Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Come Down off Your Throne Frank Murphy

The brother got me a good ticket for last Sunday's Munster Final - Tipperary against Waterford at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Good competitive match with Tipp's skill prevailing over Waterford's blood and sweat. I do wish Tipp didn't faff about so much in front of goal - often foregoing points by trying to score elaborate goals. The crowd were great, knowledgeable and generous. When Waterford stalwart Tony Browne was taken off late in the match the Tipp supporters gave him a warm round of applause. I noticed Frank Murphy (the legendary Cork County Board secretary) nearby in the VIP section. A vision in beige and white - scimitar snout a-twitch as he surveyed his domain.   I couldn't recognise half the players with helmets now being mandatory. Even the foxy and fiery John Mullane was not immediately apparent. I suppose I could have bought a program.

Cork people are proud of their GAA history - and with good reason. However they should be deeply ashamed of their appalling headquarters. Aside from the excellent pitch, the rest of the facilities are dirty, dismal, and potentially dangerous. The tunnel under the main stand that houses changing rooms, toilets and refreshment areas is way too narrow and unfit for the kind of crowds that attend big matches.  Does Cork not have a fire officer? The teams had to fight their way through the assembling crowd to get onto the pitch. A glimpse of one of the dressing rooms showed exposed wiring and tubing. Not to mention the gross disparity between the home and away facilities. Also, the seats in the stand were designed for midgets. I managed to squeeze myself in but the six foot plus guy behind me was nudging my back for the entire match.  The toilets were completely inadequate (lengthy queues, especially for the Ladies)  - and indescribably filthy. And check out the gym - is that a joke?  And what are the big dirty tyres for?

If Frank Murphy is the most powerful man in Cork GAA then maybe he should get his beige flannelled arse in gear, come down off his ridiculous throne (see below), and do something about this criminally decrepit heap.

Frank's Throne in Pairc ui Chaoimh

A Funeral in Kerry

A first cousin dies, on my father's side, the oldest surviving male from that branch of the family. (I'm next.) So I hie myself south dutifully - but also with curiosity as I see very little of my Kingdom cousins. We arrive in a packed funeral home in Tralee.  The corpse is on display - not looking too good. I'd have given him a bit of colour. Corpses leave me relatively unmoved as they are palpably shells. The family are arranged around the perimeter of the room and we (my two brothers are with me) do a circuit of hand-shaking - hard for us, tedious I'm sure for them.  I have no idea who many of them are - partners and children of cousins and nephews etc.  Then we proceed to a anteroom and wait for the lengthy line of sympathisers to travel the same via dolorosa. It's teeming down outside.

When the whole town has paid its respects (or so it seems), the doors into the viewing room are shut and last farewells are said. The doors open again and eight male family members emerge to shoulder the coffin and slow march down the street to the church a few hundred yards away. They are followed by the hardiest of the mourners. The rest of us divert to our cars and get there relatively dry. At the church we join the sodden funeral party to say a decade of the rosary and listen to a few readings. The main event will be tomorrow.

And then back to the son's house to a laden table (cake, sandwiches, fancy savouries) and an inexhaustible supply of drink. The smokers are undeterred by the cause of death (lung cancer) as they assume a position just outside the kitchen door where the cakes and ale are within easy reach.  A good night ensues.  All agree we should try to meet more frequently, and not just at funerals.  Although funerals may soon start getting more frequent.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Rancid Ruminations - July 2012

Aosdána eh, you have to laugh in order not to cry. What is it for? Maybe it helps out the odd indigent genius but by and large its sole purpose seems to be to piss off those who can't get in.The idea of an artist's union is essentially risible anyway. I like my artists as outsiders pouring scorn on the pragmatic preposterous world - not cosying together in cliques making sure no unruly elements get in. They meet and pontificate to no avail - as in their recent airy effusions on the hare-brained plan to yoke our various cultural institutions together. And their finest hour was surely the election of that irredeemable old fascist Francis Stuart to the position of tSaoi. In recent times I notice they're electing architects.  What's next, pastry chefs?

All this crap about McGuinness shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth. I for one am disgusted with him. How can you call yourself a republican and kowtow to this ridiculous lame-brained privileged anachronism. What's wrong with the Brits that they tolerate her and her ilk? Is it sentimentality for lost glory? How can you be happy to be a subject and refer to someone as "your highness"?  I like to believe that we're all equal and no man is my better by divine right. Confiscate her property and assets for the common weal I say - they need the money.  Give her a nice house and a nice pension (a few horses even) and trot her out to impress the tourists when required. For God's sake grow up.

I do despair of our politicians. Does anyone take anything they say and do seriously. Little Enda trotting around Europe acting as if someone over there gives a shit about Ireland's financial plight. And Gilmore at home suffocating us with blandness - socialist firebrand eh. The Croke Park agreement is a scam - agreed by one weak government, and confirmed by another weak government. It's inspired by fear of the public-service unions and the desire for a quiet life - it's Benchmarking Mark II. And it's palpably unsustainable. The culture in the public service (increments, everyone's great, sickies by right, inflexible work practices,  fat pensions etc.) will take generations to change. We need a purge now. Abolish this ludicrous agreement - let them strike. Courage mon amour.