Saturday, April 30, 2011

Schull Meanderings

It’s curious the way outsiders (mostly French) have taken over a lot of the businesses in Schull. As you walk down the main street you start with a tapas bar (Casa Diageo) that is run by a Spaniard with very rudimentary English – not bad but a very dodgy wine list. Next comes Gwen’s selling designer chocolates run by a French couple – hardly a viable business you would have thought but it seems to be enduring. A few doors down is The Fish Shop run by a tall, young French guy who will spend time preparing the fish to your liking – often to the chagrin of the next person in the queue. Further down is the Paradise Creperie, again French run, which seems to charge Parisian prices - €8 for a filled crepe. Then there’s the takeaway (the Punjab something or other) that I’ve never been in but is manned by a team of unhappy looking Asians. Down towards the harbour (during the summer only) is L’Escale, the very popular fish and chip shop run by a middle-aged French man deficient in the social graces. Nice fish – shame about the batter. As you leave town there’s the New Haven run by another French guy – a noisy but serviceable bistro. No gourmets need apply. Then if you want a pint in Hackett’s you are likely to be served by an Australian, a surly Czech girl, or a couple of French lads.

The pubs in Schull are pretty well segregated in terms of clientele. The Courtyard, once the heart of the village, shows no sign of reopening. Its various incarnations since Denis Quinlan left have not been successful. The Black Sheep is the venue of choice for the brasher younger locals. They serve dodgy pub food and sport on TV dominates. I don’t darken its door. The Tigin seems popular with families, but it lacks character and the large taciturn owner seems to imbue the place with a brooding presence. The Bunratty does food and attracts the middle-aged Derby and Joan types and families. The owner is a charmless Brit. Newman’s was burnt out recently and is only back in a limited way. It’s popular with the sailing fraternity and the Cork professional classes. To be avoided. – too much braying Across the road is Hackett’s, hang out for artists, crusties, slumming sailing types, and bohemians from the hinterland. It has an appealing grunginess and tolerates dogs. If it weren’t so busy most of the time I would give it my imprimatur. So I have taken to frequenting O’Regan’s, around the corner from Newman’s and down towards the harbour. It’s run by a personable young local couple. Its customers are local fishermen and old snedgers mainly. A feature of all these pubs is the superb quality of the Guinness. Why can’t we enjoy the same quality around Dublin? One of life’s great mysteries

Monday, April 18, 2011

This Sporting Life - April 2011

1. Insightful article by David Walsh in yesterday's Sunday Times about Rory McElroy. The gist of it is that when the pressure comes on McElroy the flaws in his game show up. And, as I've often said, putting in his major weakness - particularly from about 8 feet in. He spurned at least a dozen opportunities from this range over the 4 days of the Masters. I doubt he'll ever win a major unless he solves this problem. And putting is famously impervious to remedial treatment. Remember the young Garcia and all the greatness that was predicted for him? He too had a putting weakness and is now a fading figure - all those predictions of fame and glory come to naught.

2. It was great to see the cavaliers of Leinster put Leicester, those roundheads of English rugby, to the sword last week. They did it by beating them at their own game up front and then unleashing the sublime Nacewa to apply the coup de grace. It was an efficient and pragmatic display and I can't see them failing to regain the Heineken Cup now. Meanwhile in Brive Munster were giving one of the great displays of back play in the history of European competition - with a little help from the local team. The back three of Howlett, Jones and Earls ran amok on the sun-baked turf. They will surely win the Amlin Cup now. We can also look forward to a Magner's League final between Leinster and Munster. This will be tight but will be won by Leinster because they have a stronger pack - especially now with O'Connell injured.

3. The hurling season is beginning to bubble up nicely. Who could have predicted yesterday's results. Dublin beating Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, hapless Wexford drawing with Tipp in Thurles, and Galway losing again to Waterford. Tipp can probably do without a League final against Kilkenny at this stage of the season - they can deal with them in September. Declan Ryan is blooding a lot of new talent and it'll be fascinating to see who he picks against Cork. I can't see any challenge to Tipp in Munster this year and I have a sneaky feeling that Kilkenny are a team on the turn - too many trips to the well for a lot of them. Galway may be the big danger. We shall see.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at IMMA

It's good to see a major international show at IMMA - it gives me a good excuse to go around the corner to the Royal Oak for a few pints afterwards.

There was a huge turn out for this gig, not just the usual liggers that IMMA attracts but a lot of senior arts people and artists. It was sponsored by BNY Mellon and the Mexican Embassy were involved so we got Margaritas, Mexican beer, and lots of canapes - followed by a mariachi band.

This was the first big arts event attended by the new Minister for Arts (Jimmy Deenihan) so there were some pointed remarks by Eoin McGonigal the chairman of the board at IMMA about arts funding. As 2011 is IMMA's 20th anniversary he used the occasion to celebrate IMMA's achievements during this period and to assert its major role in the cultural life of the country. He also came out with an interesting Freudian slip (if indeed it was a slip) in thanking the Department of Arts for their "subversion". He may have meant to say subvention. The most interesting thing Deenihan came up with was his commitment to setting up an Arts and Film TV channel and the promotion of the arts in our education system - especially at primary level.

As for the show, the most striking piece was Rivera's cooly erotic painting of Natasha Gelman. There are plenty of Kahlo's ornate and exotic works on show - interesting but not really my thing. I do like the way she always includes her moustache - a faint whisper after her emphatic eyebrows.