* So Are You Feeling Inspired Yet?
This morning, Irish people all over the world woke up to a request that they be inspired. From their Government. A bunch of lads not particularly famed in song and verse for inspiring anything other than a urgent need to emigrate and/or burn Leinster House to the ground.
The Inspire Ireland video, three minutes of Lovely, Lovely Irish Irishness that don't so much tug at the heart-strings as go at them with a chainsaw, would bring a tear to your eye. Or a little sick into your mouth. Depending on how ready you are to be "inspired" by a country that has, since 2009, inspired 300,000 + people, mostly young, to get the hell out as fast as the passport office could process them.
That's famine level emigration. Or what one report recently called a "devastating blow to the Irish economy that could be felt for decades".
Have a look at this BBC report for the alternative view - BBC - Youth Emigration Will Be "devastating" for Irish Economy.
How many of the young hurlers featured in the Inspire Ireland video are already in Australia or thinking of joining their brothers, sisters, cousins and best friends out there?
Call us a curmudgeon, call us a cynic. But isn't there something a little off, a little hollow, a tiny bit strange about a country that is mired in deep malaise, hit on a weekly basis by ever more bizarrely OTT scandals (Rehab being a case in point) and hemorrhaging citizens, needing to celebrate itself?
Ireland is deeply dysfunctional. We all know that. The evidence is all around us. Nothing works as it should. Ever pillar of society, from the church, to the banks, our politics, our business elite and our police force has crumbled or started to topple before our eyes over the past decade. There is no longer anything holding up the roof. It seems redundant to point that out, but we just can't seem to face up to the facts and deal with them. We retreat into some nebulous, warm and fuzzy cloud of Irishness. Sure we may be in dire straits, but we'll always have Jimmy Joyce, JFK and the Kilkenny hurlers. What THE FECK is wrong with us? Can't we deal with this like rational human beings, identify the problems and just forget the misty green hills for a second and start to sort it out?
Sure, the video looks lovely. But it's PR Guff. Slickly produced and very lovely looking PR Guff, but PR Guff all the same.
And you don't have to be a raging cynic to think; "Hold on a second, just who are the Government trying to reach here, Yank tourists or its own citizens, at home or abroad?"
One of the big growth industries in Dublin right now is in the area of PR/Consultancy/Propaganda, well-paid young men and women using every trick in the book to reassure us that it's all going to be great! Start selling houses to each other again! Sure the worst is over. WE ARE THE FIRST COUNTRY TO EXIT THE BAIL-OUT! ...unbelievably, that line is in there. Well lads, tell us the story of how we got into that particular jam in the first place? Using freckle-faced callins if possible. Because we still don't know, do we?
We're only just starting to find out about Anglo and as for the events on the night the Bank Guarantee was signed, you might as well ask about the Third Secret Of Fatima.
This celebratory tendency tends to ignore the fact that there has been zero visible root and branch reform. That nothing has really changed, that we have already wasted a once in a century chance to push the reset button and change the way this Republic works. And treats its citizens.
You can't really blame the Department of Foreign Affairs. They got a brief and a job to do. And to be fair, they did it brilliantly. The Inspire Ireland video did almost bring a tear to my eye, especially since I recently relocated to London for a bit and am missing home (it's weird, I used to miss Cork when I was in Dublin, now I miss Cork and Dublin because I am in England. I'm getting further and further away from home. And the cheese in the English Market).
If I was a Yank - I would be booking the first flight to Dublin.
It's all in there, the shots of strapping young hurlers in dusky light, the singers, poets, sportsmen and freckle-faced young boys and girls. It looks fecking gorgeous.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the video. But it is (unfairly or not) a reminder that we want to celebrate who we are without being truthful about it. We are as much Bertie Ahern as Henry Shefflin. Tom McFeely (the Priory Hall developer) as much as Michael Collins. Jedward as Thin Lizzy.
As one of our greatest politicians once pointed out (in song, no less) - we're all kinds of everything. Good, bad, ugly, brilliant, stupid, greedy, generous, inspired and dull.
But the one area in which we tend to fall down - is facing up to the cold facts and the tough job that has to be done. The house is on fire, so let's stick on the auld Riverdance DVD.
There's a shot of JFK in the video (and what exactly has that guy got to do with Ireland in 2014?) which suggests emigration was great for the likes of him. And it was. When JFK went back to Waterford during his 1960s visit he made a speech in which he speculated what would have happened to him if his grandfather had never left their ancestral home. He joked that he might have been working in the factory across the way. Well, if he had stayed, he be a raging alcoholic and a frustrated sex-maniac, getting a belt of the priest's blackthorn stick every saturday night. He would probably have gone quietly mad with frustration & potential denied, as so many Irish men of that generation did.
So watch the Inspire Ireland video, it's a great bit of work. But maybe you might want to think about Rehab and Bertie Ahern while doing so.
Oh, and happy St Patrick's Day, wherever you are! You'll never beat the Irish! Woo!