Tag Archives: RTÉ

Wastepaper Basket Part I: Sunday Miscellany: A Tribute/Parody

[somnolent horns in a regal manner for about fifteen seconds. it dissolves into asynchronous and discordant cataclysm]

Woman’s Voice: Time now for Sunday Salmagundi, a showcase of the finest prose, poetry and essays currently on offer in the land of saints and of scholars.

Second Woman’s Voice: (Speaks plodding, primly) I have always found myself to be spurred by a deep and profound love for the invasive species of the wild boar, sosis scrofula, a recent visitation on this little island in the middle of the Atlantic that we, and now happily, the boar, call home.

I can still remember the first time I made the acquaintance of this noble animal in my back garden. It was a gorgeous summer’s day and my dear husband was just getting ready to attend to the pesky weeds that had sprung up in our garden.   

—Won’t be a mo, he said merrily, already donning his thick gardening gloves, packing his trusty trowel into his sturdy steel bucket with a noisy clang. 

I watched him pulling the weeds up by their roots from the kitchen window, while washing the dishes left over from breakfast. They were the fine bone china plates that my grandmother left me, when she passed away so tragically, only the year before last. I looked at the beautiful patterns that ran along their outsides, made of little Celtic Crosses weaving in and out of themselves, like a mysterious tapestry from long ago. When I see them, I think of the big mahogany cabinet my granny kept them in when I was a little girl, and how big it seemed to me at the time, looming far above my head when I visited her with my mummy and daddy. I didn’t know then how fast the years would pass me by. I can still remember the hazy morning sunlight slanting through the cabinet’s glass door, making the plates shimmer like virtual reality.

I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I didn’t see the boar step out inquisitively from the hedge on my husband’s side, and gear up to charge at him. The first thing I noticed about our little visitor was how quickly he moved, his feet were like little brown rockets, a far cry from the stubby little implements that you’d mistake them for at your peril. His shiny white tusks aren’t just for show either though, as my husband found out when the little fella dug an eight centimetre hole in his thigh.

-Ah! Ah! Jesus, Cathleen! Ahh, Christ, my husband said, struggling to his feet. With his injury, he was finding it difficult to move quickly and ward off the animal at the same time. A big red wound was clearly visible, as the boar had inconsiderately torn my husband’s pair of jeans. The wound was a deep passionate crimson colour, like the first rose of summer.

I could see the boar was locking onto him to make another charge. I tapped at the window angrily to ward him off.

—Cathleen! Cathleen! Jesus, help, oh god, ah,  he said.

Just as the boar was about to make a run and gore my husband’s leg for a second time, he stopped and looked up at me through the window. His eyes looked into mine, and I had then a strange moment of sympathy and understanding with him. Even though we were from different worlds, and the boar was unlikely to have a memory like the ones that filled my head up to the brim like those of my granny’s china cabinet, were we really all that different? It was almost as if we knew each other well, that we were old friends from our school days. 

The boar then took a run and smashed himself into my husband’s ankle, knocking him to the ground.

—Ohohohogggohrbna, he said.

The boar then beat

his retreat

so I watched him depart

with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

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Patrick Kavanagh: London Poet?

000651cf-1500I’ve never ranked Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry very highly, ‘The Great Hunger’ aside. If I had to generate a fancy reason for why, rather than the simplistic sounding, ‘I don’t like this,’ it would be my consciousness of his biography, as I find him far more engaging as a representative of his era, than as a poet.

If you’ve never read Pat Walsh’s book Patrick Kavanagh and the Leader, for example, do, it gives a thorough account of future Taoiseach John A. Costello’s intensive cross-examination of the poet when he sued the Dublin publication, The Leader, for libelling him. The courtroom drama is begging to be adapted from the page after page of snappy, witty dialogue, with the poet and future Taoiseach arguing over where the irony in a particular line in Shelley resides. Yes, really, they debate this at length. Kavanagh gives as good as he gets I think, and it’s no wonder there were queues outside the courts for the days and days that the trial ran on for.

Notions of Ireland’s cultural stagnancy in the forties and fifties are being rolled back at this point, but there is something bleak that persists about Kavanagh’s generation, himself and Flann O’Brien sitting in Dublin pubs rife with backbiters and destined for varying shades of obscurity and penury.

The RTÉ documentary below complicates the picture we have of Kavanagh quite a bit, giving a detailed account of the years he spent in London, enmeshed in its cultural and artistic scene, which all seems quite a bit more vital and indeed, enjoyable for Kavanagh than his years spent in Dublin. There is a suggestion in the documentary that there are those who prefer Kavanagh in his current state, as a peasant, Dublin-canal poet, but whatever side you fall on interpretively, I think the consciousness of Kavanagh as more metropolitan than most people are aware, can only ameliorate, rather than diminish his reputation.

Listen also for Flann O’Brien’s advice for what to do if an author you’ve never read comes up in conversation.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2015/0107/670862-fleeting-city-the-london-years-of-patrick-kavanagh/

The Irish Woman Who Shot Mussolini

Only recently heard about Violet Gibson, an upper-middle class anti-fascist who tried to shoot Il Duce after he had taken power. This radio documentary gives interesting details on the broader European complicity in his taking power, including Ireland.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2014/0612/647669-documentary-irishwoman-shot-mussolini-violet-gibson/

Lucia Joyce Radio Documentary

Plenty I wasn’t aware of regarding Lucia Joyce’s life laid out in this documentary. Lucia’s involvement  in bohemian Paris, how her psychosis may have been barbiturate withdrawal, and how Joyce was her primary advocate for Lucia’s welfare in the family. Lucia’s strained relationship with Nora and Giorgio meant she was to become isolated after his death in 1939.

Has a nice reading from Finnegans Wake also, but not, sadly, her novel, which was destroyed, and I mourn for.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2013/0604/647434-radio-documentary-podcast-lucia-james-joyce-bloomsday/

Roger Casement RTÉ Documentary

There was always a Roger Casement-shaped hole in my understanding of modern Irish history, I had never really grasped his significance, or knew why he was cited so often in the decade of centenaries when he wasn’t a signatory of the Proclamation, but this documentary helped me get up to speed, outlining the time he spent in the Congo, and how he may have served to influence Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2016/0318/775719-roger-casements-apocalypse-now-africa-1916/

Elizabeth Bowen RTÉ Documentary

Really, really entertaining and informative documentary about the novelist Elizabeth Bowen, what Virginia Woolf made of Bowen’s gaff and Bowen’s extra-marital affairs. Most worth it, I think, for the details given of Bowen’s spying for the English. Her accounts of key Irish figures of the time are less bureaucratic and informative than one might expect; they more closely resemble the forensic character sketches that one encounters in her fiction.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2015/1030/738444-the-brits-the-blitz-and-the-bedwarmer/

RTÉ Lady Gregory Documentary

Good RTÉ Documentary about how Lady Gregory became one of the central figures in the literati of early twentieth-century Dublin.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2013/0826/647502-documentary-podcast-lady-gregory-tree-coole-irish-literary-revival/