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Archive for June, 2011

Centuries ago, a noble Irish tribe known as the ‘Deisí’ were driven out of their land around Kildare.  After a period of light recreational conquering, they settled in what we now know to be the county of Waterford.  The area is known to this day as The Deise.  We know little of why these bright, eminent people were banished, but even a cursory glance around their descendants today in modern-day Waterford would suggest that it was probably because of their intimidating intellectual prowess and immense sexual magnetism.  You can see why that would not have gone down well in the Newbridge of yesteryear. Or,  I suspect, of today.

While our Deisí forebears have bequeathed much to us by way of looks and personality, they have also left us with a bitter legacy in the form of constant banishment.  A feeling of never quite making it in to the big league.  Of being the eternal bridesmaid.  Of being almost there but then cruelly dashed.  I speak, of course, of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship.  Few counties have known the giddy excitement of near victory only to find ourselves banished again and again to the sidelines of history as we have.  Because no amount of scenic beauty or attractive native folk can ever compensate a person for being a figure of fun for Tipperary people.

If you don’t believe me, watch this

Or this

Or for sheer gratuitous torture, watch this

The hardship is bad enough.  But it is compounded by the inevitable jokes at our expense.  Kilkenny people are especially splenetic in this regard.

What is the new bridge on the ring-road to be called?
The Liam McCarthy Bridge – because it bypasses Waterford!
 
Why are Waterford hurlers like a woman in a Wonderbra?
Plenty of support but no cups!

Boom Boom!  (Or, in the case of the latter, bust bust!)  Let me assure you that the sporting people of Waterford people have no such cruel, infantile jibes.  For example,

How many Kilkenny fans does it take to change a light bulb?
Yeah, as if they have electricity in Kilkenny…

would be one of the many jokes that I imagine other fans have recounted, but not us.  We’re a classy bunch.

You would think we would be resigned to our fate.  You would think that losing seven semi-finals in thirteen years would yield a response of a Pavlovian nature and we’d all take the hint and give up.  But no.  Each year, spring turns to summer, the days lengthen and the warm wind from over the Comeraghs, along with fresh memories of a creditable performance in the National League, fill our hearts with renewed optimism.  And so we set ourselves on the inevitable path to a brief heady exhilaration  followed by despair and self-doubt. Memories such as these

are banished and replaced by such as these

You could hardly blame us for reaching for the stars and doing a bit of airbrushing of history along the way.  There are only so many times you can be the laughing stock, but there are equally only so many times you can be the Tiny Tim of the piece – the wretched waif that everyone else pities.  It’s one thing to have a Cork supporter scoff at you, but it’s quite another to have one shake your hand and tell that you fought the good fight, you’ll gave it a hundred and ten per cent, you’ll be back and so on.  Spare me your platitudes! Go mix your metaphors somewhere else!  Surely there’s a Kerry person more deserving of your thinly veiled scorn for whatever ancient grudge is going on along your western frontier?

Forgive me, I’m just bitter.  We all are.  We are a wondrous people.  There’s our beautiful coastline, our scenic mountains, our noble tradition of fine crystal, our Olympic medal winner, our Viking heritage, our unique take on the humble breadroll.  It’s all good.  And yet there is a giant Liam-McCarthy-shaped-hole punched in our ego by teams we regard as our social and intellectual inferiors.  Don’t we seem like the kind of people who should have an All-Ireland title in the lifetime of the under-50s?  Don’t the ancient Deisi deserve to the vindicated?  Because it turns out that our intimidating intellectual prowess and immense sexual magnetism, while the envy of the dopey and ugly counties, are just not enough to sustain us past the first Sunday in September.

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With Father’s Day fast upon us, I thought I’d suggest ways to brighten up this afterthought of a festival with some amusing japes at the expense of the father in your life.  Just because it doesn’t wrench at the heart strings like, say, Mother’s Day, or at the purse strings like Christmas, there’s no reason why you can’t brighten it up with gratuitous cruelty.

Tell him his little princess, the apple of his eye, is to be wed.  Or certainly shacked up, at a minimum.  The lucky gent is twenty years her senior, is twice-divorced, sells dodgy life assurance to the over 65s and votes Fianna Fail.  You think he’s quite the catch and a steadying influence.

Tell him your impressionable teenage son – what other kind is there? – has gone out on a bender with Wayne Rooney.

Get the kids a credit card.

Get an extra key cut for your car and give it to your eldest child.

Let him overhear a carefully orchestrated converation in which your children discuss how they are going to put you and not dad in the nice nursing home.

If you children are entering the heightened vanity of the teenage years, remind dad of all the showers they will be taking and how water charges are coming in.

Shout out “Great news, she’s ditched the life assurance guy.  He tried to stop her going on a tour with Guns ‘n’ Roses.”  Mention how you think it’s for the best.  She needs to get out more.

Disparage Munster to his sons. Or tell them stories of dad’s stag night.  Sometimes, if dad has had an especially colourful past, you can combine the two.

Leave a note next to the phone that Ryan Giggs called.  “Couldn’t quite make out what he said – something about how he was looking for your sister???”

However, in the great scheme of emotional cruetly, these are trifling acts.  If you really want to wound the father of your children in a most grievous manner – for, say, finishing off the Chocolate Rich Teas – then you have to wheel out the big guns.  It’s not pleasant but it gets results.

Tell him that college fees are coming back.  So the kids aren’t moving out after all.

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