19 November 2006

Author has no plans to holiday in Ireland any time soon?

Last month saw the publication of Michael Burleigh’s book Sacred Causes. Dealing with role of religion in European politics since WWI it seemed to receive generally positive reviews, in the Observer and the Times.

One country where his book may go down poorly, however,is Ireland. If the Sunday (Irish) Independent is to be believed one chapter of Sacred Causes appears to be devoted to a lengthy swipe at Ireland and the Irish.

Acording to the Sunday Independent report Burleigh says: "England has undergone the reverse cultural colonisation of the erstwhile oppressed. As fluent talkers, the Irish have colonised entire areas of British television, with the benignly unctuous Terry Wogan succeeded by the vulgarly queer Graham Norton, whose sexually obsessive innuendo even managed to fall below the (very) low standards of British television comedy,".

Apparently he belittles the "minor poets" (does he mean Seamus Heaney and WB Yeats, two Irish poets who have won the Nobel Prize for Literature? who have won the Nobel Prize for literature and adds: "Various provincial cliques and coteries, whether eccentrically Anglo-Irish, or just plain Irish, are inflated out of all proportion to their actual significance by their admiring fellows in the metropolitan British media".

Apparently "Any cook or pop star can become a celebrity seer nowadays in a culture where other forms of authority have withered. Superannuated rock musicians have boarded this bandwagon, with saint-cum-sir Bob Geldof in the van of vulgarly formulated attempts to strong-arm governments seeking the youth vote into giving away more money that by and large finds its way into the Swiss bank accounts of African kleptocrats… it is startling to watch British politicians lapping up abuse from this mouthy sloven, until one notes that knowledge of pop music is nowadays a crucial part of obtaining high office. “

Irish businessmen are apparently described: "Some of Ireland's most prominent businessmen have a, doubtless ill-deserved, reputation for ruthlesness. Fans regard such figures as genially piratical; others think they are greedy and mean-spirited, a description that might also apply to large swathes of the Irish in the English building trades, although competently reliable young Poles are displacing this horde of bodgers and shysters."

While he acknowledges that Ireland has now become "much richer" than neighbouring Britain, Burliegh has put this down to "its affluent diaspora and the European Union" while Northern Ireland "is kept afloat by an inflated public sector providing outdoor relief to its middle class".

I must read this book.I am not sure what relevance they have to a book dealing with the role of religion in European politics but if he has indeed couched his criticisms of ireland in such terms then he is less an eminent historian than an arsehole. I look forward to standing corrected, however.


elasticwaistbandlady said...

I'm going to Ireland to search for me Lucky Charms. They're magically delicious, you know.

jams o donnell said...

If you do, don't whatever you do write a load of invective about Ireland beforehand or they might have their first execution since the mid 1950s!

Steve Bates said...

Last night Stella and I attended a birthday dinner at a chain restaurant called Bennigan's. On the menu was a fried-onion appetizer with a name that gave me an opportunity for one of the best come-on lines I've ever delivered: "Stella, will you join me in an Irish Haystack?" Stella's ancestry is German, but there's enough Irish in my blood that some of my ancestors may very well have occupied an Irish haystack on occasion.

What this fellow has done is, at a minimum, bad form, and at worst it's the same kind of crap the Irish have put up with for centuries, mostly from England. If, after you read the book, you discover the author is indeed an "arsehole," let's all start thinking of suitable things you could mail him. Whether you do it or not, the fantasy revenge should be amusing for all of us.

mullet said...

aach well...suppose there is more crap in store for ireland from the likes of this pillock

jams o donnell said...

I am going to give this book a read Steve. Irish history (which is my history) is replete with examples of oppression at the hands of England. While it should never be forgotten it must never define the nation and to be honest it doesn't define the Republic of Ireland.

On the other hand what Burleigh seems to have written sounds straight out of mouth of a twat at the Golf Club after a few G&Ts. Pretty ignorant for an "eminent" historian!

At least nowadays you dont get the likes of Bernard Manning on tv telling jokes like "there were these threee irishmen and they were so thick they couldn't read"... Given the surge of teh Celtic Tiger the old stereotype of Ireland as a poor and backward country have been swept aside