Those in the know will rightly credit Alan Partridge with the title of this post, a suggested tagline for the doomed TV comeback of Norwich’s premier broadcaster, which he intended to come ‘live from the Blarney Stone’. To be honest, though, there’s a veritable Partridge-esque upsurge of ‘Oirish’ clichés in England today – you can’t pass a pub or a supermarket without being bombarded by images of shamrocks or leprechauns; were I Irish myself (and there’s probably a bit in me somewhere, belonging as I do to these islands’ mongrel breed) I think I’d be a tad annoyed; at what point did an Irish festival become one more marketing opportunity for the British retail sector ala Christmas, Easter and Halloween? Somehow, I can’t imagine the streets of Dublin on St George’s Day are crammed with stout yeoman clad in Union Jack waistcoats, yet the plotlines of English soap operas from Walford to Weatherfield will no doubt be marking St Patrick’s Day.

I’m not planning to jump on the emerald bandwagon today, but as it’s been a long week with a lot of posts, I figured it was the easiest/laziest option to issue a list. As an alternative to the glut of stereotypical tat decorating your local neighbourhood O’Neill’s, I thought I’d recite some Irish names that I’d rather figured on a day such as today than the aforementioned clichés. In the interests of harmony, I include both sides of the island, and to avoid any accusations of ‘cultural appropriation’, you might be relieved to hear I don’t particularly care for Guinness.

When it comes to the Arts, Ireland has produced an impressive roster of writers, playwrights, poets and musicians over the years. Many had their artistic fingers in more than one pie, though if we stick to dramatists for the moment, we could name the likes of Oliver Goldsmith in the eighteenth century, Richard Brinsley Sheridan (who had a foot in both the eighteenth and nineteenth), Oscar Wilde in the nineteenth, and two cultural giants who crossed over into the twentieth – George Bernard Shaw and Sean O’Casey. Like his illustrious predecessors, a notable twentieth century name such as Samuel Beckett was a dramatist who didn’t reserve his entire oeuvre for the theatre. What is especially fascinating about so many Irish artists is how their artistry covers so many different fields, and Ireland has unleashed a remarkable number of genuine Renaissance Men.

That colossus of seventeenth and eighteenth century satire, Jonathan Swift, was a true polymath – still chiefly remembered by the wider public for ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, Swift was also an essayist, political pamphleteer and a poet. Beckett was also a poet, as well as a novelist; Yeats probably had ‘poet’ stamped on his passport, though he dabbled with drama as well; Joyce’s major artistic contribution was to the novel and short story, though he was also a poet; Wilde’s reputation was built on his plays, yet he produced the iconic novel, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, the celebrated children’s stories published as ‘The Happy Prince and Other Tales’, the poem ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ and the lengthy letter, ‘De Profundis’.

Poetry seems particularly suited to the way Irish artists can paint pictures with words, with just a small few of the most celebrated poets being the obligatory WB Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney, Cecil Day-Lewis, and far too many others to mention. But there is a poetic rhythm to much of the prose that has illuminated Irish literature, and novelists have served to put Ireland on the literary map as much as its poets. I mean, where does one start? The aforementioned Swift, Laurence Stern, Bram Stoker, Liam O’Flaherty, CS Lewis (born in Belfast), Iris Murdoch, Brian Moore, Edna O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, Patrick McCabe, Roddy Doyle…the list often seems bloody endless, to be honest – so we’d best move on.

Music has always mattered either as an artistic pursuit or simple entertainment in Ireland, though if we put ‘traditional’ Irish music to one side and glance back over the last fifty years of popular music’s ascendancy, Irish names figure quite highly. The first true Irish rock band to make an impact were Belfast’s Them during the Beat Boom of the early 60s, and they were led, of course, by Van Morrison, whose subsequent solo career eclipsed anything he achieved with his original bandmates. Many Irish musicians struggled to emerge from the shadow of the ‘Show Bands’, but in the early 70s Rory Gallagher was certainly a top live draw on the rock circuit and a critically acclaimed recording artist, though in terms of Irish exports he was usurped by the mighty Thin Lizzy and their roguish romantic leader, the late great Phil Lynott.

While singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan was the mainstream face of Irish pop in the early-to-mid-70s, the Punk era certainly produced its fair share of significant bands, from The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers to the far bigger commercial monster that was The Boomtown Rats. The late 70s also saw the arrival of a band that would go onto become not just the most successful Irish rock band of all time, but one of rock’s greatest successes full stop, U2. And after U2 came The Pogues, Sinead O’Connor, Enya, My Bloody Valentine, The Divine Comedy and all those bloody boy-bands. But having skimmed across the surface of Irish music, let’s move on to the Eurovision Song Contest.

Ireland have won the Eurovision on seven separate occasions, beginning with Dana’s ode to ‘All Kinds of Everything’ in 1970 and including two triumphs for Johnny Logan and three successive victories in the 90s. The financial strain of staging the Eurovision in Ireland year-after-year inspired the classic episode of ‘Father Ted’ in which Ted and Dougall’s terrible entry is picked to represent the nation because there’s no way it can win. For many in the UK, ‘Father Ted’ is not just the greatest work of comedy genius (other than Dave Allen) that Ireland has ever produced, but it is up there with the best sitcoms of all time. Let’s not mention ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’.

And what (I hear you ask) of actors and directors, of great inventors, of politicians and sportsmen and women? How can you not mention George Best or Alex Higgins? There, I just did. Well, I’ve only got so much space, after all – though I won’t go without honourable mention of two people you’ve never heard of called John and Noeleen Doyle; they were a couple who knocked about with my grandparents when I was a child, whose house I sometimes stopped at and whose children I sometimes played with; and because of them I still can’t hear an Ulster accent without slipping into a warm bath of aural nostalgia. Anyway, considering I’m an Englishman, it’s hard not to marvel at the sheer volume of greats that have emanated from that little landmass, and long may it continue.

© The Editor



      1. Mulligan & O’Hare is basically a gentle spoof of Irish ballad singing groups like Foster and Allen…with Reeves & Mortimers’ surrealistic take added.

        Did you watch the Ding Dong one? The man behind the persona, Paul Woodfull, was also responsible for the U2 spoof ‘The Joshua Trio’ which also featured a young Arthur Mathews…later co-creator of the aforementioned Father Ted!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Speaking of Steve Coogan, I have a theory that the Alan Partridge charater was influenced (perhaps subconsciously) by Pat ‘The Plank’ Kenny (remember that spent summer holidays in Ireland as a child and presumably would have been somewhat familiar with Irish television and radio programmes).

        A comedian spoofs Pat:

        The real Pat, tearing up a prize-winner’s ticker on live tv when she made clear she wasn’t that bothered about winning:

        Ungrateful viewers! GRRR! You showed them, Pat!

        I couldn’t find it on Youtube, but there was also a segment when he insulted Dawn French about her weight at some awards ceremony. Peak Partridge!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Is he impersonating Gay Byrne on the first clip? I didn’t have room to include all the Irish broadcasters who enjoyed long careers in Britain – I suppose the obvious ones being Wogan and Eammon Andrews.


      4. No, it’s Pat Kenny he’s impersonating. Kenny took over from Gay Byrne as Late Late Show presenter in 1998. Kenny is well-known in Ireland as a tv and radio presenter/host since the early 1980s.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. On Ireland’s Eurovision winning songs, I thought both Johnny Logan’s efforts were pretty good, but my personal favourite was probably this charming little ditty:

      1994 was the same year as Riverdance, probably the most memorable Eurovision interval act ever.

      I chanced on Harrington & McGettigan doing a free gig in a nightclub some time in the late nineties. Which just goes to show that winning the Eurovision is not necessarily a guarantee of everlasting fame and fortune….although doing the interval act apparently can be (Michael Flatley is now a multi-millionaire).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually admit I have a bit of a soft spot for ‘All Kinds of Everything’, though the hit Dana had the following year, ‘Who Put The Lights Out’ (penned by Paul Ryan, Barry’s brother), was a genuinely great (and stlightly eerie) pop record.


      2. I’m not familiar with that second song you mention nor with Barry (or Paul) Ryan’s stuff tbh.

        Dana incidentally latterly re-invented herself as a politician of the ‘Christian Conservative’ type. She ran for the Irish presidency (which is an elected office, but a largely ceremonial role) in 2011 but her campaign foundered after claims that the media were attempting to politically assassinate her with claims relating to a family member (though, frankly, I don’t think she ever had a chance of winning, particularly given she didn’t seem to be aware of the basic constitutional powers of the role).


  1. Others how deserve inclusion in this pantheon of fame, particularly in Humorous Avenue

    Connor Cruise O’Brien is a must, if for no other reason than for his put down of the, as then, Manchester Guardian, a one liner that should have been prescribed reading for the entire populace from the 1960s to date.. “The Guardian is in the amiable habit of saying that the world would be much improved if it were other than it is”

    And of course, there is much inspiration to be had from their building industry, such as example of the workman inspired to jump from the, under construction, multi storey after his foreman recounted during the tea break, how he had flown in Wellingtons during the war

    Milo O’Shea is worth an honorable mention, if for no other reason than his inspiration of Duran Duran by his dementedly playing Jane Fonda’s organ in Barbarella

    And of course, how could you miss out this wonderful gentleman?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. “And of course, there is much inspiration to be had from their building industry, such as example of the workman inspired to jump from the, under construction, multi storey after his foreman recounted during the tea break, how he had flown in Wellingtons during the war.”

      So funny I forgot to laugh! What next, jokes about the Jews and their money grabbing ways?


      1. No, just crap like this….

        ‘As long as she can get to play Mel Gibson in drag, the sacrifice is justified.’


      2. @Ho Hum

        Ah, sorry, you were actually taking a pop at Petunia?

        Bit slow on the uptake there!

        When I look at photos of Nicola Sturgeon, I always think she is wearing a helmet. Incidentally, I watched her speech to the Irish Senate recently on youtube,,,and espied a former school and uni classmate of mine in the viewing audience – he is now a senator…Ireland really is scarily small at times.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. My seriously abject apologies!!! I mistook tdf for you!

        I really am so so sorry!

        How far down, and how much, do I need to grovel?


        Liked by 1 person

      4. @ tdf

        If y’d bin a teuchter far as lang as ah hid, he widnae bither afa’ much aboot fit ithirs call’ y’. Bit it maks yin a wee bit insinsitive tae foo t’ rest o’ t’ wirld sees themsel’s

        Sae if th’ pin strppit donkey jack’t disnae dae it fir ye, ah’m afa’ sorrie




      5. Ok so according to Google ‘a Teuchter’ is a word for a Scottish Highlander which can be seen as offensive but is often seen as amusing depending on context….a new one on me I must admit. I am no scholar of Gaelic…either the Irish or Scots versions….me being a Dublin ‘jackeen’ (an old word for Dubliners, who being inhabitants of ‘the Pale’ were seen by Irish nationalists as more likely to pledge their allegiance to the Union Jack).


      6. Interesting term – and admission!

        I’m probably the Scots equivalent of your ‘jackeen’.

        Spent more than half my life south of the border and, if they’d let me (a sore point that!) I’d vote for the Union every day of the week…

        So, in practical terms, I’m probably not welcome on either side of the border.

        But, if independence ever comes, I’ll get my passport and apply for a job at the border. I have a long list of Scots that I’d be happy to prevent getting out, given the damage they could inflict on the innocents in the rest of the world.



      7. @Ho Hum

        In Ireland, or at least in Eire, we are force fed the Irish language at school for 12 years (it is a compulsory subject at both primary and secondary school), even though it is almost never used in day-to-day life.

        So why are we force fed a language that no-one uses, you might well ask? One thinks of influence of ‘the ghosts and weeping effigies’ of The Pogues’ lament about emigration ‘Thousands are Sailing’.

        Shane McGowan was born and educated in London. His band’s best song (in my view) was penned, not by McGowan, but by the late Phillip Chevron…who was born and lived most of his life in Ireland…but hated the influence of the RCC. Shane McGowan, talented as he undoubtedly is, is arguably an example of the ‘Plastic Paddy’ type.

        My point is that it is not, or should not be, surprising that most Irish people (and not just most Jackeens) are far from fluent in Irish.


      8. ‘My point is that it is not, or should not be, surprising that most Irish people (and not just most Jackeens) are far from fluent in Irish’

        Fine, although I have to say that when one goes north of Gretna Green, it sometimes feels as if many Scots are fluent in neither Gaelic nor English



    2. Ah, the one-armed waiter from ‘Robin’s Nest’! As for the building trade, I could’ve included the Irish Navvies of the 18th/19th century, I suppose. Somebody once called them the men who built Britain, which is a fair assessment, especially when so many of their constructions still stand.


  2. Incidentally, half of My Bloody Valentine (the original line-up) are British, as are half of U2.

    On the other hand, one could make a claim for The Smiths for Ireland as seven of the four band members’ eight grandparents were born in Ireland. As for the Gallagher brothers, you can keep them. No, please, keep them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As for ‘Barbarella’…here’s a trivia question, pop-pickers….on which other sci-fi flick from the same era did get this British/Irish man, subsequently very successful in the music industry, get his first job, as a film technician?


      1. No! Not even warm I’m afraid.

        Here’s a hint. The lead in the movie was played by a very well-known veteran Scottish actor who has also been associated with the Scottish independence movement.


      1. I assume DG is David Gilmour and PF is Pink Floyd?

        In any case, no, sorry, wrong.

        Bear in mind I said successful in the music industry…not necessarily as a musician.


      2. Correct, it is Zardoz. Paul McGuinness started his career as a production technician on that movie’s set. He later decided to take up the role of manager of the infant band U2. The rest as they say is history….the reason I say he is ‘British-Irish’ is that he was born in Britain…son of an RAF man…so if we include McGuinness as a defacto fifth member arguably U2 are 60% British!


      3. Yes, the Edge was born in England, though both his parents are Welsh. They moved to Dublin when Edge was quite young.

        Adam Clayton was also born in England, so this is why I am saying it could be argued that U2 are 60% British.


  4. Another trivia question, pop-pickers. 🙂

    Which Irish-born musician was a key member of a well known Britpop band? Though he later fell out with the band leader, they have since reconciled and have recorded new music. Name the musician and the band.


      1. Ash were Irish, weren’t they? Not sure if they count as an ‘official’ Britpop band, though. The ‘big five’, I suppose, were Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Suede and Supergrass. Aside from aforementioned Irish ancestry re the Gallaghers, I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.


    1. Feel free to add to the list! The problem with writing a post like this is what the writer imagines will be a quick and easy list takes twice as long because names keep coming up every time you think you’ve finished it.


      1. I’ll not be adding to it – just about to depart these shores to visit a little property and sample a little heat a couple of thousand miles away from this happy blog-land. I’ll be back . . . so play nicely.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Next question, pop pickers!

    Which well-known female English singer was of partially Irish parentage (Irish mother)? She recently was quoted in the media, quotes which gave rise to a minor controversy among the ‘permanently outraged’ brigade.


    1. ^ I didn’t know that about Beckett, but it is not surprising to me that he played cricket.

      Sam Beckett grew up in a very nice house in a suburb of Dublin that even back then was relatively posh and these days is considered an ultra-wealthy enclave.

      Cricket became very unpopular in Ireland after independence, because it was seen as a sport for the ‘English invader;, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years. Personally I’ve never understood the rules. At school we played something called ’rounders’, which I pretty much hated.


  6. In my dreams
    I was drowning my sorrows
    Then my sorrows they learned how to swim
    Surrounding me
    Going down on me
    Spilling over the brim


  7. Keenly awaiting the Paddy’s Day 2018 blog.

    You’d better produce one too, otherwise I’d have to track you down and give you a good talking to (to wit, to who!)

    And that wouldn’t be good, as nights on the beer with myself haven’t always produced necessarily good outcomes. 🙂


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