Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Statute of the Blessed Virgin in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Church, UCD Belfield

Friday, June 1, 2012

As Ireland Votes Away Even More of its Sovereignty...

...the Late Late Show celebrates fifty years broadcasting.

My non-Irish readers might not know about the Late Late Show. It is (I have just read) the longest-running TV chat show in the world. For almost forty years, with a brief hiatus, it was presented by one man, Gay Byrne, whose silky voice is deeply soothing and comforting, even if you think (as I do) that his influence on the nation has been a bad one. The Late Late Show served as something of a banner for the liberalisation of Ireland over the years, tackling "taboo" subjects and opening "debate".

At least, that's what they always say. I don't remember much of that myself. I don't even remember the famous show featuring Annie Murphy, the woman who had a child by Bishop Eamon Casey, triggering the first of the 1990's scandals featuring the Irish Catholic Church.

No, all I remember of the Late Late Show is lying on the couch or the sitting room floor on Friday nights, happy to have a weekend stretching before me, often drifting to sleep while the studio conversation formed pictures in my head. So even though the Late, Late Show was a harbinger of Modern Ireland, I very much associate it with the Ireland of my youth-- which was the very last dregs of Catholic, nationalist Ireland.

But it was more than that. Since the topics covered ranged from serious to light-- Ireland was still, at this time, a fairly cultured nation-- it gave me an impression of the wholeness of life, and made me think of Ireland as one big extended family. (Especially as my parents usually watched it-- that is, my mother never missed it and my father usually sat in to complain about the guests.)

I've barely watched it since I was a child, but I understood it has become as jazzy, slick and superficial as the Ireland it helped to create.

Will I watch the fiftieth anniversary edition tonight? You know, I feel half-tempted (an odd expression but sometimes the right one). At least it will keep me from thinking about the referendum.

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