apolla: (Default)
I was in Dublin the weekend before last, to see the Dubliners. Went on my own because I've exhausted the very short list of people willing to go there with me for any reason, especially to hear a bunch of old men singing songs with phrases like 'whack fol la di da' and such.

I got into the city centre just after midday, which was the perfect time to go for my favourite lunch at O'Neill's carvery, then feeling very full I walked down to Baggot Street where I was staying in a place so brilliant that I want to go back for longer - it was a hotel room like any other but had a little kitchen thing so I didn't have to depend on Dublin's hugely expensive restaurants.

Anyway, it was about half two by the time I settled down and, having awoken at half six to get the train to the airport, and seeing a Susan Hayward film on TV I thought "ah sure, I'll just have a nap for an hour." I was going to go to Kilmainham Gaol, you see.

I woke up at half five, one afternoon of two in Dublin totally thrown away and so subsequently felt miffed at meself for wasting so much time... I stumbled around and got ready and meandered back towards Starbucks on College Green for a shot of caffeine - FUCK ME ARE FRAPPUCINOS EXPENSIVE IN THE REPUBLIC!. Bought one anyway and meandered up Dame Street past Christ Church, onto Thomas Street and there to one of my favourite venues ever: Vicar Street. Queued for ticket and saw Jim McCann arrive. Went inside and headed straight to the bar like everyone else. Paid THREE EURO, THREE! for a tiny bottle of Coke and then had to stand like a total loser on my own while everyone else hung out with friends. After wasting my afternoon I was feeling a bit shite, like I just shouldn't have bothered. The usual "Oh WOE, I have no money! Why am I here! Cry MOAR!"

As soon as we could, I went into the actual venue and found my table, only two rows back. Very good view, etc. Started putting together the various bits and pieces of a song I've been writing for awhile. Jim McCann came on and introduced the Dubliners, and I was glad to see that they were using it to remember Luke (dead 25 years this year), Ciaran (dead 21 years this year) and Ronnie (who died last year as mentioned here), rather than just as any old show.

As soon as Jim was there, I knew that I was right to have gone to the trouble. As soon as the group themselves came on, I forgot that I'd ever wished I'd stayed at home. They brought on some guests throughout - a young singer who was trying too hard to sound like Luke, Ronnie's son Phelim (usually an actor) and Luke's brother as well as another man whose name I can't recall.

There was one moment that made my heart almost stop in my chest. They played some video of Luke singing but first they just darkened the stage and played the audio of his poem 'For What Died The Sons of Roisin'. Now this was written by Luke in response to Irish policy during the 60s onwards whereby tracts of land were sold off to foreign buyers and that sort of thing. Played to the silent crowd at Vicar Street, it felt to me like Luke was berating us, fist shaking, from Heaven itself. Now your man Luke was a communist so he didn't believe in Heaven I suspect, but I hope he's there and if he is, said poem would have extra verses now too. As it was presented there, it chilled me to the bone and is still rattling in my head.

I do wish that they'd played video of Luke singing Raglan Road rather than giving it to Patsy Watchorn. He's a perfectly fine singer and he fits well with the Dubliners (he joined quite recently) but he's just not Luke.

Luke's brother sang 'The Parting Glass'. I swear kids, when I die, you're to play Ronnie Drew's version of that song for me.

As for Ronnie, they played some video of him singing McAlpine's Fusiliers, which was nice... but I suppose his death is still kinda recent and it was very odd to see, really.

Good show though, and I am glad I went, even though it's put me in my overdraft until payday.

*

I went to Kilmainham Gaol on Sunday. Missed my stop on the bus but got off just in time to not be totally out of the way. It was all by guided tour and it was fascinating. The gaol was used in plenty of films I've seen (The Italian Job, Michael Collins, The Wind That Shakes The Barley) so it was familiar to a point. They've hosted concerts there (including the Dubliners) and I just thought 'hey, I'd love to sing here'. It didn't help the swelling anger in my heart that Luke had spurred on the night before, especially when it was pointed out that the Staters executed some republicans there, in the same way that the British killed the Easter Rising fellows... It's just a place that summarises very neatly the hypocrisy and violence of Ireland's past and brings its present into stark relief.

I actually wrote a poem/song of my own after that, sat in Gallagher's Boxty House eating my dinner. I might post it here, I might even send it to Irish papers or something. I dunno. I can feel Dublin changing, and not necessarily for the better. To a point, in some ways it feels like it could be - say it quietly - just any city in Britain. Honestly. The people are changing too. I can feel the changes since I first visited, and that was only 2004. There are songs about Dublin changing - The Mero, Dublin In The Rare Auld Times - and all cities change, but I think something not-good is happening there and it's a little hard to describe... but it's happening. Maybe the Celtic Tiger wrought as much destruction as anything else...

*

I was working at the Wakestock festival in Wales this weekend past. It sucked. I mean it was awful: small, uninteresting, full of dance music and had an audience made up almost entirely of 17 year olds from Manchester and Liverpool all doing their best to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. This was made very easy by the WKD and Jagermeister stalls. Then on Saturday there was torrential rain. Some scally bastards stole some of my tent pegs so my tent leaked, but I'd already covered everything in plastic so it was half-OK. But I was working the dance music stage that day and couldn't really leave because of work and the weather so I was stuck listening to drum n bass for fucking hours. HOURS.

Sunday was better. I was at the XFM stage which was live music. I have to say that everyone working there I encountered was really nice, including the DJs (who generally don't give a shit about what we do because it's not their music) and the security (a profession that seems to generally attract bastards but not this time).... but for the first time I really wished I was there as an artiste and not as what I was doing. Because then I would've been able to leave.

I was so bored that I kept going back to my tent just to sit. Still with my earplugs in. I read Private Eye at least four times cover to cover. Even the financial articles.

Got lost driving back too, but it was halfway up a mountain in Snowdonia so the views were great. Now wish I was back in Co. Kerry, of course.

*

Proof (as if I needed it) that I'm in love with Rory Gallagher's music came when I got home last night and was able to listen to him for the first time since whenever (barring the one CD that I took with my discman that wasn't scratched to fuck) and I started grinning and dancing around the room.

Tired today, obviously. I should go to bed but...........................................................................................

apolla: (Default)
I was in Dublin the weekend before last, to see the Dubliners. Went on my own because I've exhausted the very short list of people willing to go there with me for any reason, especially to hear a bunch of old men singing songs with phrases like 'whack fol la di da' and such.

I got into the city centre just after midday, which was the perfect time to go for my favourite lunch at O'Neill's carvery, then feeling very full I walked down to Baggot Street where I was staying in a place so brilliant that I want to go back for longer - it was a hotel room like any other but had a little kitchen thing so I didn't have to depend on Dublin's hugely expensive restaurants.

Anyway, it was about half two by the time I settled down and, having awoken at half six to get the train to the airport, and seeing a Susan Hayward film on TV I thought "ah sure, I'll just have a nap for an hour." I was going to go to Kilmainham Gaol, you see.

I woke up at half five, one afternoon of two in Dublin totally thrown away and so subsequently felt miffed at meself for wasting so much time... I stumbled around and got ready and meandered back towards Starbucks on College Green for a shot of caffeine - FUCK ME ARE FRAPPUCINOS EXPENSIVE IN THE REPUBLIC!. Bought one anyway and meandered up Dame Street past Christ Church, onto Thomas Street and there to one of my favourite venues ever: Vicar Street. Queued for ticket and saw Jim McCann arrive. Went inside and headed straight to the bar like everyone else. Paid THREE EURO, THREE! for a tiny bottle of Coke and then had to stand like a total loser on my own while everyone else hung out with friends. After wasting my afternoon I was feeling a bit shite, like I just shouldn't have bothered. The usual "Oh WOE, I have no money! Why am I here! Cry MOAR!"

As soon as we could, I went into the actual venue and found my table, only two rows back. Very good view, etc. Started putting together the various bits and pieces of a song I've been writing for awhile. Jim McCann came on and introduced the Dubliners, and I was glad to see that they were using it to remember Luke (dead 25 years this year), Ciaran (dead 21 years this year) and Ronnie (who died last year as mentioned here), rather than just as any old show.

As soon as Jim was there, I knew that I was right to have gone to the trouble. As soon as the group themselves came on, I forgot that I'd ever wished I'd stayed at home. They brought on some guests throughout - a young singer who was trying too hard to sound like Luke, Ronnie's son Phelim (usually an actor) and Luke's brother as well as another man whose name I can't recall.

There was one moment that made my heart almost stop in my chest. They played some video of Luke singing but first they just darkened the stage and played the audio of his poem 'For What Died The Sons of Roisin'. Now this was written by Luke in response to Irish policy during the 60s onwards whereby tracts of land were sold off to foreign buyers and that sort of thing. Played to the silent crowd at Vicar Street, it felt to me like Luke was berating us, fist shaking, from Heaven itself. Now your man Luke was a communist so he didn't believe in Heaven I suspect, but I hope he's there and if he is, said poem would have extra verses now too. As it was presented there, it chilled me to the bone and is still rattling in my head.

I do wish that they'd played video of Luke singing Raglan Road rather than giving it to Patsy Watchorn. He's a perfectly fine singer and he fits well with the Dubliners (he joined quite recently) but he's just not Luke.

Luke's brother sang 'The Parting Glass'. I swear kids, when I die, you're to play Ronnie Drew's version of that song for me.

As for Ronnie, they played some video of him singing McAlpine's Fusiliers, which was nice... but I suppose his death is still kinda recent and it was very odd to see, really.

Good show though, and I am glad I went, even though it's put me in my overdraft until payday.

*

I went to Kilmainham Gaol on Sunday. Missed my stop on the bus but got off just in time to not be totally out of the way. It was all by guided tour and it was fascinating. The gaol was used in plenty of films I've seen (The Italian Job, Michael Collins, The Wind That Shakes The Barley) so it was familiar to a point. They've hosted concerts there (including the Dubliners) and I just thought 'hey, I'd love to sing here'. It didn't help the swelling anger in my heart that Luke had spurred on the night before, especially when it was pointed out that the Staters executed some republicans there, in the same way that the British killed the Easter Rising fellows... It's just a place that summarises very neatly the hypocrisy and violence of Ireland's past and brings its present into stark relief.

I actually wrote a poem/song of my own after that, sat in Gallagher's Boxty House eating my dinner. I might post it here, I might even send it to Irish papers or something. I dunno. I can feel Dublin changing, and not necessarily for the better. To a point, in some ways it feels like it could be - say it quietly - just any city in Britain. Honestly. The people are changing too. I can feel the changes since I first visited, and that was only 2004. There are songs about Dublin changing - The Mero, Dublin In The Rare Auld Times - and all cities change, but I think something not-good is happening there and it's a little hard to describe... but it's happening. Maybe the Celtic Tiger wrought as much destruction as anything else...

*

I was working at the Wakestock festival in Wales this weekend past. It sucked. I mean it was awful: small, uninteresting, full of dance music and had an audience made up almost entirely of 17 year olds from Manchester and Liverpool all doing their best to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. This was made very easy by the WKD and Jagermeister stalls. Then on Saturday there was torrential rain. Some scally bastards stole some of my tent pegs so my tent leaked, but I'd already covered everything in plastic so it was half-OK. But I was working the dance music stage that day and couldn't really leave because of work and the weather so I was stuck listening to drum n bass for fucking hours. HOURS.

Sunday was better. I was at the XFM stage which was live music. I have to say that everyone working there I encountered was really nice, including the DJs (who generally don't give a shit about what we do because it's not their music) and the security (a profession that seems to generally attract bastards but not this time).... but for the first time I really wished I was there as an artiste and not as what I was doing. Because then I would've been able to leave.

I was so bored that I kept going back to my tent just to sit. Still with my earplugs in. I read Private Eye at least four times cover to cover. Even the financial articles.

Got lost driving back too, but it was halfway up a mountain in Snowdonia so the views were great. Now wish I was back in Co. Kerry, of course.

*

Proof (as if I needed it) that I'm in love with Rory Gallagher's music came when I got home last night and was able to listen to him for the first time since whenever (barring the one CD that I took with my discman that wasn't scratched to fuck) and I started grinning and dancing around the room.

Tired today, obviously. I should go to bed but...........................................................................................

apolla: (Default)
I also found this that I never posted, written when I was on my solo Cork to Dublin Extravaganza back in August:

Sitting in Cork City Grieving a Close Stranger

I suppose I should be glad, in a bitter sort of way, that Ronnie Drew died the afternoon before I came to the far-famed land of my people.

The death of an old man is not a tragedy, but when that old man is one of the towering figures of Irish music... you might be able to see where I’m going. I won’t lie to you: when I clicked on BBC News Online yesterday at about six o’clock, I was already in a bit of a sad mood... and when I saw that Ronnie had bought it, I sat in front of the computer and cried. I wasn’t surprised, because your man had been ill two years – I got over the shock of it when I saw him on Irish TV with all his hair and famous beard gone from the chemo back in January.

Like all my favourite voices (and Ronnie is firmly in that group), I don’t remember hearing Ronnie the first time. I remember once being very young and stupid and hating Irish music. When I was a child, I associated Irish people, Irish music and Irish things with the Roman Catholic Church... and I detested the Church. The Irish in England are a very particular species of people and I didn’t realise that those people in the Church’s Family Centre weren’t representative of the entire gang. Fortunately, the love and pride and affection for Ireland were hard-coded and the yearning pulled me closer. Further away from the Church, but closer to Ireland.

Some years ago, I downloaded ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ by the Dubliners, probably because of Thin Lizzy. I didn’t like that particular version nearly as much as Lizzy’s... but I can tell you that something sparked in my brain.

An article about the Pogues in MOJO magazine helped, although I think it was before that when I downloaded some of their songs too... including at least two versions of ‘The Irish Rover’. I do remember loving the Pogues-Dubliners cover and I also remember not much liking another version by the Dubs. I remember wondering who the hell this guy was who was putting the emphasis on the wrong place on the refrain. He was singing Irrrr-ish Rover instead of Irish Rooo-ver. It wasn’t wrong, it was just different. That was Ronnie, you know. I’ve since rediscovered the version I think that was and I like it perfectly well.

Whatever it was, and whyever I searched for them, I ended up buying Spirit of the Irish at the now-gone music store in town – the same place I bought two little records called Led Zeppelin IV and Jailbreak.

Anyway, when I finally went to see my Jim in August 2004, I wasn’t listening to the Doors or to Lizzy or to Zeppelin or the Beatles. All the way from London to Paris and back, I listened to the Dubliners. It was Ronnie’s voice that pulled me in and his voice I fell in love with. The late, near-sainted Luke Kelly had a clear, wonderful voice which I really adore, but it was Ronnie’s deep, gravelly, coal-being-ground-underfoot voice that I really fell in love with. It was voice that sounded like it had been dug out of the earth of mother Ireland herself.

For all that, I never tried to find out who he really was. In some ways it seemed unimportant – you’d only to listen and know.

He didn’t give a fuck. He was absolutely himself whether it pissed people off or not. He was the towering measure of man that rebellious rock types hire PR companies to help with. The Dubliners weren’t solely responsible for the resurgence of Irish folk music, but they were the figureheads. Until yesterday afternoon, I had maintained the hope that Ronnie would return to the Dubs so I could see live the power he had. As it is, I’ll have to resign myself to two excellent shows by the (one of which I travelled to Dublin specifically for) without him

As is so often the case when a celebrity (for want of a better word), my grief is selfish. I shan’t get to see him, I won’t, I can’t... but I know that my slight sorrow is a pale reflection of a shadow of how his family and friends must feel.

Last year, in what might be called an ‘emotional state’, I compared how I felt about Jim to the agony of losing my granddad. If Ronnie’s family feel for him even a fraction of what I did for Granddad, they have my complete and most sincere condolences.

There was just a Ronnie Drew documentary on TV here and I’d never have seen it if I was in England. He was blunt, foul-mouthed, honest and fierce as fuck. It didn’t tell me much about the Dubs that I didn’t already know, but it was interesting to learn more about him. Sans beard, he almost reminded me a little of Granddad – but most people over 70 seem to do that these days.

Much as Cork seems like a nice little city, I really just want to get up to Dublin. I’ll be there on Tuesday, and when I get there I’ll find myself a pub, maybe O’Donoghue’s but maybe not. I shall buy a glass of something and raise it to Ronnie Drew.

I was listening to the Dubs on Saturday morning, just as I had been the day before. Ronnie’s performance of Sean O’Casey’s ‘Red Roses for Me’ makes me want to cry. His go at ‘The Parting Glass’ has done in the past.

There are songs best done by the Dubliners that I’ve myself performed or working on getting performance ready. They’re often songs that Luke sang because I have no chance of singing like Ronnie.

That said, I sang ‘Love Is Pleasing’ and it became a different song. In his hands it was cynical, tired and resigned. In mine it was probably plaintive. Whatever he sang it sounded honest, whether it was or not. I don’t know how. He sang as if he was just talking to you – that’s how much effort seemed to be put in – and yet it was always undeniably brilliant and familiar. His voice felt like it was an old friend, even if you’d never heard the song before.

The thing for me is the voice. A group can have a master guitarist, or a songwriter par excellence, or whatever their gimmick is... but if there’s not a great voice for me to latch onto, there’s little hope. I didn’t latch onto Ronnie’s voice, I clung to it for dear life.

I hope... I hope you understand what this is for me. It’s not just some old guy or some celebrity. This is one of an incredibly select group that I do not want to (probably cannot) exist without. Jim Morrison. Philip Lynott. Dean Martin. George Harrison. John Lennon. Dylan. Robert Plant. Ronnie Drew. That’s it. That’s all there is, of all the voices in the world. I could live without Luke Kelly, Steve Marriott, Lanza and Connick. I wouldn’t wither if I never heard Elvis again.

I’m really lucky – the death of Ronnie is not the death of his voice. That will go on, as far as I’m concerned, forever. But understand that the world just got a bit grimmer, less interesting and less honest.

I came to Ireland to celebrate the birthday of one dead Irish singer – I will have to add ‘mourn another’ to the list of things to do. Still, there really is nowhere I’d rather be for Ronnie. He really is one of Those Voices. He was before he died, will continue to be so after it.

Ronnie, may you be reunited with those you loved and lost, may you be given a good spot in the celestial house band. With all my gratitude and affection, Clare.

Cork City, Sunday 17th August 2008.

*

On the way to Cobh – Monday 18th August 2008

I always feel most English when I’m in Ireland. Mind you, I feel more Irish everywhere else...

For all my tricolour-waving, rebel-song-singing and entrenched disdain for The Empire, I’ll never really belong here. Not because I’m not Irish enough but because I’m too English. I was born in England to an Irish woman – I can only assume she returned to Ireland but have no absolute idea – and I was raised in England by people who were second and third generation – I don’t know for sure. My granny grew up in Derry before and after Partition but left in 1934 and never lived there again.

Maybe I’m part of the diaspora, I don’t know. I have no family left – anyone my mammy knew is dead or contact was lost forty years ago.

My personality has many what you might call ‘Irish’ traits. The fucking melancholy, for one. The gob on me. Some of my Irish traits have been ‘developed’ by me, some are just there. But I’m too English – I’m too uptight, too concerned with time, too closed off. That I may have taken these traits from my Granny is an irony not lost on me.

Question, then: that thing we call the Irish Personality – isn’t it just a stereotype? There are all sorts here – uptight bastards, blarney-peddling charmers, boozers, prohibitionists, nationalists, anglophiles, geniuses, bitches, bores, whores, users, losers, grafters, swindlers.

I love this country. I could’ve left it behind completely, been absolutely English. It was a choice I made to be Irish. I’ve had what basically amounts to racism flung at me (most notably by a teacher at school), but I chose to be this person. I’ll never truly, absolutely belong here, but I’ll never be truly at home in England either.

Maybe I should use my handy third option and bugger off to Croatia.

I don’t belong anywhere and never have... the closest thing is that tiny pocket of London where the Worleys have been for at least a century... but I don’t belong. It used to really bother me, but maybe... just possibly it means that I can see all sides as they really are. I’ve kept myself an outsider in so many years, and in this way it was foist upon me.

Maybe it’s liberating: if I don’t belong anywhere, I can take myself everywhere. For now, I’ll explore the motherland. One day I want to cycle the entire coast of Mother Ireland – this will take some time.

I am a Worley of St Luke’s, an O’Driscoll of Cork. I’m a Hassan of Derry, a Cobaich of Pula. I’m even a Hayward of Shoreditch, and even a Walsh of Galway.

Belonging is overrated and I’ll tell myself that until the aching goes away.

*

On arriving in the Black Pool, Tuesday 19th August 2008

It has to be said that I’ve felt the presence of some black clouds since Saturday. I can’t say it’s all because of the lately late Ronnie Drew, but that even certainly made me impatient to get back to Dublin. I must even admit that it hampered my ability to enjoy Cork – though the great exhaustion I felt surely played its part.

This is not to say I had a bad time – I had a good time, but I also felt the constant knowledge that it could’ve (should’ve) been better. I will certainly return there – possibly with friends.

Now, I’ve been in Dublin for just over an hour. I got on the bus from Heuston Station, checked into my room, almost bought an Elmo cuddly toy (baulked at the price), and did buy my dad some tea, my mammy come coffee and I now sit in possibly my favourite restaurant in the entire world, Gallagher’s Boxty House.

And for the first time since Saturday, I feel something akin to joy. Sure, wasn’t I smiling as I crossed Dame Street into Temple Bar? Didn’t I grin up at Philip and Luke as I passed the Music Wall of Fame?

I love all of Ireland, the bits I’ve seen and the bits I haven’t. There are few places though, that give me such a smile as Dublin can. It’s changed, even in the few years since I’ve been coming here, but I think a sizeable slice of my heart will always belong to her.

It’s Philip’s city after all. When I’m done with boxty I’ll head north over the Liffey to the Collins Barracks. Later, I’ll get a new O’Driscoll keyring and go see Philo’s statue. Tomorrow is his birthday and I’ll go and see himself out in Sutton. By the end of tomorrow, though, I’ll be back in London. I very much suspect that I’ll have lost this joy I feel right now.

“I’ve been spending my time in the Old Town... It’s not the same honey, now you’re not around...”

*



apolla: (Default)
I also found this that I never posted, written when I was on my solo Cork to Dublin Extravaganza back in August:

Sitting in Cork City Grieving a Close Stranger

I suppose I should be glad, in a bitter sort of way, that Ronnie Drew died the afternoon before I came to the far-famed land of my people.

The death of an old man is not a tragedy, but when that old man is one of the towering figures of Irish music... you might be able to see where I’m going. I won’t lie to you: when I clicked on BBC News Online yesterday at about six o’clock, I was already in a bit of a sad mood... and when I saw that Ronnie had bought it, I sat in front of the computer and cried. I wasn’t surprised, because your man had been ill two years – I got over the shock of it when I saw him on Irish TV with all his hair and famous beard gone from the chemo back in January.

Like all my favourite voices (and Ronnie is firmly in that group), I don’t remember hearing Ronnie the first time. I remember once being very young and stupid and hating Irish music. When I was a child, I associated Irish people, Irish music and Irish things with the Roman Catholic Church... and I detested the Church. The Irish in England are a very particular species of people and I didn’t realise that those people in the Church’s Family Centre weren’t representative of the entire gang. Fortunately, the love and pride and affection for Ireland were hard-coded and the yearning pulled me closer. Further away from the Church, but closer to Ireland.

Some years ago, I downloaded ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ by the Dubliners, probably because of Thin Lizzy. I didn’t like that particular version nearly as much as Lizzy’s... but I can tell you that something sparked in my brain.

An article about the Pogues in MOJO magazine helped, although I think it was before that when I downloaded some of their songs too... including at least two versions of ‘The Irish Rover’. I do remember loving the Pogues-Dubliners cover and I also remember not much liking another version by the Dubs. I remember wondering who the hell this guy was who was putting the emphasis on the wrong place on the refrain. He was singing Irrrr-ish Rover instead of Irish Rooo-ver. It wasn’t wrong, it was just different. That was Ronnie, you know. I’ve since rediscovered the version I think that was and I like it perfectly well.

Whatever it was, and whyever I searched for them, I ended up buying Spirit of the Irish at the now-gone music store in town – the same place I bought two little records called Led Zeppelin IV and Jailbreak.

Anyway, when I finally went to see my Jim in August 2004, I wasn’t listening to the Doors or to Lizzy or to Zeppelin or the Beatles. All the way from London to Paris and back, I listened to the Dubliners. It was Ronnie’s voice that pulled me in and his voice I fell in love with. The late, near-sainted Luke Kelly had a clear, wonderful voice which I really adore, but it was Ronnie’s deep, gravelly, coal-being-ground-underfoot voice that I really fell in love with. It was voice that sounded like it had been dug out of the earth of mother Ireland herself.

For all that, I never tried to find out who he really was. In some ways it seemed unimportant – you’d only to listen and know.

He didn’t give a fuck. He was absolutely himself whether it pissed people off or not. He was the towering measure of man that rebellious rock types hire PR companies to help with. The Dubliners weren’t solely responsible for the resurgence of Irish folk music, but they were the figureheads. Until yesterday afternoon, I had maintained the hope that Ronnie would return to the Dubs so I could see live the power he had. As it is, I’ll have to resign myself to two excellent shows by the (one of which I travelled to Dublin specifically for) without him

As is so often the case when a celebrity (for want of a better word), my grief is selfish. I shan’t get to see him, I won’t, I can’t... but I know that my slight sorrow is a pale reflection of a shadow of how his family and friends must feel.

Last year, in what might be called an ‘emotional state’, I compared how I felt about Jim to the agony of losing my granddad. If Ronnie’s family feel for him even a fraction of what I did for Granddad, they have my complete and most sincere condolences.

There was just a Ronnie Drew documentary on TV here and I’d never have seen it if I was in England. He was blunt, foul-mouthed, honest and fierce as fuck. It didn’t tell me much about the Dubs that I didn’t already know, but it was interesting to learn more about him. Sans beard, he almost reminded me a little of Granddad – but most people over 70 seem to do that these days.

Much as Cork seems like a nice little city, I really just want to get up to Dublin. I’ll be there on Tuesday, and when I get there I’ll find myself a pub, maybe O’Donoghue’s but maybe not. I shall buy a glass of something and raise it to Ronnie Drew.

I was listening to the Dubs on Saturday morning, just as I had been the day before. Ronnie’s performance of Sean O’Casey’s ‘Red Roses for Me’ makes me want to cry. His go at ‘The Parting Glass’ has done in the past.

There are songs best done by the Dubliners that I’ve myself performed or working on getting performance ready. They’re often songs that Luke sang because I have no chance of singing like Ronnie.

That said, I sang ‘Love Is Pleasing’ and it became a different song. In his hands it was cynical, tired and resigned. In mine it was probably plaintive. Whatever he sang it sounded honest, whether it was or not. I don’t know how. He sang as if he was just talking to you – that’s how much effort seemed to be put in – and yet it was always undeniably brilliant and familiar. His voice felt like it was an old friend, even if you’d never heard the song before.

The thing for me is the voice. A group can have a master guitarist, or a songwriter par excellence, or whatever their gimmick is... but if there’s not a great voice for me to latch onto, there’s little hope. I didn’t latch onto Ronnie’s voice, I clung to it for dear life.

I hope... I hope you understand what this is for me. It’s not just some old guy or some celebrity. This is one of an incredibly select group that I do not want to (probably cannot) exist without. Jim Morrison. Philip Lynott. Dean Martin. George Harrison. John Lennon. Dylan. Robert Plant. Ronnie Drew. That’s it. That’s all there is, of all the voices in the world. I could live without Luke Kelly, Steve Marriott, Lanza and Connick. I wouldn’t wither if I never heard Elvis again.

I’m really lucky – the death of Ronnie is not the death of his voice. That will go on, as far as I’m concerned, forever. But understand that the world just got a bit grimmer, less interesting and less honest.

I came to Ireland to celebrate the birthday of one dead Irish singer – I will have to add ‘mourn another’ to the list of things to do. Still, there really is nowhere I’d rather be for Ronnie. He really is one of Those Voices. He was before he died, will continue to be so after it.

Ronnie, may you be reunited with those you loved and lost, may you be given a good spot in the celestial house band. With all my gratitude and affection, Clare.

Cork City, Sunday 17th August 2008.

*

On the way to Cobh – Monday 18th August 2008

I always feel most English when I’m in Ireland. Mind you, I feel more Irish everywhere else...

For all my tricolour-waving, rebel-song-singing and entrenched disdain for The Empire, I’ll never really belong here. Not because I’m not Irish enough but because I’m too English. I was born in England to an Irish woman – I can only assume she returned to Ireland but have no absolute idea – and I was raised in England by people who were second and third generation – I don’t know for sure. My granny grew up in Derry before and after Partition but left in 1934 and never lived there again.

Maybe I’m part of the diaspora, I don’t know. I have no family left – anyone my mammy knew is dead or contact was lost forty years ago.

My personality has many what you might call ‘Irish’ traits. The fucking melancholy, for one. The gob on me. Some of my Irish traits have been ‘developed’ by me, some are just there. But I’m too English – I’m too uptight, too concerned with time, too closed off. That I may have taken these traits from my Granny is an irony not lost on me.

Question, then: that thing we call the Irish Personality – isn’t it just a stereotype? There are all sorts here – uptight bastards, blarney-peddling charmers, boozers, prohibitionists, nationalists, anglophiles, geniuses, bitches, bores, whores, users, losers, grafters, swindlers.

I love this country. I could’ve left it behind completely, been absolutely English. It was a choice I made to be Irish. I’ve had what basically amounts to racism flung at me (most notably by a teacher at school), but I chose to be this person. I’ll never truly, absolutely belong here, but I’ll never be truly at home in England either.

Maybe I should use my handy third option and bugger off to Croatia.

I don’t belong anywhere and never have... the closest thing is that tiny pocket of London where the Worleys have been for at least a century... but I don’t belong. It used to really bother me, but maybe... just possibly it means that I can see all sides as they really are. I’ve kept myself an outsider in so many years, and in this way it was foist upon me.

Maybe it’s liberating: if I don’t belong anywhere, I can take myself everywhere. For now, I’ll explore the motherland. One day I want to cycle the entire coast of Mother Ireland – this will take some time.

I am a Worley of St Luke’s, an O’Driscoll of Cork. I’m a Hassan of Derry, a Cobaich of Pula. I’m even a Hayward of Shoreditch, and even a Walsh of Galway.

Belonging is overrated and I’ll tell myself that until the aching goes away.

*

On arriving in the Black Pool, Tuesday 19th August 2008

It has to be said that I’ve felt the presence of some black clouds since Saturday. I can’t say it’s all because of the lately late Ronnie Drew, but that even certainly made me impatient to get back to Dublin. I must even admit that it hampered my ability to enjoy Cork – though the great exhaustion I felt surely played its part.

This is not to say I had a bad time – I had a good time, but I also felt the constant knowledge that it could’ve (should’ve) been better. I will certainly return there – possibly with friends.

Now, I’ve been in Dublin for just over an hour. I got on the bus from Heuston Station, checked into my room, almost bought an Elmo cuddly toy (baulked at the price), and did buy my dad some tea, my mammy come coffee and I now sit in possibly my favourite restaurant in the entire world, Gallagher’s Boxty House.

And for the first time since Saturday, I feel something akin to joy. Sure, wasn’t I smiling as I crossed Dame Street into Temple Bar? Didn’t I grin up at Philip and Luke as I passed the Music Wall of Fame?

I love all of Ireland, the bits I’ve seen and the bits I haven’t. There are few places though, that give me such a smile as Dublin can. It’s changed, even in the few years since I’ve been coming here, but I think a sizeable slice of my heart will always belong to her.

It’s Philip’s city after all. When I’m done with boxty I’ll head north over the Liffey to the Collins Barracks. Later, I’ll get a new O’Driscoll keyring and go see Philo’s statue. Tomorrow is his birthday and I’ll go and see himself out in Sutton. By the end of tomorrow, though, I’ll be back in London. I very much suspect that I’ll have lost this joy I feel right now.

“I’ve been spending my time in the Old Town... It’s not the same honey, now you’re not around...”

*



apolla: (OTP)
This time last Sunday, I was curled up in a bed in Cork City watching RTE One. Now, I'm in my own living room watching a really, really old Miss Marple. It's from 1985, according to The Great Wiki.

I miss Ireland so much that I actually started missing it about six hours before I left. Anyway, I had a perfectly nice time although I didn't do as much as I wanted to. Holidays on your own are a bit weird, also, but I liked being able to do exactly what I wanted to.

*

Went to some movies while I was in Dublin. I started off thinking I'd just go see The Mummy 3 but it was so awful that I ended up marching straight back into the box office and getting myself a ticket for Mamma Mia also. Then the next day I was so knackered that I killed some time by catching The Dark Knight a second time.

The Mummy 3 is so absolutely fucking awful that for the first time ever I considered leaving the cinema. I didn't, if only cos I'd spent 9 euro on the ticket. It is so beyond bad... Remember what we all loved about the first two movies? It was ALL thrown out of this movie to be replaced with absolute tosh. Alex is so absolutely different (in all sorts of bad ways) that he might as well be someone else. Maria Bello is all right but not exactly awe-inspiring... and somehow insipid next to the old Evy O'Connell.

When we were first introduced to Evy Carnahan, she was a dowdy, clumsy librarian to be sure... but she had her dreams and her aspirations. She knew she was going to have great adventures, and went after them. I loved her in The Mummy Returns because she'd blossomed into this wonderful, feisty, successful lady. It was a mark of how interesting and rounded she was that when it turns out she was the reincarnation/descendant of an ancient Egyptian princess, it made a certain amount of sense. It was OK, you know? Not Mary-Sueish.

Maria Bello's Evy was... suburban. I found it hard to believe that this Evy had been a spy or whatever during the war. She exhibited none of the spark of the 'real' Evy... and none of the depth of knowledge, the sense, that the old one had. I don't think it's entirely Maria Bello's fault - the story and the script were the kind of cack you'd expect from anything else, not the Mummy movies.

Rick was OK. He was the same old, same old. He was fine, although doesn't seem to have aged at all since, you know, the thirties!

Alex. This is what made me really, really pissed off. I don't care that they skipped ahead so that he was basically an adult now. I don't care, really I don't., What I really hated though, was that they took the once precocious, intelligent, thoughtful little boy with an English accent... and turned him into a gun-loving, brutish dolt with no sensitivity and an American accent. Where'd he pick that up, exactly?

I could almost believe that Rick and Alex had some sort of falling out, or drifiting apart since the second movie - but Rick had no problem showing the old Alex affection. Clearly Rick knew that the New Alex was an idiot and wanted the old one back.

Add in a few tired cliches: the handy pilot that Rick already knew, the mummy's henchman - and some new nonsense: the chemistry-less romantic subplot, a vaguely interesting subplot between the general and the witchy woman - and it's basically shit.

There were a few things I liked, but they weren't used - they were at SHANGRI-LA and they just switched to the Great Wall instead! The General guy was there, brought back, and yet nothing was done with it except to explain why those mummies don't kill Rick and 'Evy'.

It was one of those movies that basically shouldn't have ever been made... but to make it so badly is unforgivable.

[personal profile] logansrogue: DON'T WATCH IT!!

*

Mamma Mia was OK. It took me a long time (at least half the movie) to get into it. The singing was adequate but not excellent, the dancing was lacklustre and the scenery was the best thing of the whole movie. I didn't dislike it, certainly.

I have issues with Abba anyway. When I was about ten, I really got into them - I wanted that red spiky hair that Frida had in the latter days. I even saw Abba: The Movie more than once. Problem was, at the first music lesson we had at secondary school we were asked what music we liked. I said, without shame: Abba. This was 1993 and they were not held in the esteem they now possess. This was 1993, before they became cool again, before Mamma Mia and dozens of shit weekend TV programmes featuring 'celebrities' talking about and performing Abba songs. This is before they were on the cover of MOJO magazine and before they were being called 'perfect pop'.

Still, this was before X-Factor and Popstars, so there wasn't anything truly, truly heinous to compare them to.

This would be fine... except that this one answer to one question shaped, more than almost anything, the way my scholastic career was to pan out. 'Abbafan' became a great insult and it was flung at me time and time again. Sure, my wearing of shocking pink baseball boots a few weeks later was to make things worse... but that one answer to one question set the scene. I'm sure I would've had a miserable seven years even if I'd answered 'rave music' like so many of the others. At the time I remember thinking: "You're eleven fucking years old, you don't go to fucking raves, you lying fuck."

Incidentally, those shocking pink Chuck Taylors now retail for £45 in the shops. I have a new pair, too. Those sneakers are fashionable (to a point) and Abba are 'cool'. I was fifteen years ahead of the curve (or indeed, thirty behind it)... and unfortunately, Abba have borne the brunt of this. I can't listen to them anymore without feeling the pain. I have a couple of their songs on my iPod actually - the depressing stuff - The Winner Takes It All and The Day Before You Came. But I don't know where my copy of Abba Gold is, even though it was one of my first ever CDs (as opposed to vinyl or cassette). I was a little surprised by the fact I still knew all the words to all the songs in the movie... but Abba will inextricably be linked to a time in my life I'm still trying to recover from.

No, I can't really blame Abba, of course I can't. Perhaps I should blame the cruelty of sheeple children. Perhaps I should blame myself. I don't know... but I can't help wonderign what would've happened if I'd answered that one question differently.........

*

Ronnie Drew
died the afternoon before I went to Ireland. He was 73, had been ill for two years and so it can hardly be considered a 'tragedy'... but I'll admit to you I saw the news on BBC News Online and sat and cried. When I tried to tell my mum what had happened, I started crying again... and she proceeded to explain to Mikey's girlfriend in a manner I considered 'belittling'. She simply doesn't understand why I feel so attached to musicians or whatever - she called them 'celebrities' and didn't even lower her fucking voice so I couldn't hear.

I wrote a post about this while I was in Ireland which maybe I'll post... but the simple fact is that Ronnie was one of Those Voices as far as I'm concerned. I didn't talk about him as much as I did people like Jim or Philip, or even your man Flynn... but his is one of the voices I love so much I can't imagine living without it. I like Luke Kelly's voice, I think it's one of the best ever, but I love Ronnie's.

The only real 'positive' I can see to this is that the timing meant that I was in the right country at the right time - Ronnie's death was covered briefly in Britain but the Irish loved the man and it was everywhere. I must've spent ten euros on newspapers over the course of my time there to get the coverage. In fact, this time last Sunday I was watching a Ronnie documentary on RTE One which I'd never have seen on British TV.

Anyway: Jim. Philip. Dino. John. George. Plant. Dylan. Ronnie. Those are the voices I don't ever want to live without, and I don't say this because Ronnie's dead. I was saying it last week. In fact, last Saturday morning I walked to my mammy & daddy's house from the town centre singing along with him. Four hours later, he was dead.

I hope he's been reunited with those he loved and who loved him that went before. He deserves naught less.

*

It was Philip Lynott's birthday on 20th August, and it was one of the reasons I chose to go to Ireland when I did. I was vaguely thinking of not going up to see him... but I woke up early, checked out and got onto the DART. I know it was only half past ten when I arrived at the cemetery (St Fintan's, Sutton) but there was nobody there! Someone had left flowers fairly recently and there was all sorts of stuff left for him as usual - you can see which is his grave from far away in the cemetery because of all the stuff around it...

But there was nobody else there! It was nice that I was there on my own, just me and my hero... but I don't want him to be forgotten. Anyway, I left him a note, as I did last time, and as I had a bunch of bracelets on, I slid the little white one off my wrist and added it to the collection of bracelets left by fans. I can live without it, after all. I hope people did go up there later in the day, because he shouldn't be forgotten. I noticed later that day that the pub near his statue was full of people outside smoking, but they were paying no attention to the statue. Fair enough, but don't forget him!

[profile] marquiserachel is right - statue does have two left feet, but it's not totally noticeable. I pointed it out on Tuesday night to some guys stood by it and we ended up conversing about Rory Gallagher, who was from Cork.

I bought myself The Essential Rory Gallagher while I was in Cork, but... I don't think I can afford to get sucked in by another Dead Irish Musician.

Speaking of Rachel: I must take you to Cork, but also to Dublin again - you'd really get a kick out of the National Museum 'annexe' at the Collins Barracks.

*

Speaking of the National Museum, I arrived there on Tuesday, fresh off the train from Cork. There I was in my big, burnt orange (Mammy swears it's 'brick' coloured) rain jacket... my Louise Brooks hair was ruined by not having straighteners with me... I felt exhausted...

And there were the 31 contestants for the Rose of Tralee for a photocall.

Now, I know that I'm no beauty, really I do. But I have never felt quite so ugly as when they trooped past me into the museum. I actually waited to see what direction they went in so I could go in the opposite.

I have never EVER wanted to be part of some idiotic beauty contest before... but I felt so... not jealous but wistful perhaps. Why? Not because they're beautiful but because it's about being Irish...

The BNP apparently tried to intercede because this year's London Rose has a Jamaican father. Quite aside from the fuckwittery of telling a black girl she can't take part in an Irish thing because she's black... they're the BRITISH National Party! What fucking business is it of theirs to dictate ANYTHING to the Irish? That's what started all the trouble before!

*

I always feel most English when I'm in Ireland. All the rest of the time I feel whatever it is I am (Irish-Anglo, I suppose)... but in Ireland I can feel all the most English traits of mine - being a bit uptight about the time, especially for trains and buses etc, whatever. But then again, i think I developed some of those from my granny, who grew up in Co. Derry, so maybe it's nothing to do with 'Englishness' or 'Irishness' at all.

I just... a bit like the Abba question, I wonder what manner of person I would be if I'd been brought up in Galway after all?

*

My friend Louise is back in England for the first time since moving to Australia. I'm off to see her on Thursday and can't wait...

Other than that, nothing interesting. How about you lot?
apolla: (OTP)
This time last Sunday, I was curled up in a bed in Cork City watching RTE One. Now, I'm in my own living room watching a really, really old Miss Marple. It's from 1985, according to The Great Wiki.

I miss Ireland so much that I actually started missing it about six hours before I left. Anyway, I had a perfectly nice time although I didn't do as much as I wanted to. Holidays on your own are a bit weird, also, but I liked being able to do exactly what I wanted to.

*

Went to some movies while I was in Dublin. I started off thinking I'd just go see The Mummy 3 but it was so awful that I ended up marching straight back into the box office and getting myself a ticket for Mamma Mia also. Then the next day I was so knackered that I killed some time by catching The Dark Knight a second time.

The Mummy 3 is so absolutely fucking awful that for the first time ever I considered leaving the cinema. I didn't, if only cos I'd spent 9 euro on the ticket. It is so beyond bad... Remember what we all loved about the first two movies? It was ALL thrown out of this movie to be replaced with absolute tosh. Alex is so absolutely different (in all sorts of bad ways) that he might as well be someone else. Maria Bello is all right but not exactly awe-inspiring... and somehow insipid next to the old Evy O'Connell.

When we were first introduced to Evy Carnahan, she was a dowdy, clumsy librarian to be sure... but she had her dreams and her aspirations. She knew she was going to have great adventures, and went after them. I loved her in The Mummy Returns because she'd blossomed into this wonderful, feisty, successful lady. It was a mark of how interesting and rounded she was that when it turns out she was the reincarnation/descendant of an ancient Egyptian princess, it made a certain amount of sense. It was OK, you know? Not Mary-Sueish.

Maria Bello's Evy was... suburban. I found it hard to believe that this Evy had been a spy or whatever during the war. She exhibited none of the spark of the 'real' Evy... and none of the depth of knowledge, the sense, that the old one had. I don't think it's entirely Maria Bello's fault - the story and the script were the kind of cack you'd expect from anything else, not the Mummy movies.

Rick was OK. He was the same old, same old. He was fine, although doesn't seem to have aged at all since, you know, the thirties!

Alex. This is what made me really, really pissed off. I don't care that they skipped ahead so that he was basically an adult now. I don't care, really I don't., What I really hated though, was that they took the once precocious, intelligent, thoughtful little boy with an English accent... and turned him into a gun-loving, brutish dolt with no sensitivity and an American accent. Where'd he pick that up, exactly?

I could almost believe that Rick and Alex had some sort of falling out, or drifiting apart since the second movie - but Rick had no problem showing the old Alex affection. Clearly Rick knew that the New Alex was an idiot and wanted the old one back.

Add in a few tired cliches: the handy pilot that Rick already knew, the mummy's henchman - and some new nonsense: the chemistry-less romantic subplot, a vaguely interesting subplot between the general and the witchy woman - and it's basically shit.

There were a few things I liked, but they weren't used - they were at SHANGRI-LA and they just switched to the Great Wall instead! The General guy was there, brought back, and yet nothing was done with it except to explain why those mummies don't kill Rick and 'Evy'.

It was one of those movies that basically shouldn't have ever been made... but to make it so badly is unforgivable.

[personal profile] logansrogue: DON'T WATCH IT!!

*

Mamma Mia was OK. It took me a long time (at least half the movie) to get into it. The singing was adequate but not excellent, the dancing was lacklustre and the scenery was the best thing of the whole movie. I didn't dislike it, certainly.

I have issues with Abba anyway. When I was about ten, I really got into them - I wanted that red spiky hair that Frida had in the latter days. I even saw Abba: The Movie more than once. Problem was, at the first music lesson we had at secondary school we were asked what music we liked. I said, without shame: Abba. This was 1993 and they were not held in the esteem they now possess. This was 1993, before they became cool again, before Mamma Mia and dozens of shit weekend TV programmes featuring 'celebrities' talking about and performing Abba songs. This is before they were on the cover of MOJO magazine and before they were being called 'perfect pop'.

Still, this was before X-Factor and Popstars, so there wasn't anything truly, truly heinous to compare them to.

This would be fine... except that this one answer to one question shaped, more than almost anything, the way my scholastic career was to pan out. 'Abbafan' became a great insult and it was flung at me time and time again. Sure, my wearing of shocking pink baseball boots a few weeks later was to make things worse... but that one answer to one question set the scene. I'm sure I would've had a miserable seven years even if I'd answered 'rave music' like so many of the others. At the time I remember thinking: "You're eleven fucking years old, you don't go to fucking raves, you lying fuck."

Incidentally, those shocking pink Chuck Taylors now retail for £45 in the shops. I have a new pair, too. Those sneakers are fashionable (to a point) and Abba are 'cool'. I was fifteen years ahead of the curve (or indeed, thirty behind it)... and unfortunately, Abba have borne the brunt of this. I can't listen to them anymore without feeling the pain. I have a couple of their songs on my iPod actually - the depressing stuff - The Winner Takes It All and The Day Before You Came. But I don't know where my copy of Abba Gold is, even though it was one of my first ever CDs (as opposed to vinyl or cassette). I was a little surprised by the fact I still knew all the words to all the songs in the movie... but Abba will inextricably be linked to a time in my life I'm still trying to recover from.

No, I can't really blame Abba, of course I can't. Perhaps I should blame the cruelty of sheeple children. Perhaps I should blame myself. I don't know... but I can't help wonderign what would've happened if I'd answered that one question differently.........

*

Ronnie Drew
died the afternoon before I went to Ireland. He was 73, had been ill for two years and so it can hardly be considered a 'tragedy'... but I'll admit to you I saw the news on BBC News Online and sat and cried. When I tried to tell my mum what had happened, I started crying again... and she proceeded to explain to Mikey's girlfriend in a manner I considered 'belittling'. She simply doesn't understand why I feel so attached to musicians or whatever - she called them 'celebrities' and didn't even lower her fucking voice so I couldn't hear.

I wrote a post about this while I was in Ireland which maybe I'll post... but the simple fact is that Ronnie was one of Those Voices as far as I'm concerned. I didn't talk about him as much as I did people like Jim or Philip, or even your man Flynn... but his is one of the voices I love so much I can't imagine living without it. I like Luke Kelly's voice, I think it's one of the best ever, but I love Ronnie's.

The only real 'positive' I can see to this is that the timing meant that I was in the right country at the right time - Ronnie's death was covered briefly in Britain but the Irish loved the man and it was everywhere. I must've spent ten euros on newspapers over the course of my time there to get the coverage. In fact, this time last Sunday I was watching a Ronnie documentary on RTE One which I'd never have seen on British TV.

Anyway: Jim. Philip. Dino. John. George. Plant. Dylan. Ronnie. Those are the voices I don't ever want to live without, and I don't say this because Ronnie's dead. I was saying it last week. In fact, last Saturday morning I walked to my mammy & daddy's house from the town centre singing along with him. Four hours later, he was dead.

I hope he's been reunited with those he loved and who loved him that went before. He deserves naught less.

*

It was Philip Lynott's birthday on 20th August, and it was one of the reasons I chose to go to Ireland when I did. I was vaguely thinking of not going up to see him... but I woke up early, checked out and got onto the DART. I know it was only half past ten when I arrived at the cemetery (St Fintan's, Sutton) but there was nobody there! Someone had left flowers fairly recently and there was all sorts of stuff left for him as usual - you can see which is his grave from far away in the cemetery because of all the stuff around it...

But there was nobody else there! It was nice that I was there on my own, just me and my hero... but I don't want him to be forgotten. Anyway, I left him a note, as I did last time, and as I had a bunch of bracelets on, I slid the little white one off my wrist and added it to the collection of bracelets left by fans. I can live without it, after all. I hope people did go up there later in the day, because he shouldn't be forgotten. I noticed later that day that the pub near his statue was full of people outside smoking, but they were paying no attention to the statue. Fair enough, but don't forget him!

[profile] marquiserachel is right - statue does have two left feet, but it's not totally noticeable. I pointed it out on Tuesday night to some guys stood by it and we ended up conversing about Rory Gallagher, who was from Cork.

I bought myself The Essential Rory Gallagher while I was in Cork, but... I don't think I can afford to get sucked in by another Dead Irish Musician.

Speaking of Rachel: I must take you to Cork, but also to Dublin again - you'd really get a kick out of the National Museum 'annexe' at the Collins Barracks.

*

Speaking of the National Museum, I arrived there on Tuesday, fresh off the train from Cork. There I was in my big, burnt orange (Mammy swears it's 'brick' coloured) rain jacket... my Louise Brooks hair was ruined by not having straighteners with me... I felt exhausted...

And there were the 31 contestants for the Rose of Tralee for a photocall.

Now, I know that I'm no beauty, really I do. But I have never felt quite so ugly as when they trooped past me into the museum. I actually waited to see what direction they went in so I could go in the opposite.

I have never EVER wanted to be part of some idiotic beauty contest before... but I felt so... not jealous but wistful perhaps. Why? Not because they're beautiful but because it's about being Irish...

The BNP apparently tried to intercede because this year's London Rose has a Jamaican father. Quite aside from the fuckwittery of telling a black girl she can't take part in an Irish thing because she's black... they're the BRITISH National Party! What fucking business is it of theirs to dictate ANYTHING to the Irish? That's what started all the trouble before!

*

I always feel most English when I'm in Ireland. All the rest of the time I feel whatever it is I am (Irish-Anglo, I suppose)... but in Ireland I can feel all the most English traits of mine - being a bit uptight about the time, especially for trains and buses etc, whatever. But then again, i think I developed some of those from my granny, who grew up in Co. Derry, so maybe it's nothing to do with 'Englishness' or 'Irishness' at all.

I just... a bit like the Abba question, I wonder what manner of person I would be if I'd been brought up in Galway after all?

*

My friend Louise is back in England for the first time since moving to Australia. I'm off to see her on Thursday and can't wait...

Other than that, nothing interesting. How about you lot?

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