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Happy St. Patrick's Day

By Alan Hindle

Friday March 14, 2008

Ireland today is so self-confident in its 2008 Eurovision Song Contest entry that the whole thing is being performed by a turkey. Furthermore, as Eurovision now ignites more national pride in the countries involved than the Olympics, if Dustin the Turkey wins he will also be the world’s greatest athlete. And you should see him dance!

The Ireland of the classic novel The Poor Mouth is long gong, swallyed up be the Celtic Tiger, and except for a few nostalgic old men blinking through their Guinness, it’s unlikely many mourn its passing. The Emerald Isle has become cosmopolitan, an international brand name for itself, and the overwhelming proof is St. Patrick’s Day/Week/Month. Suddenly everybody declares themselves Irish, digs some greenery out of the closet and gets drunk. It’s a sweet if slightly backhanded compliment, a slap in the face with a pretty bouquet of posies and shamrocks, but when folk think Ireland they think only booze and music. If only there was more music going on.

You can spend a week in Cork looking for traditional Irish music­— everywhere it’s C/W, O’Hip Hop, and both kinds of rock, Yacht and Scandinavian Metal. The nearest I found to “traditional” melodies was in a pub in Yawl advertising “old fashioned Laments”. A man made of straw and whiskey met me at the door, asked my name, and in a shaky scrawl autographed a photocopied picture of himself and Gregory Peck during the 1957 filming of Moby Dick. Jimmy then asked if I’d care to buy him a pint. I bought him two, so he signed another 8X10. The Lamenting started, essentially a swaying dirge of naming every decent person dead since the potato was invented, and I fled back to Cork for an evening of Garth Brooks impersonators and square dancing.

It’s more insulting to expect a country’s music remain a quaint relic for tourists. There are brilliant bands coming out Ireland, occasionally engaging in the lilting and whirling rhythms of their history but finding new ways to bang it out. Punks with penny whistles. More in keeping with the spirit of Dustin the Turkey, however, here’s Only suggestion for Ireland’s Eurovision 2008 submission. You can’t see their feet, but trust us, they are giving Michael Flatley hot flashes of green envy.