On this day, 24th April 2016 …

We Irish have an elastic relationship with reality in so many ways.

We convinced ourselves for years that we punched above our weight in Europe, until the time came for Europe to help us during the banking crisis and then we discovered just how lightweight we really were.

Some of us bask in the satisfaction of believing that we’re the most moral country in Europe because we make sure women with no money and women too ill to travel can’t have an abortion.

Many think we’re great talkers, but we have a parliament full of mumbling, shuffling clods unable to string two words together without the aid of notes scrawled on a beer mat.

Welcome to the home of Magic Realism, where the laws of existence are suspended and where the universe bends itself to the will of our imaginations. Rushdie would understand our world. Marquez would know Ireland inside out. Mistry would get us.

This is a country — perhaps the only country in the world — where it’s possible to have two centenaries for the same event on different dates and that’s quite an achievement. Only in Ireland would ninety-nine years and eleven months constitute a centenary, but that’s us.  Bending space-time is our speciality.

Now here we are on the actual, celestial centenary of the 1916 rising and to be frank with you, it seems a little grey.

siege of troyI did a search and discovered that there isn’t a whole heap to mark April 24th, but what does exist ranges from miserable to downright drab, with only the occasional highlight to relieve the misery.

Bizarrely, this is the day on which people traditionally remember the fall of Troy, but it’s hard to imagine who does this. Are there Trojans marching in the streets of Gytheio today demanding justice for their city?

It’s also the beginning of the Armenian genocide, an event the Turks refuse to acknowledge, particularly under their charming leader Erdogan who insists that anyone who laughs at him should be jailed?

Churchill was knighted on the 24th April 1953, much to my surprise since I thought he’d been knighted long before that, and of course, when I say Churchill, I don’t mean Randolph. You’d imagine Britain would have been more grateful than a miserable knighthood for the man who led them through the battle with Hitler’s Nazi regime, but there you are. In fact they kicked him out of office straight after the war. There’s gratitude for you. I once read somewhere that DeValera visited him when he was re-elected as Prime Minister and that, to their mutual surprise, they found much in common with each other. I suppose, since Dev was 71 and Winnie was 78, one thing they had in common was their impending mortality, though Dev was to survive a further 22 years and Churchill another 11.

This is also the day on which Ratzinger ascended to the throne of Rome but on the positive side, it’s also the date on which the Hubble telescope went into Space and thus we have a nice counterpoint between darkness and light.

It’s Census Day, of course. Let’s not forget that. This is Census Day. The day on which Irish people pretend they can speak Irish because they understand the news as Gaeilge, and also the day on which they pretend to practise a religion because they book a church and a bouncy castle for their children’s First Holy Communion, the only time they’ll ever appear before an altar for the next few years.  But who could blame them since this is the only way, in the Ireland of 2016, they can get their kids into a state-funded school?

There aren’t many famous birthdays this day.

Barbra Streisand hardly qualifies as famous any more and Philippe Pétain is a figure of contempt in history.

That leaves only one well-known person in Ireland: Enda Kenny, who hits 65 today.

I told you the list was drab.



7 thoughts on “On this day, 24th April 2016 …

  1. I note that on the question about speaking Irish, if you are a student there is an option stating that you speak it daily through the education system. Is this just a way to increase the numbers despite very few students being able to hold a conversation in Irish

  2. Scriobh me an Census areir, so I’ll be counted when the enumerator calls to our door. Only one small radiator works regularly upstairs when I light a coal fire in the sitting room. I have therefore ticked 1. no central heating, on page 2 and hope it doesn’t give the computer people at HQ the impression that we spend the winter evenings in a freezebox. I note that in the religion question C of I, presbyterian and orthodox are listed, but methodists, baptists and quakers are not [they were listed in a constitutional clause that was repealed around 1972, along with Jews]. Such people must now tick 6. other (write in the box), on page 4. Shakers, Christadelphians & Mennonites must do similar. This question certainly tests literacy skills, as individuals write things like zen buddhist, zoroastrian, sikh, flying spaghettist, bahai, new ageist and druidic order, in the boxes provided. I wish the census analysts a Happy Summer Equinox, whenever that is.

  3. In a 1950s Census my mother mistakenly stated that we had three bedrooms in our Co. Limerick Council house instead of just the two shared by nine of us.
    Before the ink was dry an Army truck squealed to a halt outside the door with a gift from Eamon Dev in the shape of three Hungarian refugees, two children and an old lady not related to them. They took up residence in our non existent spare bedroom for nearly a year!
    Dangerous things, those Census forms.

  4. “You’d imagine Britain would have been more grateful than a miserable knighthood”

    actually they offered him the title of Duke of London, but he turned it down (“Churchill considered accepting the offer of a dukedom but eventually declined it; the lifestyle of a duke would have been expensive, and accepting any peerage might have cut short a renewed career in the Commons for his son Randolph and in due course might also prevent one for his grandson Winston.”)

  5. Barbara Striesand is sometime a “pain in the …” but she is one of the great voices of our time.

    Fully agree with your comments on why we needed to “celebrate” 1916 twice – I could not believe it….

    From my point of view April 24th is the birthday of my mother and my youngest sister….

    Disappointed to hear they share with Enda….

  6. The name ‘Shirley Maclaine’ might still be known to many of a certain generation, but as she’s apparently had many birthdays maybe she should be excluded anyway :)

    Politicians mumbling? Maybe that’s a godsend. The alternative is to listen to eloquently delivered bullshit!

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