Thursday, July 8, 2010

The fallen knight at the King's tournament

Celebapalooza 2010 featuring The Limerick Leader continued this week with some maniacal golf, sunburnt colour writers and free chicken casserole at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Adare. The Board's take on it all centred on The Playboy of the Western World, Tiger Woods. From this week's Leader2:

Lines of thousands ran up and down along the contours of the first fairway, waiting. The valley between the tee and the practice green was a sea of bodies, and the current was dragging them all towards one person. Tiger Woods, in Limerick? After all that mess? 40,000 people and the novelty wasn’t lost on any of them.

Early on Monday afternoon, as the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor gathered steam, John Daly was lit up like a traffic light and Jim Furyk was scooching under the blue ropes that held the crowd back. Ben Curtis, the 2003 Open champion, was beating up the driving range. But none of it seemed to matter.

Over Curtis’ shoulder the most famous sportsman of all time languidly chopped through a bucket of practice balls, the baying local crowd in thrall. Just seven months since all the unpleasantness, Tiger Woods was making good on his commitment to Adare, to Limerick and to JP. Is he a phenomenon? Or a sociopath? Different questions for other places.

Over two days the people of Limerick were drawn to him like a magnet and nobody asked about the morals. They didn’t need to. This week was about how the golfing world, led by its most bankable deity, had gathered for the rarest of chin wags by the River Maigue, and how it had done so at the behest of McManus.

Though quiet and unassuming in person, every five years JP comes to embody a medieval lord drawing the greatest knights in the world to an immense tournament, where he delivers his largesse through great feasts and spectacular games.

Adare Manor may embody modern comfort and luxury, but in truth it could just as easily be a feudal Ressons-sur-Matz or Lagny-sur-Marne, where men jousted and were merry. Foremost among today’s heroes was Woods, who found nothing but adoration from the people of Limerick during his first overseas competition since the scandals of his private life last year.

Back at the driving range, some twenty minutes before he is due to tee off from the first, the crowd are sucked in. Boys hand out programmes and hats indiscriminately for autographs, not seeming to care who does the scribbling. “Who was that?”, “Who is he?”, two wonder aloud to each other. They shoot first and ask questions later.

A short while beforehand Eamon Dunphy, caddying for Liam Brady for the morning, crowed about how he was in fact a “mind coach” who was only on the sauce the night before “so that Liam wouldn’t be”.

Then the word filters up. Stewards and gardai link arms instantly, as if instructed to by a hive mind. The Tiger moves up towards the clubhouse, running a gauntlet of wires and giggles. He is bombarded with questions by a media ruck that only walked as fast as he did. But the man as tough as mineral looked straight past it all with an effortless cool.

He ignores every question bar one, about new AT&T National champion Justin Rose who appears seconds later, as famous people tended to do in Adare this week, to receive a congratulatory smile and handshake.

From the edge of the practice green Tiger sinks a casual putt between chatter with Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington as someone, somewhere worries that world’s richest ever athlete is cutting it awfully fine.

His fellow pros are immune to his aura, but clearly the local masses are not. His walk from there to the first tee, through the crowded ocean, teaches much about the dictum of Tiger. When he approaches, you clap. When he smiles, you cheer. When he swings, you roar. They are sensory reactions programmed deep into the brain. It is a set of rules all his own.

As he killed time at the first tee, waiting for the gun blast that will signal the start of play at 1.30pm, the playful anxiety of the crowd builds. Photographers and stewards who creep into someone’s line of sight are barracked by spectators for daring to block their view of Him. Mark O’Meara, his old compatriot, ambles up from Tiger’s left and cracks a joke. “Can I have an autograph?” he asks. “No”, comes the reply.

Then, in that calm way of his, JP strolls over in a sharp navy suit and open necked blue shirt. He plucks a bottle of Ballygowan from a nearby drum and joins the talk. There is no grand introduction; the conversation just quietly opens up and lets him in. We’re all friends here. Mark places an arm around their host and leaves it there.

Tiger loosens up with a practice swing, and then another, before launching his tee shot onto the first fairway. A caravan of five gardai, reporters and cameras with lenses so telescopically big that they need to be beaten into the ground on tripods follow him down the fairway. The rest of the world shuffles along behind the barriers.

Tiger is relaxed, chewing fistfuls of crunchy almonds as he chats with his team mates JP Magnier, Bernard Droux and Brendan Mullin. He shanks his tee shot on the second down to the water’s edge along the left of the fairway. As photographers line up 50 yards ahead, directly in front, he remarks that “that’s a bad spot to be in guys”. He’s joking.

The day’s uniquely playful atmosphere is seen throughout the sprawling hive of Adare Manor. Harry Redknapp, who is clearly in a hurry, still doesn’t turn down a single photo or autograph from the crowd that swallows him as he crosses over towards the 10th fairway.

Peter Jones, he of Dragons’ Den fame, and Jamie Redknapp swap gourmet hotdogs from right hand to left as they sign autographs, walk towards the 11th tee and chew respectively.

Samuel L Jackson, probably the coolest man on the planet, does a shimmy and fist-bump with Johnny Murtagh after the jockey drops a ten footer to par the 16th. Two young women, whose house backs onto the 12th hole, almost pass out with excitement as Hugh Grant obliges them with a photo as he winds down on the back nine. Everywhere you turn, someone important is doing their best not to be. It is the theme of the Pro-Am and it is the wish of its host.

On the seventh hole of six-hour opening round, Tiger Woods is chatting with magnate Dermot Desmond when little Ava Mulhall sprints out from behind the ropes, ducks the stewards and runs over to ask for an autograph. The stewards are a little agitated and try to scurry her away, but Tiger bends down and signs her programme. A cheer erupts from the crowd. At the great tournament, the fallen knight could find only praise.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Revelation of the day

The octopus knows nothing. Germany are going to win.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Wire, the squire and the wedding

This is a Board's eye view of Dominic West's wedding in Glin last Saturday, which was devilishly snuck into the Limerick Leader this week, for some reason:

There was an elegant bride and a hung over groom. There was an old carriage drawn by a mare named Bud, who they rode all they over from Tarbert “to take the spark out of her”. There was a style guide that mixed stovepipe hats with yellow flannel.

There were salmon canapés, sundried tomatoes and a jazz band who described themselves as”New Orleansy”. There were cameras, adoring eyes and sore heads. There were American actors fascinated by the slow beauty of an afternoon in Glin. There were bonfires and fireworks.

There was a wedding.

Last Saturday under the summer sun British actor Dominic West married Catherine FitzGerald, the Knight of Glin’s daughter. That’s the story. West, who played Detective Jimmy McNulty in the magnificent TV series ‘The Wire’, brought a train of glamour in his party of co-stars and famous friends.

But the hundreds of locals who gathered with their tiny digital cameras probably would have come anyway, such is the esteem that Glin holds for its Knight and his family. It was a society event which, underneath the detailed table settings and tinted Range Rovers, bore all the nerves and quiet panic and simple joy of any wedding day.

An hour and a half beforehand, on a small patio at the top of steep stone steps, Madam Olda Fitzgerald makes the introductions as guests sip dry champagne and discuss who is going to be getting changed where. The 29th Knight, who hasn’t been in the best of health, listens to lounge music filtering out through a nearby window, walking slowly here and there as friends seek his ear. Life has taught the mother and father of the bride to wind down and enjoy days like these.

A hundred yards away, inside the huge marquee wrapped in green ivy and held up by white timber poles and ship rope, stage designer Keith Payne dodges the staff hopping from table to table straightening forks, and listens to ‘Saloon Star’ rehearse their numbers.

Keith, who is deliberately ambiguous when he says his background is in “rock and roll”, points at the colourful canvas designs lining the canopy walls, which were painted especially for Catherine’s 21st birthday and simply had to be gathered from whatever dusty corner they were in.

In a garden kitchen, behind a crack in the canopy wall, chefs and their staff stack boxes of tomatoes, polish glasses and unload the strawberries that will feed 320 people.

Head chef Mickey French, with five hours’ sleep behind him, laughs off the madness. The menu, he says, is deliberately simple - though not lacking in expensive detail. There are canapés of smoked salmon, hand-made sausages, crostini with sundried tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to start; barbecued leg of lamb with new potatoes and mixed green salad for the main, and hand made roulade with fresh strawberries for dessert.

By half past three guests are abandoning their cars along the steep hillsides that wrap the Church of the Immaculate Conception, yards from the main castle gate. More than a handful can be seen wearing dark sunglasses and throwing back aspirin before they leave their luxury sedans. They were all in O’Shaughnessy’s pub the night before, you see, and the thick stout and clean air of the Shannon Estuary agrees with some better than others. The calm smiles of grimy heads will become a theme for the afternoon.

In small drips the famous faces drift by. Adam James, who appeared in ‘Extras’ and was blown up in ‘Band of Brothers’ went to school with Dominic. He warmly describes coming to Glin as being akin to “stepping back in time”, and remarks that he did his first ever Irish jig the night before in O’Shaughnessy’s with The Wire’s Wendell Pierce, aka The Bunk.

Sonja Sohn, who played Kima Greggs in The Wire, said that she just had to be here. “Dominic’s our boy, and he’s in love with Catherine. He’s a lovely guy, and there was a marked difference on the set with him after [he got back together with Catherine]. Not just his behaviour, but his attitude.”

 How was she enjoying Limerick? “I had a great time mixing with the locals. I like the Irish, they tend to be like Americans in that they’re very real. They tell it like it is, tell the truth, they don’t hide much.” Before making her way into the church, she stops to ask about the seaweed baths in Ballybunion. “Do you know if that’ll be open tomorrow?”

The watching crowd has swollen to almost 200 when the groom walks up to the church from the village side, a broad smile and bright green waistcoat masking a vicious hangover. He stops to talk at the top of the church steps, and is nearly flattened by a thick lump of old stone under his feet. He won’t be that stone’s last victim today.

How’s he feeling? “Slightly sick at the moment, but I’m about to feel very excited and happy, once the valium kicks in.” He speaks with heartfelt honesty when he thinks about the distance his friends and colleagues have travelled to be here: “I’m very, very chuffed and honoured actually. They’ve all come a long way; a lot of people have come a long way. A lot of the Wire boys have come and I’m very happy about that. [Last night] was a good night, a great night. One of O’Shaughnessy’s best.” He doesn’t hide the fact that he’s getting ready for round two: “Absolutely. But it’ll be all night tonight. We’re not going to cut it short.”

The bride is late, as all good brides are. Four o’clock becomes quarter past, which becomes half past. Then, from the corner of the castle’s long driveway, Catherine and her father appear in a simple black horse-drawn carriage. The crowds and cameras surge forward, and ripples of applause greet the bride as she dismounts in a classical cream gown that was made for her by a friend, carrying a small bouquet of fuchsia and white flowers. The Knight moves alongside her at a slow, steady pace.

“I feel so excited, really happy,” she said. “It’s like a fairytale.” Listening as her voice creaks from a year’s worth of singing the night before, Catherine smiles and apologises. “I’m afraid I’ve lost my voice”.

The church doors close behind her. The bulk of the crowd scatters. Children scurry around the courtyard during the service, daring each other to go forward and sneak a peak through the inner glass doors of the old church.

As their babies and toddlers grow restless, guests drift out of a side door and sit down on the islands of grass. The official photographer mills around the grounds in a three-piece suit, the sweat pumping down his back betraying the cool air of London calm he tries to sell with his handshakes and smiles.

Dominic and Catherine’s two-year-old son Senan holds a nanny’s hand as he ambles out of the church and approaches the horse and carriag waiting outside. Today is one of the happiest in his parent’s lives, but a toddler has other priorities. He’s lifted into the carriage, puts on the driver’s bowler hat and surveys all around him.

Tomas Coolahan, who drove the carriage, is double-jobbing. Later on, he’ll be in charge of the staff brought over from his pub in Tarbert to work the two bars in the marquee. His grandparents, Tom and Eileen Healy, met while working for the Knight in Glin Castle. Today, he’s working for nothing: “The Knight asked me to help out, and I wouldn’t let him down because of the family connection.”

In a place where no one knows him, Andre Royo - who played Bubbles, one of The Wire’s most powerful characters - moves from strut to stride as he walks up from the village 45 minutes late. “Hey, where’s the church?” he asks.

No sooner after he sneaks in he’s back outside again as the church empties and Saloon Star, after a change of clothes, unpack their instruments and greet husband and wife with an up-step rendition of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’.

Wendell Pierce spins on his heels every three seconds and breaks a fresh smile every time someone new approaches to tell him how much they loved him as The Bunk. He smirks when asked who lasted longer in O’Shaughnessy’s, him or his great drinking partner Jimmy McNulty. “I gave him a run for his money. I’m from New Orelans, you know”.

The groom, who has family ties to old gentry stock in Borrisokane, injects wry rasping prose into his after-dinner speech: “For many generations we looked down upon the rich veil of the Shannon. I have a vision of my ancestors saying that one day, we will take that land. And so, ten generations later I come, Desmond, to demand the hand of your oldest daughter.”

Later, braziers burn fresh cut timber and pine cones around the castle’s old sundial, as the guests celebrate under a sky lit by fireworks and hilltop bonfires. A man and a woman were married, but the day was like no other.

(All pics Dave Gaynor)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mayor rages against the dying of the light

Some background: this city is called Limerick, and Limerick city has a Mayor. Not a Lord Mayor, now. That kind of genuine attainment never sat well here. Just a Mayor.

At the moment, the Mayor is a man named Kevin Kiely. Next week, it will be someone else. Perhaps.

The elected members of Limerick City Council, in the dark corners that they call home, decided way back when to carve up the mayoralty according to party, hair colour and opinions on What is The Most Appropriate Biscuit to Dunk in Tea.

There's a pre-designated queue to get into that shiny riverfront office, but Cllr Kiely, having had his taste of golden chain gravy, doesn't want to move out.

The Mayor is confident that he can rally enough support next week against the voting pact formed by his own party, Fine Gael, to make sure he breaks precedent and remains Citizen One for another year.

However incase his move fails, which it absolutely will, he is cutting through his last week in office like a stoned infant through crepe paper.

Like an outgoing Bill Clinton scattering presidential pardons to convicted felons, Mayor Kiely is awarding mayoral receptions to all and sundry: community workers; comedians; doctors; model agents; bespectacled tourists who strayed too far from Arthur's Quay and found themselves wrapped in civic dignity and confusion.

It's gotten to the stage now where if you're in this town and you haven't had a mayoral reception, you clearly need to raise your game.

P. S. The Board wishes to temper this argument by confessing that he received a reception from Mayor Kiely back in the day, before they became as common as green fly, and is clearly unhappy that the value of that warm, drunken day in July has been cheapened. Yes, I'm selfish that way.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Revelation of the day

The Board is going to Jerusalem in September, and may accidentally bring peace in the Middle East and his awesome recipe for home-made Sangria with him.

No, you can't have it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Local Fine Gael TDs avoid phones; each other

FINE GAEL MUTINY WATCH DAY TWO - In which our local heroes battle for relevance in the front bench fracas

You can speak to a lot of people on the phone today, if you try hard enough.

Buster Hannan, perhaps, as he bemoans the narcoleptic letterbox men of Garryowen.

Or perhaps even Gary Brooks Faulkner, who was foiled while seeking to personally BRING THE PAIN to Osama Bin Laden.

But three people you'll struggle to get hold of are Kieran O'Donnell, Michael Noonan and Dan Neville.

As Richard Napoleon and Enda Clogsworth carve up their party seeking artillery for the coming firefight, the three Limerick Fine Gael TDs are keeping their powder dry. 

The Board finds this befuddling. His basic remit, you see, is to add sarcasm and toilet humour to the local affairs of the day.

Like any creative infant, The Board has stretched this to include such theses as the Middle East, Tiger Woods' mating habits and the violent subtleties of Jamaican rum.

The local angle is, you see, more of a guideline than a rule.

But when there should, in theory, be three potent Limerick routes to the story of the day, there has as yet been very little joy.

Fortunately it is the Agitator and Leader of Men, he who almost brought down the Government, who has been tasked with cooking the blue stew here.

Because The Board is a delicious sort, he has decided to share this exclusive nugget with you all: They're not saying anything.

As far as we know Kieran O'Donnell is wading through the Nile, Michael Noonan is stress testing the Mars pod and Dan Neville, who we can confirm IS IN THE COUNTY, may be locked in a panic room of some sort.

Stay tuned for more critical updates as the occur.

Revelation of the day

The Board wants one.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sh*t just got real

If Napoleon had a website, it would probably contain a tag line as forthright as

Richard Bruton KNOWS WHAT MUST BE DONE, you see. He's obviously been planning this for a while.

Fine Gael have never done the whole putsch thing with as much saucy endeavour as the soldiers of destiny. Back when Haughey and Reynolds were carving at each other with limp handshakes and character buzzsaws, politics seemed so much more simple.

This recent era of gravy trains and communal glee and a power teet big enough for everyone to have a nibble dulled the appetite for revolution.

Where's the fun in that?

We vote you into this life of power and privilege at our expense. The least you can do is entertain us with blood sport.

The Board, for one, welcomes Napoleon's decision to have a shot at the title, as Enda Kenny was fashioned from Dutch clogs but without the rhythm and animation.

Hopefully there'll be explosions and death and a realisation that the public do not like Enda and the cinematic input of Michael Bay and possibly a cameo by Martin Lawrence.

Well, maybe we can do without Michael Bay.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Revelation of the bank holi-Day

After a weekend of getting changed in car parks, doing naked press ups in the street, being burned at every junction by Mr Pink's one-liners and drinking more rum than a pirate, The Board has found his new favourite place. Kilkenny.

The Board has also discovered that he does a savage impression of Andy Parsons.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The revolution will be televised

Thanks to new media, death now only counts if it is caught on video.

Israel cannot and will not find any tolerance for the murderous actions it inflicted upon a civilian vessel in international waters early on Monday morning.

But what many are finding hard to stomach is the blatant hypocrisy of the international community's response.

A tragedy? Yes. The provocative act of a pariah state with nuclear capability? Yes. A surprise? No.

Embassies are rattling and marchers are marching in the wake of Israel's latest crimes. But the raid on the Mavi Marmara should not shock anyone familiar with how the Israeli government goes about its work.

But simply because Sky News and Reuters and France 24 were broadcasting shaky deck footage of soldiers attacking and being attacked within an hour of Monday's dawn raid, it becomes an international incident.

Because Twitter was alight with frantic updates all yesterday morning about reported death tolls, it becomes an international incident.

The ancient ignorance of diplomatic rules and a modern obsession with the latest footage came together in a shameful marriage yesterday morning.

Where were the citizen journalists when Palestinian children were being killed in hospitals struck by IDF bombs in December 2008?
Where were the UN Security Council when Israel used white phosphorous bombs on the innocent people of Gaza City?
Where is the rage of the online masses every single day that Israel breaks international law by starving the Gaza Strip and building new settlements in the West Bank?

New media has brought the information era into the minds and pockets of a new generation. Say whatever you want about the cheapening effect this has had on professional reporting.

The Board, for one, supports the editor of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger when he speaks of a future of 'mutualisation' between the creators and consumers of media. But New Media needs to sharpen its moral compass.

A two-year-old child crushed to death in its mother's arms cannot record footage on an iPhone. Until it can, its death will never mean as much to us as that of the 26-year-old Turk who does.

That truth - one we hold in our own minds - is as appalling as anything in Israel's murderous arsenal.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ordinary decent criminal

Wayne was in the house last week. You may have heard. He's being mistreated and hassled, apparently. What do you think? Pah.

Rather than come up with a fresh, pensive opinion piece on it, The Board is going to re-hash an editorial he wrote about it all for last week's Leader, which Wayne - being an aggreived customers of ours, natch - surely read 11 times.

"Both the cause and effect of violent crime were clearly visible in Limerick this week.

On Monday, as Ireland legend Niall Quinn arrived in the city to announce details of a charity soccer match in aid of the Shane Geoghegan Trust, Wayne Dundon, one of Limerick’s most violent criminals, spoke out against alleged press intrusion into his life.

For a man like Dundon, the most senior figure in the Dundon-McCarthy crime gang and someone who thrives off an aura of silent menace, to simply walk into the Limerick Leader offices and bare his soul was extraordinary.

He spoke of his apparent feelings of hurt, fear and anger about the “innuendo” with which he is portrayed in the local and national media. He dismissed the feelings of Steve Collins, whose son Roy was murdered by a member of the Dundon-McCarthy gang last year and – to the derision of many – claimed he is afraid to set foot outside his home in Ballinacurra Weston, for fear that he is accused of threatening Roy Collins.

It is bitterly ironic that it was the publication in several newspapers, including this one, of photographs of his daughter’s Communion celebrations that sparked Dundon’s indignation.

It is understandable that Wayne Dundon and his wife are protective of the feelings of their seven-year-old daughter, but Roy Collins was murdered a month before his own daughter made her Communion – gunned down by James Dillon, a junior member of the Dundon-McCarthy gang.

Hardened gangland criminals do not exist in the same society as the rest of us. We may walk the same footpaths and breathe the same air, but they live outside our world of decency and respect for life beyond our own.

But what drove Wayne Dundon to allow his feelings to become known to the wider public?

Five weeks ago, he was released from prison after serving five years for threatening to kill Ryan Lee, Roy Collins’s first cousin, in December 2004. His release was met with trepidation by those who value safety and calm on the city’s streets.

However, Dundon this week insisted that since then, he has become a virtual recluse. Dundon has undoubtedly been shaken by the fierce, brave and relentless actions of Steve Collins and his public quest for the men who orchestrated his son’s murder to be brought to justice.

James Dillon, the 24-year-old who pulled the trigger, has now begun a life sentence for Roy Collins’s murder, but his father does not believe that this is enough. If he does feel that he is an undeserving target of Steve Collins’ ire, Wayne Dundon will find little sympathy among the ordinary people ofLimerick.

However, crime is not simply the property of urban estates and nefarious ganglords. At a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in County Hall last Friday, Chief Supt David Sheahan praised garda efforts in securing a 21 percent drop in reported crime in county Limerick in the first four months of 2010.

In particular there was an 18 per cent decrease in burglaries and a 36per cent fall in firearms offences. This, coupled with tougher drug enforcement measures, has enabled gardai in our towns and villages to continue fighting crime on their terms.

However none of us can take the peace and order that we all seek to live by for granted.

Crime in Limerick city and county is itself just a consequence of the poverty and social exclusion that creates a world where gangland criminals flourish.

The rigorous work of the gardai and the ruthless honesty of men like Steve Collins may crack the dangerous facades that criminals spend their lives building. But it may never be enough.

Our society is unforgiving of serious criminals but is far too quick to accept as fact the world that they come from. We must all continue to look beyond headlines and photographs and statistics.

Crime, like so much else, is about cause and effect."

At Last, the First Farewell Tour

We've been through this before.

Like some Youtubed charlatan, The Board had his moment of electronic fame but disappeared into ignominy when he realised he could not type more than 400 words per day.

The hole in the internet was sharp and juicy as bloggers everywhere wondered aloud where their bi-weekly quotient of toilet jokes had gone.

Askeaton, Glin, Newcastle West and a dirty isolated forest road in Kilcornan is the answer.

Alas the expense account had to run out eventually, so The Board has returned, decrepit as the day Jebus made him.

What did we miss? Willie got the bullet, as did Eamon Dunne. Jim McDaid popped his gasket and The Board popped his shoulder joint.

Ailments and idiocy aside, The Board will try to keep you abrest of all such things in future, before his Tracy Jordan-esque habit of eating batteries claims his sweet, tender young life.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Leader poll finds disdain for national holiday; skitters

The Board hates St Patrick's Day parades. Honestly. I would rather have my face tarred whilst being serenaded by Don Henley than endure one.

Chicken scratch banners. Vintage tractors with with motor skitters spewing diesel in your face. The blinding hue of false smiles. The rain. The inevitable hangover.

If the new Limerick Leader/UL poll had decided to include The Board in its testing sample and dared ask one of its serious, generic questions about politics and the economy and the most tragic lost childhood ice cream (Magnum Cone, we hardly knew thee), the discussion would have been skewed with abrupt fervour.

I don't know much about Shannon Airport, Suzie, but LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT GOD DAMN PIPE BANDS.

But among the 300 non-demented people who gave UL a chunk of their life before demanding they give it back, the answers were far more constructive.

62.7 per cent of them agreed that Willie had to go, 66.7 per cent dislike the fact that the entire region is on the dole, while only 12.7 per cent believe that Michael O'Leary's bare ass is to blame for the ills of Shannon Airport.

Future editions of the Leader will reveal more answers to those aching questions we're all asking, such as who is Limerick's favourite politician of all time and whether the Super Chip is the city's finest cultural achievement.

Post Script: Yes, The Board is aware that it has been well over one Earth-month since he last dropped a literary load all over the internet.

He has, you see, been stuck in a dangerous cycle. As he is now interim information overlord for all West Limerick, his weeks become so viciously busy that electronic disgraces such as this page have been reduced to semi-retirement.

Other areas of life that have suffered include: sport, career, personal fulfilment, libido, knowledge of NFL free agency and trapeze skills.
Though I have found myself watching a lot more Curb Your Enthusiasm and switching tenses mid-paragraph, which is always to be welcomed.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pink cocktails and the Duffy Principle

The Board loves slow news weeks. Honest.

True, they often turn him greener than Ed Begley Jr at a climate camp, but they provide wonderful proof of how obsessive and easily distracted the media can be.

Take the recent hokum over the new president's residence in UL, and how it is a religious disgrace that about €2 million snots can be spent on such a frivolous, horribly angular building in this time of Great Depression.

As The Board's colleague and chief malteser thief Lady Sheridan puts it in her riposte here, this was never an issue while everyone had anything to talk about. Less than four years ago €17.8 million was spent on a bridge across the Shannon without a single peep from Batt O'Keeffe or the Mayor of Limerick or anyone else.

That's because nobody cared. This time next week, no one will care either. The Board never cared at any stage.

There's a weekly quota for public rage in this country. In the absence of easy, pick-up-and-play outrage (the trashing of John Gormley's entire emissions and waste treatment policy is too blasé, natch), the media will pick on whatever target we can find, and the easier the better.

Call it the Duffy principle.

As a dusty child of fortune, The Board prefers more romantic sources of angst. The cost of the new hot air balloon rides in Adare, for one.

A wonderful way to spend 90 minutes, of course. The trip of a lifetime, maybe. But €240? Really? The Board would rather waste it on elaborately-shaped breads and pink cocktails which, as evident in the picture below, he first sampled on a recent trip to Lahndan.

It was mostly Jack Daniels and therefore not at all feminine. Honest.

Monday, January 11, 2010

C'est l'hiver, punk

Yes, it is still cold. Yes, The Board is still complaining about it. But as we have ascertained in the year-or-so since this blog first sauntered, stumbled and hit its head off the internet, The Board rather enjoys complaining.

But seriously, walking on ice lakes? In this country? Have we all gone collectively mad?

As you can see from the above picture (ithankyou, Dave Gaynor), skidding across Lough Gur became the done thing for the bored East Limerick masses at the weekend.

Lovely, except for the fact that the ice was probably thinner than Tony Blair's invading-Iraq-logic.

Despite garda warnings to the contrary, people happily skitted around the county's frozen ponds, oblivious to the Di Caprio-esque fate that awaited them if they fell through it.

The Board even heard that someone went out on Lough Gur in a wheelchair.

Holy Christ.

P.S If you're looking for evidence that Limerick people do know how to enjoy winter weather without dicing with death, check out our pictures of assorted snowmen here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Revelation of the day

The Board is now obsessed with American football, and is delighted that his beloved Detroit Lions are probably going to get Nebraska's defensive beast Ndamukong Suh in the draft.

Yes, I know. The Board is a weird sports nerd.


Le grand froid

*The Board stumbles forward and reaches for his desk, like a beached whale clawing for the sweet gravy of sea water. He trips, clatters into a stack of papers and carrot hand cream, and falls face first into the picture on his wall of Erica Salmon, Miss Limerick 2007*

Happy New Year, Indeed.

Who among you has resolved to better yourselves in 2010? Get fit, maybe? Or stop swearing? Maybe there's an exotic brand of oyster sauce you've always wanted to try, but could never work up the courage to do so?

Well then, this is the time for you. 2010 is the year of the tiger, and tigers take chances. (Some more than others, pnarf - Leader Ed)

But that won't be the case for The Board. 2010 will probably slip by unbeknownst as he stays put, dreaming of a job in The Guardian, hurling abuse at that vagrant On The Beat, complaining about his myriad rugby injuries.

No, just give me some popular culture and media a-happenings to rant about and I'll be fine.

For example, there's been a lot said about how TV3 dropped Da Bomb on St Stephen's Day that the Minister for Finance has cancer.

TV3 aren't very popular in media circles at the moment for the display of tabloid garishness that was their 'exclusive' bulletin. To say the man is sick is one thing, to start referring to him in the past tense and air a montage of his life's achievements is another.

To paraphrase Richard Pryor, the Sultan of comedy, he ain't dead yet, motherf*cker.

TV3's defence has been that the Minister for Finance is the Minister for Finance, and more than any other arm of government his policies, attitudes and well being directly and immediately impact on Ireland's place in the world.

Just look at the fact that shares in Bank of Ireland and AIB jumped by 15 and 12.5 per cent the day after Brian Lenihan announced that he was going to continue in office.

TV3 will argue, therefore, that it was in the public interest for people to know about his cancer. It is a defence that may end up working.

But it shouldn't.

The Irish media have had to fight tooth and nail over the past three years to prevent Michael McDowell's draconian privacy legislation coming into effect. Without getting into semantics, the bill would limit forever the ability of journalists in this country to investigate and publish material which would hold power to account.

So far, it hasn't seen the light of day, due to trade offs by the media industry including new defamation law and formation of the Press Council.

But as long as TV3 work like wolves and air a story that may have been heartbreaking for a man and his family simply so they can pre-empt their rivals by a week; as long as the Sunday Independent write that Liam Lawlor died in the company of prostitutes; as long as the Daily Mail and the rest of the gutter press undermine what journalism is and what journalists do, the Government will have enough juice to push through a privacy law that will chain the duty of Irish reporters to injunctions and super injunctions, much like the recent Guardian-Trafigura debacle.

Brian Lenihan has shown tremendous dignity in being open, frank and not at all bitter about how his illness was thrust into the public domain. He will fight his disease and he will have the good wishes of a nation with him as he does.

But the impact of the how the likes of TV3 continue to confuse 'of interest to the public' with 'the public interest' may become the real legacy of all this.