them), Beckett, Heaney, O’Brien (a couple of them), Murdoch, Trevor, McGahern, Binchy, Doyle, Banville, Toibin, Barry, Enright, McCabe, and Keyes.
‘Even so, many critics want today’s Irish writers to say goodbye to the past – feck all the potatoes and the donkeys and the priests over the nearest dry stone wall – and deal to the new Ireland… Read more >>
Seeds of the Irish crisis were sown long ago
Irish politics has a level of corruption that would shock most innocent little Kiwis. For instance, a public inquiry revealed that the late Charles Haughey, Taioseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland at various times between 1979 and 1992, raked in an income 200 times his own salary.
More latterly, an unholy alliance between politicians, bankers and developers is credited for the country’s current economic woes. Recently in the Financial Times, a book called Political Corruption in Ireland, 1922-2010: A Crooked Harp? by Elaine A. Byrne, was reviewed by David Gardiner. He wrote:
‘Corruption in Ireland predates independence. Yet cronyism and clientelism have been tolerated, even admired, throughout much of the republic’s history. That may be coming to an end, as its citizens learn how the tawdry entwinements of Irish politics and business brought the ‘Celtic Tiger’ to its knees in 2010. Read more >>