“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Welcome To Ireland, Ma’am

Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Ireland today, and naturally there’s more of a fuss being made of her visit than if she were the Queen of Sweden, say, or Swaziland. Eight hundred years of oppression, the Famine, the Black and Tans, Bobby Sands, yadda-yadda-yadda. I know that some handful of headbangers are apoplectic about the fact that the Republic of Ireland is welcoming the Queen of England to our country, and I also know that there are people who are fairly a-quiver with excitement at the prospect. Most people, as far as I can make out, are pretty blasé about it all - history is a fine thing, certainly, but it don’t boil no potatoes.
  It’ll be interesting to hear what the Queen has to say when she visits Croke Park, for sure, and there’s no doubting the historic importance of the optics of her visit, but really, very little will change. Ireland will go on treating Britain like some kind of older sibling, vaguely resentful of the bullying that went on years ago, a little envious perhaps of its self-confidence, all the while stealing its clothes and playing its games and supporting its teams - unless, of course, it’s England that looks like winning a World Cup - and tapping it up for jobs and the odd five billion now and again.
  As an Irishman, it should go without saying that if I could wave a magic wand, as Declan Kiberd said during the week, and erase the colonialism, the Famine, the Partition and the Troubles, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But I can’t. The world is the way it is, and what’s gone, to paraphrase the song, is gone and lost forever. The question is whether we want to live in the past or look to the future. Some people are happier wallowing in the mire of history, given the certainty of its prejudices; some people are happier looking forward. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m one of the latter.
  I’ve liked most English and / or British people I’ve met, and I love the culture - I support Liverpool FC; I love The Stones and The Beatles, The Smiths and Joy Division; I love the novels of David Peace, Lawrence Durrell, William Golding, John Fowles, Graham Greene, and many, many more. I grew up on a steady diet of Enid Blyton, Match of the Day and Top of the Pops. Any time I’ve visited Britain, I’ve been treated with the kind of courtesy and good manners that the Irish are supposed to be famous for. I’ve never been particularly interested in the monarchy, and I’m opposed in principle to the idea that people are born to rule, even in a titular sense; but that’s neither here nor there for the next few days.
  The Queen of England has come to visit the Republic of Ireland, and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be treated with the same respect and courtesy she offered Michael Fagan, when she chatted with him for ten minutes when he dropped by her bedroom unannounced. Welcome to Ireland, Ma’am - I sincerely hope you enjoy your stay.

10 comments:

Maxine said...

Well, I am with you on the monarchy but I suppose having our particular Queen/set up (benign neglect?!) is better than what Italy has or the prospect of France under DSK. Sweden does not seem to be doing too great today, either, I read, re their possible past Nazi connections.

@frankamcgrath said...

We'll soon have our own Queen if David Norris makes President!

Declan Burke said...

Hi Maxine - Well, under our previous (and very probably the current) government, the Irish people are being neglected in a way that couldn't be described as benign.

Frank? A touch of class, sir ...

Cheers, Dec

Photographe à Dublin said...

Most of my family live in Britain or the Commonwealth.

I simply can't understand how an adult royal is, up to today, so unfree that she cannot travel in a way that is open to anybody with the ferry fee to Holyhead.

I have no interest in history and find the official media coverage full of misleading shibboleths.



Can't wait to see which hat will be brought out for this occasion.

As for the welcome, everybody is welcome in the country I live in, I hope.

bookwitch said...

Oh.

The Queen of Sweden was barely two when the war ended. Precocious.

seana said...

I was just reminded the other night of a story one of my friends has about the Queen of England laugh. She was visiting London as a student, and somehow ended up riding in a car along side the queen's. In America, you would never get that close to the President's car but apparently it's different over there. Anyway, the cars were slowly sliding by each other and my friend waved to the queen. Only without thinking about it, she gave her a royal wave.

And now my friend can proudly say she made the Queen of England laugh.

Robert Carraher said...

My 'family' has now been American for something like 6 generations, but being hooked on history, I learned at a young age that the O'Carrahers left Ireland during the famine. Delving further I found that we came from Armagh. And as my research went deeper still, I found it near impossible to get much family history because we were Catholic and the records weren't kept - outside of tax rolls. So, when I was 20 years old and to be stationed in England with the US Air Force I was fully prepared to hate the English. Bastards welcomed me and made me at home. I still go back to a little village in East Anglia every couple of years and visit friends I made there 35 years ago. And, the beer is much better than American beer.

Tales from the Birch Wood. said...

We may well be related, Robert as one branch of my family arrived with the Norman Invasion into Antrim in 1171.

But then everybody in Ireland is related.

You might find the Rootschat site useful for making contact with other Grahams.

Photographe à Dublin said...

Sorry to have mixed up names yesterday. "Grahams" should have read "O'Carrahers", though there are probably of Grahams represented there too.

Wasn't the Queen's first outfit beautiful?

Eamonn Sweeney said...

The same welcome as she gave Michael Fagan. Cool. You mean distract her while anxiously waiting for someone to turn up and cart away this nutcase who's just broken into the place. Dec, I never knew you were a member of Eirigi.
Colfer piece is great by the way.
Maybe someone will get a book out of Nickey Brennan's attempt to use the Georgi Markov umbrella trick with his poisoned elbow.
Hope all is well, I liked cover no 2 but then again I'm notorious for having no aesthetic sense at all.