He covets the precious things of the shop

There must be something in the Irish psyche that just likes complaining. Or maybe it is just my psyche, but whatever! I’ve had enough of this weather. No, it hasn’t rained. And it is still fairly warm out, but I’ve just had enough. I’m bored.

It isn’t that I want rain exactly, its just I want a bit of a change.

Maybe if it was non-stop blue skies I’d be fine, but lately we’ve had blue skies in the morning followed by cloudy humid afternoons.

Bored now, change the weather.

I was browsing through The Sligo Champion, and of course took a look at the Local Notes section. This is where all the news that is too boring to report but might be of use to all of five people gets listed. But this week, well, they really shone with the following story:

TWO bus loads of children from Strandhill National School went on an outing to Athlone on Thursday last. The children, who were accompanied by their teachers, visited places of interest in the midland town and dined out at McDonald’s.

Dined out at McDonald’s! How exciting, and worth reporting too.

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78 Responses

  1. anne says:

    And that's how McDonald's advertises without having to pay for it…

  2. Fence says:

    Maybe that is it Anne, the Champion is secretly funded by the fast food chain…

  3. Mal says:

    It's not as good as my local freesheet having as their headline that a well-loved local dog had been found safe and well. And this is in Dublin…we're meant to have stabbings and shootings all the time!

    I think that news story you quoted is quaint and nice.

  4. Mal says:

    I also like the idea of measuring children by the bus-load.

  5. Talena says:

    You should come to Alberta–the local saying is "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it'll change."

    McDonald's? Seriously? *Grimace* No comment.

  6. Ann says:

    I was looking at the Met Eirrean site today because I was curious about the rain stats for this month. After nearly drowning last months, it seems like we've had no rain in June. And indeed, I was nearly correct. Dublin Airport has recorded .1 mm of rain for the entire month.

    <a&gt <a href="http://;http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly-data.asp?Num=69” target=”_blank”>;http://www.met.ie/climate/monthly-data.asp?Num=69

  7. Andi says:

    I hear ya on the boring weather. Texas is hot, sunny, dry. BORING. I would give a kidney for rain right about now. Even if it does cause an algae bloom in my pool.

  8. Kelly says:

    "Bored now…" TOTAL evil Willow. Hahahahahaaha!!

  9. sally says:

    Eh, here we have had over 30 inches of rain in the past month and a half…now if I had McDonalds during that time. It would have been worth it!!!

  10. Fence says:

    Quaint isn't exactly something a newspaper should be aiming for though is it Mal?

    Talena, normally it is like that here too, the weather'll change in the time between looking out the window and heading out the door.

    Ann, I haven't seen rain in almost three weeks. None at all. Although there is some promised for this weekend.

    If only I had a little puppy to play with Kelly :twisted:

    Sally 30 inches sounds like a lot.

  11. NineMoons says:

    It rained on the car this morning in Drawda. OK, more of a spittin' but still.

    Kelle-Belle, I useta have a t-shirt that said "bored now" on it. I made it mahself. And it made a lot of people say to me (in tones that suggested they were about to say something of the highest order of wit) "are ya bored, are ya?"

    Malcatraz, you NEED to move outside Dublin. This is normal in regional newspapers. In the Drogheda Independent, there was a sweet article on a local priest (no, not the one with the boo hiss concelebrated Mass problems) who carried out blessings on cars as a way of promoting road safety as a moral issue. Remember how I suggested moving to Sligo for a few months, just to try it out?

  12. NineMoons says:

    Ooops, interrupted by Bossman Pimpernel. As I was typing… moving to Sligo this Autumn would be fantabulous. No sunshine (which is good cos you hate it), lots of quaint newspaper articles to peruse, a small town where you can get to know people and (drum-roll) YEATS!

    Fence back me up!

    Also, Fence a stor, have you ever considered the lyrics of the Eagles song Desperado? It imputes unchastity to you.

  13. Mal says:

    Well, no immediate plans to move to Sligo, but I would like to go there soon.

    I am planning on exploring Ireland more. That way I can look at grass and sheep and don't have to hang around an airport lobby. Although I think the nicest part is just looking out the window of a train.

    YEATS! I'm going to see the exhib tomorrow with English Paul. I might try to nick some of the precious things. I expect W.B.'s spirit to descend upon me.

  14. Fence says:

    You forgot the wonderful language use of the Sligonians. Where things aren't bad, they are cat. And you aren't a skanger or a chav but a minker (although I think this may be fading).

  15. NineMoons says:

    Let's revive it!
    The trip to Sligo ar an traein no ar an bhus is gorgeous after Carrick. The countryside around Boyle and Ballymore is insanely beautiful. It gives me a lump in the throat. And the warrior on the hill – we always salute him when we're driving. Sigh.
    Wish I could take you down to Sligo and point things out to you. Maybe Fence will. Although she's a bit scary so maybe you should run away. Run away!

  16. NineMoons says:

    And Dad prefers Sligomen to Sligonians. But only because instead of pronouncing it Sly-go-men, he can pronounce it Slig-om-en.

  17. Mal says:

    I don't really need spectacular scenery; actually, I prefer simple open fields, hedges, sheep etc. (I like LOOKING at sheep, I mean.) It's just such a fucking relief to see miles upon miles of grass.

    Cat? I like that.

  18. NineMoons says:

    Right, so we have to find somewhere for you that isn't urban but isn't too beautiful either.
    Jesus. :-)

  19. Fence says:

    But what about the women of Sligo NM, hmmm?

    My theory is that cat is a shortening of catastrohpic. But I have no proof. And remember th is pronounced d, and instead of the other sayd d'udder, like what you get on a cow.

  20. Mal says:

    I don't MIND it being beautiful. I just don't need it to be.

  21. Mal says:

    The women of Sligo sounds like an Irish jig.

    Do you know that smashing is apparently a contraction of iss moy eh shin? Or however you Irish spell it. Ni thuigim an Gaeilge.

  22. NineMoons says:

    Is maith é sin.


  23. NineMoons says:

    Is maith é sin.

    Amadán. And stop pretending to be English.

  24. Mal says:

    I went to an all-Irish primary and secondary school, made many sincere efforts to master Gaelic grammar and spelling, heard Erse spoken all around me for half the day for fourteen years and STILL none of it stuck. There's your proof.

    And then of course there's the sublime mastery of English taken in with my mother's milk. But I'm supposed to feel uncomfortable speaking English, like wearing clothes that don't fit eh? James Joyce and his tundish. Bollocks.

  25. NineMoons says:

    You're supposed to feel uncomfortable speaking English? wtf? It was the fact that you said "you Irish" that made me say don't pretend you're English.

    And I know niente about Joyce. Apart from reading Nora. And knowing that Ulysses is supposed to be pronounced Oo-liss-ays, according to the man himself.

  26. Mal says:

    Well, that's the theory of all these dreary post-colonialist tossers, that I'm meant to feel ill at ease in an imposed language. Of course, everybody in Ireland is constantly suffering from a guilt complex inflicted by the Catholic Church as well, even if they've never been in a church in their lives, not to mention a sense of endangered identity from the fact that British soldiers were here, oh, eighty years ago.

    From Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

    — Is that called a tundish in Ireland? asked the dean. I never heard the word in my life.

    — It is called a tundish in Lower Drumcondra, said Stephen, laughing, where they speak the best English.

    — A tundish, said the dean reflectively. That is a most interesting word. I must look that word up. Upon my word I must.


    The little word seemed to have turned a rapier point of his sensitiveness against this courteous and vigilant foe. He felt with a smart of dejection that the man to whom he was speaking was a countryman of Ben Jonson. He thought:

    — The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.

    End quotation. At least Joyce was being original; the theme has been harped upon incessantly by Irish writers ever since. Well, English seems more natural than breathing to me, and I could never get the hang of the Gaelic.

    But I was merely jesting with "You Irish".

    And today's Bloomsday. Ha.

  27. Fence says:

    Mal, you are in danger of avoiding history simply because it is in the past. And as Simba learned in the Lion King, just because something is in the past doesn't mean it still can't hurt.

  28. Mal says:

    History has stopped happening and the threads connecting us to meaningful history have snapped, long ago. Community and tradition and national character are just make-believe now, material for stand-up comedians cracking jokes about the Irish supposed national character. It's what Freud called the narcissism of petty differences; we make a big deal about the Angeles and our tiny smattering of local slang to hide the fact that Ireland is dead. And the same applies to other countries. Consumerism, technology and popular culture did more damage to Ireland in half a century than the British did in 800 years. And WE are responsible. We wanted rap music instead of ballads and commuter suburbs instead of communities, and to be like the glamorous people in the magazines.

    I can't even go down to the country, or read a Walter Macken novel, without feeling unbearable sadness. I'd rather not think about what's been lost. Irishness and Englisness only exist in books and films and art now. Let's stop pretending.

  29. Fence says:

    Mal, you are so very wrong. Go down the country and you'll meet plenty of old fashioned Irish; even if it is only batchelor farmers in their eighties who cycle every where.

    But that's old Irishness, nothing wrong with the new sort.

  30. NineMoons says:

    And that only existed for a short period of time anyway. Everything changes all the time. Maybe it happens faster now but it always happened anyway. And being aware of other cultures doesn't mean we decide they are better than our own and replace our own with them. It can mean choosing a la carte from a wonderful selection of cultures. Remember that phrase from our history books "became more Irish than the Irish themselves"? We've always absorbed incoming cultures, just like everybody else does. I'm just as Irish as my great-great-great etc grandmother, even if she spoke Irish daily and ate potatoes and left food out for the wee folk. It's just different being Irish now than it was then. Just as it was different being Irish ten years ago. But the perception of "Irishness" being more Irish years ago isn't accurate either – everything wasn't as we imagine it was in the twenties or the fifties.
    Having said all that, I still love the notion of Irishness. Of a national character. Even if it's not real and never could be!

  31. Mal says:

    I'd love to agree with you but I don't. What are these other cultures? I absolutely believe that in the past cultures were fluid, constantly cross-fertilising, fusing, borrowing from each other. But that's gone now, too.

    A culture is living when its creating new forms, but what are the new forms of Irishness? We still fall back on the GAA and traditional music and all that stuff.

    In the Western world, we all wear the same clothes, eat the same food, watch the same television programmes (even if they're dubbed in some countries), listen to the same music, live and work in the same buildings. And I'm sure this bland non-culture is making inroads everywhere and will soon rule the earth. I don't think there's a new Irishness. What is it; Hector? The Corrs?

    It's true that the old-fashioned sort of Irish lives in the country, but it's doomed. It makes me very depressed. But I agree with you NM that I still like the notion of Irishness and it doesn't have to have a literal existence. It reminds me of a line from a Clive Barker novel that I've always cherished: "That which is imagined need never be lost".

  32. Fence says:

    Mal you are so negative :)

    Irishness is what you make of it. And there is nothing wrong with the GAA, it is a perfect example of Irishness- so much wrong with the organisation but so great at the same time.

    And don't forget that a lot of the so-called "oirishness" was never actually true, just made up by the English so they could keep the peasants in their place.
    Course they used it in England to keep the peasants there in their place too. So maybe I should say English nobles of Norman decent?

  33. Mal says:

    I don't think there's anything wrong with the GAA; I never got into it myself, but I like it because it's rooted in communities, people get worked up about their local club as much as about their county. I've witnessed this, visiting my aunt in Limerick, and I always loved it. They're supporting teams whose members they actually know. And it hasn't become a commercial bandwagon like soccer and (now) rugby, although how long before it goes the same route?

    No, I was just saying that Irishness isn't creating new institutions and forms, which it would if it was a living culture.

    Actually I TOTALLY disagree about "oirishness"…and "stage-Irishness"…I think those supposed stereotypes were actually a lot truer than people accepted and, to a certain extent, we sneered our past out of existence. We wanted it both ways. Like the way people always mock Dev's comely maidens speech…I see nothing wrong with that speech and would like to live in the society we described. In the great burst of energy for a national revival, in the first three decades of this century, everybody accepted a) that patriotism was essentially backward looking and that b) it rightly cherished the rural life above the urban one. It was when that became an embarassing joke that all that energy and effort was thrown away.

  34. Mal says:

    The Irish novelist Honor Treacy actually wrote (I think this was in the fifties) that she was often criticised for making up stage Irish characters and situations when she had actually drawn them completely from life.

    Oh, I'm not sanctioning total paddywhackery…W.B. Yeats, early in his career, always insisted that his books be bound with any colour other than green and no shamrocks or harps should be on the cover. But I think we became so over-sensitive to it we went the other way.

  35. NineMoons says:

    Being Irish now:
    Bitching about corrupt politicians and expensive tribunals but turning out in our droves to see CJ off.
    Having a scone with butter and jam along with our mid-morning latte.
    Podge and Rodge.
    The popularity of Fair City.
    Our consistent need to own a piece of property despite the insanity of the property market.
    Begging for sunshine, then praying for rain.
    Not going to Mass, except for weddings, funerals and the little one's First Holy.
    Saying hello to people you pass by on the road. But stepping on them if they pass by you in the town.
    Credit card addiction.
    Shopping trips to New York.
    Escaping to another country to get away from Ireland, then moving home to raise the family here and bitching about how the place has changed beyond all recognition.

    And much much more.
    Maybe you should read David McAsshole's Pope's Children and then read a similar pop-soc book about another country. Our sames are only skin-deep but our differences go right to the bone.

  36. Mal says:

    Yeah, but they're only residual differences. Like not going to Mass but going for weddings, funerals etc. You could say the same thing about the English. National characteristics are like acne-scars and birthmarks these days.

    Thinking about this depresses me too much to think about it any more.

    Actually Podge and Rodge and Fair City is the only item on your list about which I can be enthusiastic, even if I've never seen either. We can at least create a fictional Ireland of the imagination now that the real one has been bulldozed over.

    I've just retrieved your Buffy for you, so I can give it to you whenever you want.

  37. Mal says:

    I have read Jeremy Paxman's "The English", which I think is interesting. But more for the light it sheds on history than on contemporary society.

  38. NineMoons says:

    I'm withdrawing from the debate. See Totally!Evil!Willow! for my reason.

  39. Fence says:

    All nationalities are simply made up constructs. But just because they are made up dosn't mean they aren't real.

    What makes someone Irish has to do with the culture they were raised in. At the moment Ireland is undergoing a huge change, and although Breakfast-roll-man may be a popular figure there is nothing to suggest he'll be around for very long ;)

    As for the commerical bandwagon of football (soccer) and rugby, there isn't anything wrong with that in principle. By paying players you ensure that they are able to train to a higher level, and so play better. Of course if you go totally prof. like football then you run the risk of alienating your team from the community, which I don't think has happened in Irish rugby yet, due to the management of the IRFU. All rugby players contract with the IRFU and are then sent to the different provinces. Which enables the IRFU to get them all together for internationals.

    As for missing the old Ireland, would you really want a return to the "priest-ridden" days, with authoritarian clergy and censorship? Or would you prefer pre-famine says of more pagan-christianity and poverty?

    We may be growing more and more similar to the global US-driven culture, but we still have a very Irish culture of our own. An inability to organise, or arrive on time. The ability to talk to anyone about nothing. Our unwillingness to say yes or no to anything. Liking people who can break the certain rules. Cutting people down if they get too "big-headed" for their own good. Laughing at Daniel O'Donnel and Ronan Keating.

    And as for religion, didn't the recent surveys show that although church attendance has dropped off considerably, people still do believe, they're just too lazy, or dislike the "church" to go to mass.

  40. Mal says:

    Of course there were bad things about the past. But, yes, if I could go back in time, I'd probably go back to the forties or fifties. All that stuff about clerical authoritarianism is mostly a myth; I've even heard anti-Church people who lived through those times say so. My current supervisor in work, for instance. There were a few books banned, but anyone could buy them anyway, if they wanted to. Obviously there were some scandalous, scandalous exceptions, like the Magdalen laundaries or perfectly sane people being committed, but most people were not in any way cowed or oppressed by the Church.

    Conformism and censorship (mostly self-censorship) are much stronger now than they ever were in the past. I was speaking to a chap in his fifties (English Paul, NM, if you're out there) who agreed with me that eccentricity and individualism was more permitted in past decades than it is now.

    And I hold to my view that all those residual, trivial things (like begrudgery, punctuality (?), stuff like that) are just hang-overs from the past and are fading rapidly.

    Hmm. I think we had better agree to differ.

  41. NineMoons says:

    Yes, scandalous, scandalous exceptions. But just exceptions. Not widespread or anything. And that whole myth of Church authority. They couldn't have a priest wander into a court and say that a group of children should be taken off their parents and put in an industrial school – and have it happen. They couldn't have illegitimate children whose mothers could provide for them brought up as unloved, ill-fed orphans because their mothers were sexually active outside marriage – that couldn't happen because the local parish priest disapprove. An order of nuns with a remit in childcare could not get away with refusing to share information on precisely why one of their number was put under oath not to have contact with children in future. That couldn't have happened as recently as the 1990s. Priests and brothers known to have physically and sexually abused children in their care couldn't have been moved from childcare centre to childcare centre while the Gardai told complainants that you couldn't bring a prosecution against the religious.
    Oh, wait. All that did happen.
    Have to say that I'm in an unbelievably strong position to make the case that the Church held enormous sway here. You have no idea how much power they had. So much power that it was taken for granted by people who lived through those times – that social morality and church morality were one and the same and enforced collectively. And as for getting banned books – outside Dublin, it was very difficult. Not to mention banned films being virtually impossible to see anywhere.

    And don't even get me started on the Irish courts refusing to overturn the ban on homosexual relations, based primarily on the religious content in our Constitution. Or the difficulty of getting contraception, regardless of your religion. Or the continuing monopoly the church has on marriage law in Ireland.

  42. Mal says:

    Hmmm, not trying to belittle anyone's suffering, and all of what you say is true. But I still think the scale and pervasiveness of church power is greatly, greatly exaggerated. And, as you say, church morality WAS social morality to a great degree, so who's doing the oppression? And homosexuality was almost as proscribed in secular England as in Ireland.

    And don't forget that so many children were educated who wouldn't have been educated otherwise, were it not for the Christian Brothers and their like. And I do think the testament of people who lived through a time shouldn't be disgregarded.

    I still think it was a more civilised society; murders were a sensation for weeks, drugs were unknown, and thug culture had not been born.

    Most of the Bell-type writers competed to get their works censored, as a badge of being sophisticated or intellectual. As for the banned films, if they're as bad as the mediocre pretentious crap in the IFI, well, what's the loss? I say bring some of that censorship back. Would you have got reality TV shows on RTE in the fifties? I don't think so.

  43. Mal says:

    Anyway, I'm not arguing that the church didn't have too much institutional and legal influence. I was disputing their social influence, which I think is exaggerated. The two overlap but are not the same.

  44. NineMoons says:

    Not wishing to harp too much on the industrial schools racket, but the CBs et al were paid by the Department of Education to educate people. And my information IS based on the testaments of people who lived through that time. The people who were outside of that civilised society, who lived in a world where violence against young children was the norm, sexual abuse of varying degrees of severity pretty common and emotional abuse was an everyday occurrance.
    As for censorship of films – many films were banned for showing violence or sex or violent sex – a Clockwork Orange was banned until relatively recently, as was Natural Born Killers and Baise-Moi. But the far more insidious censorship was the cutting or editing of films so that the early Irish audience never saw the intended version of Angels with Dirty Faces (where the incredibly important and moving scene where the priest tells the children that their gangster hero Jimmy Cagney went to the chair yellow was cut because a priest couldn't be shown to lie!), Casablanca (because Ilsa's love affair with Rick in Paris occurred while she was still married – even though she believed herself to be a widow!) Singin' in the Rain was edited because of the eroticism of some of its dance sequences, the Song of Bernadette was cut in spite of being a overwhelmingly positively religious film (reference to scholars questioning the Immaculate Conception) and even the Quiet Man lost two lines referring to marital intimacy – both relating to to Sean Thornton's big double bed.
    And the Board of the Film Censor had to have a representative from the CofI and the Catholic church on it.

  45. NineMoons says:

    PS – meant to tell you earlier – you have some spam on your site! Better get rid. :-)

  46. Mal says:

    I'm not doubting the truth of what you say…I was being nostalgic for an earlier time, the forties and fifties, and I'm not even denying that there were fundamental things wrong with that society, too.

    I haven't seen A Clockwork Orange, but the book was a load of crap. I think the Hayes code had a lot going for it, especially the insistence that crime could not be seen to pay. We wouldn't have all the vulgar glamorisation of crime, like Goodfellas and every gangster movie ever made. Of course, the rules should be suspended for important movies making serious points…

    And Singin' in the Rain is a filthy, degrading film. Next you'll be saying the Passion of Saint Tibulus shouldn't have been banned.

    Father Ted (remembering Father Jack): First priest to denounce the Beatles.
    Father Dougal: He could see what they were up to.

    Anyway, I'm right, jinx, no come-backs, ha ha ha!

    I keep removing spam from my site but it just keeps coming back. It's like plankton or something.

  47. Fence says:

    I'm going to assume that you are joking about bringing censorship back; asd far as I'm concerned there should be no censorship at all for adults. I have no problem with the classification system used for films, and it should be enforced more strictly than it is.

    Church morality became social morality in the aftermath of the famine when Irish society came close to breaking due to the population movement and death. Prior to the 1800's catholicism didn't hold half as much sway.

    And as a person who is usually punctual, I can tell you that irish people are never on time, I'm the exception proving the rule. I don't really mind, and perhaps it is a little different in Dublin, but overall everything in Ireland starts at least 5 minutes after it should.

  48. Mal says:

    I'm very punctual and not unpunctuality MADDENS me.

    I'm only half-joking about censorship; I think when there was more censorship, it fostered a certain restraint which had desirable artistic as well as moral repercussions. Film-makers were forced to use their imaginations. Also I think gratuitous blasphemy towards any religion should be discouraged. Does any body really have a burning need to see the Driller-Killer? Then again, let them if they want to, I suppose.

    Having said that, I enjoyed The Devil's Rejects, which could be the sickest film I've ever seen, but it was clever and well-made, so there you go.

    I'm not a big fan of the Catholic church, you know; I just think they get unfairly maligned sometimes.

    By the way, I am taking holidays next week and thinking of going down to Sligo for a day or so. And then somewhere else for a day or so, Kerry maybe. I like the train journey as much as anything else.

  49. NineMoons says:

    I am a big fan of the Catholic church but I'm still not a fan of any religion having that amount of sway over people's lives.

    As regards censorship – fair enough for the under-18s – society needs to protect its children and people can watch a lot of stuff if their parents allow it – but I hold with Oscar Wilde – that there is no such thing as an immoral or moral book (or film or whatever) – they are either well-written or badly written. The Hays Code was constantly circumvented anyway. People get around censorship like that. Any intelligent person watching two people kissing on a couch before cutting to shots of fireworks knows that they're gettin' it on, even if they don't see a play-by-play account of it.

    Maybe Fence could help you get better spam protection.

    Delighted to hear you're going to Sligeach. Go down in the morning and come back the following evening. There are lots of B&Bs and hotels and stuff. If you need any advice, email me or Fence. Give Galway a bash as well. You could even go by bus from Sligo and come back to Dublin from there. A round trip!