Every year, I wonder how I’m going to fill these pages for the next twelve months, but you know what? This stuff writes itself. Alll you have to do is open your ears and your eyes, look around and there it is — nonsense wherever you gaze. Stupidity, insanity and a fair sprinkling of fun even in these dark times.
January began with a fine musical tribute to our late and dear friend Des O Dwyer, one of the most wonderful electric guitar players ever. It played to a packed Dolans’ Warehouse, and if there had been room for another thousand people, they’d have come as well.
I put a load of stills and videos here. Have a look, listen and enjoy.
This is a music town. As someone said to me the other day, if you threw a stone you’d hit a musician, and the finest of the crop were on stage to remember their friend who passed away far too soon only a short few months previously.
By coincidence, that very same day, Bruff RFC won the Munster Senior Cup and this passionate little piece by Johnny Hogan, former Bruff hooker, celebrated his joy at the victory.
February brought us the ridiculous sight of disabled abuse survivors being prevented by a policeman from attending Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s liturgy of repentance, on the orders of church officials.
Mr Nice played Dolans.
Nice, he was. Sober he was not. Mr Nicely.
Entertaining he was not. I left at half time.
The government allowed a bank to fail and burned its bondholders, but the only problem was that it happened in Denmark, not Ireland.
March opened with the unthinkable: Ireland beating England in the cricket world cup. A gang of lunatics from this town went to India for the tournament and attended the match, even appearing on the television, waving a flag for Limerick.
There was Tedfest, of which we should say no more for the sake of decency, but for the fact that we got our very first Father Ted Taoiseach. The Moriarty Tribunal accused Ben Dunne and Michael Lowry of undiluted corruption, as opposed to the very diluted fraud that is homeopathy.
Sadly, a jury failed to agree on the identity of the scumbag who murdered Shane Geoghegan and the man who was accused walked free. Since he must be innocent, only he knows why he winked at the bereaved family as he left the court.
April kicked off with a nice, if narrow victory over Leinster.
It was followed by a very strange incident involving the Gardai policing the Corrib gas protests, in which a conversation in a squad car was inadvertently recorded on a confiscated video camera. I had fairly strong views on this, because, although I think the Corrib project is straightforward theft, I still didn’t like the PC spin that was put on this. Talking of PC, some people weren’t too happy when I asked what jokes should be allowed.
Haughey’s family donated his yacht to the State and made a big deal of it, even though it should have been seized from the old crook years ago as the proceeds of corrupt transactions.
The Nyberg Report was published, inquiring into the operations of the Irish banking sector. It concluded that everyone was either incompetenet, corrupt or stupid. No surprises there.
Meanwhile, an Irish businessman, Peter Bond, scraped a few cheap bucks by sneering at Christopher Hitchens’s cancer diagnosis. A vile piece of work, we’ll waste no more time on this shitbag.
Sean Quinn went broke, but not in the way you or I would go broke, and certainly not in the way that Ireland’s biggest ever crook would go broke: Joe McGrath, the man who defrauded thousands in his Hospitals Sweepstakes scam.
Limerick City Council decided that our ancient heritage counted for nothing and began smashing down ancient cellars in pursuit of even more traffic on the streets, despite the fact that we’re in a recession and the worst of it is gone.
Classy or what?
May came in with a crash as the Coronas played the Milk Market — a wonderful new venue right in the heart of Limerick.
That was after Riverfest, another fun day in the city.
It was also the day the Americans whacked Osama bin Laden in an operation where they entered the territory of an ally without prior warning and conducted a military operation to kill a man. On the other hand, since bin Laden was living in the middle of a suburb where Pakistan’s top generals all live, it was understandable that they might have felt it wasn’t a great plan to tell these people what was happening. One way or another, nobody really cared.
Of much more concern was Professor Morgan Kelly’s prediction that Ireland will become bankrupt due to our bank bailout, but again, nobody cared, because this is Ireland, and we don’t do taking things seriously.
Catdigg cheered us up, as we knew it would and we look forward to many more.
And I did a little one-man show in front of a small audience.
Garret the Good died, a man of integrity in a time of thieves. He was baffled, though not as conflicted as some loyalist and republican extremists who found common cause opposing the Queen’s visit to Ireland. Despite all my vast reserves of cynicism, I thought the old bird was sincerely bent on addressing some of the old enmities, as was Dave the PM who broke with all protocol and accompanied the Monarch on the state visit which lasted a full four days, even shedding a manly tear during the speech by Mary McAleese. In the world of buttoned-up diplomacy, this was a huge statement of intent.
May was also the month, of course, when we provided Diageo, a multinational corporation, with a huge advertising coup by having the US president drink a glass of its beer. Did we bring Barack Obama to one of our high-tech IT industries? No. Did we show him the essence of our green island by conducting him around a food-producing facility?
No. We took him to a pub and fawned on him as he swallowed a pint of Diageo beer in front of the cameras.
Score for reinforcing national stereotypes, Ireland!
May was also the month in which Leinster beat Northampton to win the Heineken Cup, coming back from an absolute drubbing in the first half to hammer their opponents in the second. There was nothing I could feel for them but admiration.
This month, I discovered the most insane company ever. Ainsworths. Supliers of homoeopathic remedies to the British royal family. If you need homoeopathic remedies based on
Rat’s blood, the wreck of the Helvetia, tofu, sausages, Viagra, microwaves, carpet, ham, sardines or dog-shit, these are the very people for you. I am not making this up.
It was also the month I started pointing out that spraying your name on things is not art, and in consequence attracted a shitstorm of abuse from assorted narcissistic idiots.
Further afield, they finally nailed Mladic, the murderer who slaughtered countless thousands in Bosnia.
June. I begin my fightback against the graffiti fascists by setting up an exhibition of uncommissioned street art based on litter. This is the output of the artist known only as GOWL, who works exclusively in cigarette butts and sweet-wrappers.
It was followed rapidly by the sublime Imelda May in the Milk Market. A night to remember.
June was the month when a UN commission exposed the scandal of slavery in Ireland and I started to examine the census records in earnest and went through the lists of those who inhabited the Good Shepherd unofficial women’s prison, which is now home to Limerick School of Art and Design. In this place, women and girls were locked up by heartless, abusive nuns, with the collusion of the Irish state. The independent and free Irish state, run by Irish people for Irish people.
Around this time, the shafting of David Norris as a presidential candidate began to gain momentum, when the Independent’s political editor Fionnán Sheahan wrote an innuendo-filled piece calling his integrity into question. The vultures were circling.
Michael Noonan briefly gave us pause when he announced that We don’t think the Irish taxpayer should have to redeem what has become speculative investment. But of course, as we all know now, he was whipped into line by his colleagues, just as the Greek prime minister was later forced to obey the diktats of the European project. No more of that talk from Baldy, I suspect.
On a happier note, the Limerick Milk Market won an award.
Further afield, the Bahreini authorities shot and tortured their citizens including many doctors, while the RCSI stood silent and failed to speak out for its many graduates imprisoned by the regime in that country. When it came to a contest between money and ethics, the College of Surgeons went for the obvious choice. Bucks.
In mid-July, the Commission of investigation into the diocese of Cloyne published its report, a damning compendium of incompetence and evil. Bishop John Magee failed to address the problem, concealed relevant facts and lied to the HSE about his policies on protecting children., but at least he had the decency to apologise even if it was in a grudging sort of way and from a safe distance.
And yet, that same month, we had the wonderful spectacle of the tall ships, recorded by one of our contributors.
Towards the end of the month, Enda Kenny stunned everyone by condemning the Vatican and the Papal Nuncio for failing to cooperate with investigations into child abuse. It was a Bishop Brennan moment and nobody quite knew how to react, least of all the Vatican which seemed shocked into silence. Nobody — certainly no Irish politician — had ever spoken to them like this before, and they promptly withdrew their ambassador in a huff. I was quite proud of the Father Ted Taoiseach that day, I have to admit.
The Pope wasn’t the only all-powerful world figure to get a slap in the face that month. Rupert Murdoch had to endure humiliation of his own as News International underwent public dissection like never before. Needless to mention, nobody here took the slightest pleasure in the discomfiture of Murdoch or Charlie Brookes.
As the month came to an end, David Norris’s presidential campaign came off the rails.
August brought the fatal blow to Norris’s chances when a nasty little troll slipped the knife between his ribs. The same troll had often contributed to this site and was an active propagandist for the Israeli government who clearly didn’t want a man like Norris in the Irish presidency.
Steve Jobs stepped down from Apple this month, but it seems to have been a singularly uneventful period because I can’t find much else to remind us of.
Let’s move on to September which started with the Dale Farm travellers losing their appeal against eviction from their illegal halting site. Every sort of PC nutcase, including Vanessa Redgrave was out defending the travellers who were facing disaster, including having to return to their five-bedroom houses in Rathkeale.
Limerick Gay Pride was its usual demented fun, although I wasn’t able to last the whole day. Still, though, it was a good laugh for a man of my age. I go on this every year and it’s always something that makes me proud of Limerick, apart from the occasional down-with-this-sort-of-thing protesters. They disappointed me this year by failing toi turn up when I was all prepared to get their pictures and do a bit of video. Damn you, intolerant religious protesters, for being so inconsiderate. Here’s a few pics.
We had a wonderful night of conkers.
And we had a first-hand report from Lebanon on the Syrian situation.
October brought us Flann O’Brien’s birthday, followed immediately by Steve Jobs’s demise. Much of October was too boring to bother with apart from Billy Bragg in Dolans which is an interesting conjunction, given Billy’s views on global corporations (views I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with).
Gadaffy was executed like a dog at the side of the road after being sexually assaulted and I have to say that I found the entire thing repulsive. He was a murderer, a tyrant, a despot, but he was also a human being. Worse, I think those who did the things to him that have been reported are lesser men for it. So much for the Islamic code.
Meanwhile, silly old Greece thought it was a democracy and called a referendum on the EU loan, otherwise known as a bailout when talking about Ireland. They weren’t long finding out the reality.
November. Within a few days of his statement on the Greek referendum, Papandreou is summoned before Sarkozy and Merkel to receive a lesson in realpolitik. He’s sent back to Greece with a flea in his ear and is shortly deposed in fa vour of a compliant EU technocrat. The end of democracy in Greece.
Not long afterwards, Earth narrowly avoided impact with a giant asteroid that would have rendered all talk of the Euro academic as its impact wiped us out and replaced us with a kind, gentle, contemplative species, but sadly, this was not to be. The planet remains in the grip of the most destructive animal it ever spawned.
Shane Geoghegan’s family retained their dignity in the face of shocking violence and ignorance, finally bringing their Pitch for Shane to fruition. This was a wonderful statement of civilisation in the face of unlettered savagery and a distillation of the innate decency the Limerick people possess.
Who could fail to smile at Michael D winning the presidency? Let’s forget the ridiculous Sean Gallagher and the equally ludicrous Dana for a moment, and let’s give thanks that we elected a man of decency and intellect to the role, instead of a failed businessman and TV game-puppet, or a demented right-wing Catholic country singer.
He’s not the worst.
We had a bit of a controversy later in the month when a fool who had been elected as mayor of Naas announced that he wouldn’t represent black Africans. They were too rude, he said. Instead of telling rude people to behave themselves, as he was fully entitled to do, Darren Scully decided that all black Africans were off the agenda, and in doing so, he made a national laughing stock of himself.
Gavin Friday lifted my spirits a few days later with his decadent, syncopated, mitteleuropäische posturing, redolent of the Weimar Republic before the deluge, much like our little republic today. As he strutted around the stage, it was hard not to imagine Berlin between the wars, or indeed, any other European city. The difference is that these days, we’re no longer exempt by virtue of neutrality. This time, we’re right in the firing line.
In mid –December, Obama suddenly announced that the invasion of Iraq was over. It was a strange moment, a strange and somewhat unreal double-take as we all looked at each other and said What?
They’ve invaded, smashed and dismantled a country that never attacked them. They’ve disrespected, dislocated and humiliated an entire culture. A society based on personal dignity that they forced to endure the horrors of Abu Ghraib, of midnight raids on homes, of men forced to the floor in front of their families. In any other land, those who fought against invaders would be called heroes. If an Israeli or an American or an Irishman resisted a foreign army, they’d be called patriots or The Resistance, but in Iraq they were called insurgents.
The US introduced Islamic militancy to a land that was formerly secular. They drove tanks through the Garden of Eden and now they’re saying Mission Accomplished?
Are these people living on the same planet as the rest of us?
Stop me now. We had a great night in Bourkes as the UL interactive media postgrad students put on a show of four short movies based on Bock short stories. We had a great night, and the event raised a few shillings for cancer research as well. What’s not to like?
Of all the videos, this one resonates with me, perhaps because it was the most heartfelt when I wrote it, but also because this was the one they represented most faithfully.
Apart from that, I’m sure many other things happened in 2011, but I was too lazy or too drunk to notice them. These are among the many things covered on Bock this year, but far from the only ones.
Who’s to say what next year will bring?