Thursday, March 06, 2008

An Irishman's tart is his imagination

An Irish bar in New York has banned Danny Boy for St Patrick's day.

It's depressing, it's not usually sung in Ireland for St. Patrick's Day, and its lyrics were written by an Englishman who never set foot on Irish soil.

God forbid that maudlin sentimentality should ever intrude on the drinking habits of New York's Irish diaspora. He should consider, though, that if he's going to exclude things that originated on the other side of the Irish and British sea, he is going to run into problems with the whole concept of St Patrick's day.

No bad thing, in my view, the whole thing now smacks of a drinks marketing celebration of enforced jollity and plastic Paddy-whackery and is followed - every March 18 - with a mini-moral panic in the media about drunken, disorderly youths. I'm with the people of Dripsey in Co Cork, who host the world's shortest St Patrick's day parade every year.

The AP report, incidentally, does nothing to downplay stereotypes of Irishness.

The song is "all right, but I get fed up with hearing it — it's like the elections," Martin Gaffney, 73, said in a thick Irish brogue.

Gaffney said Wednesday he looked forward to crooning his own Irish favorites, such as "Molly Malone" — whose own theme is hardly a barrel of laughs.

A sort of unofficial anthem of Dublin also known as "Cockles and Mussels," the song tells the tale of a beautiful fishmonger who plies her trade on city streets and dies young of a fever.

There is an argument that Molly Malone was itself written by a Scotsman, and that Molly herself was probably a street prostitute, who used the whelk stall as a cover for her real trade, possibly conducted near that well known hotbed of debauchery, Trinity College. (There's an echo of that in the name given to her statue in Dublin, The Tart with the Cart, which is not to be confused with The Floozie in the Jacuzzi). Given that in the later part of the 19th century, Monto in north Dublin was Europe's largest red light district (and by the standards of the time that was saying something) she seems the ideal figure to commemorate the city's millennium.

It's not clear what Molly did to so distinguish herself from her peers. A pity really, as it would make for a better song.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

Next thing you know, maudlin songs will have to have government-approved symbols stating how many units of sentimentality they contain.

3:19 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Ha, ha. I can see it now. "An end to the binge whinging culture."

3:24 pm  
Blogger dominic said...

Ah, yes, it's almost that time of year where I can, for the first time in ages, thank fuck that I don't live in Kilburn*


(*or Hampstead, if yer a posh english or european bird that I'm trying to impress)

11:01 pm  

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