Jude Collins

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Au contraire, Mary

I was listening to Mary Kenny the other day and found myself thinking of my father. He used to tell us about the wakes they had in West Tyrone and East Donegal when he was a young man. They were social occasions, full of story-telling and laughter, and even games. One of these games involved balancing sods of turf on the edge of kitchen chairs; but sometimes the participants would get so involved and excited, sods would go flying across the room and occasionly bounce off the corpse laid out in the corner.

All this came back when I heard Mary comment on the developing plans for having Queen Elizabeth pay a formal state visit to the twenty-six counties. Mary was eloquent about the interest and affection the Irish people have for the House of Windsor, and spoke of how they flock onto the streets to cheer when a member of that family visits Ireland. She was convinced this would be the case in the twenty-six counties if Queen Elizabeth flew in and that it would be the final capping-stone on good relations between Ireland and England after centuries of conflict.

I think it’s time someone took Mary’s hand and broke the news that there’s a corpse in the corner... Well no, actually, not a corpse. It could be mistaken for one but it’s actually a living body in bad shape. Efforts have been made to cut it in two, to pretend that parts of it don’t exist, and that it has the most cordial feelings for those who have inflicted this damage. And it'd also be good if the hand-holder could explain to Mary that while only a curmudgeon would want to stop people from cheering and feeling good, it’s really a self-inflicted con-trick to pretend that the Irish Question is now solved and that a divided country with 5,000 heavily-armed gunmen keeping it that way is a natural or desirable or permanent state.

A word in your refined little ear, Mary. Put away the turf-sods and go take a long look at the figure stretched out in the corner.

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