Thursday, 14 May 2009

Famous as Gaeilge

A very strange thing has happened in the land of the Emerald Isle in the past five years; we have celebrities now. Of course there were always well known personalities, we had Gay Byrne, we had Ray Darcy, we had James Joyce, I once spotted Samuel Beckett in McDonalds once but I didn’t say anything. They were famous but on an equal level to county footballers or spotting one of your teachers in the shopping centre at the weekend. You weren’t in awe of them, you weren’t curious about them and you certainly weren’t that interested at in their private life. I remember in the mid nineties when The Corrs burst onto the international pop scene, how hilarious my friends and I used to think it was that anybody could think they were sexy and cool , when we all knew they were only from Dundalk (The Dundalk accent is a mixture of an animal slowly dying and incest)How things have changed? Thanks to TV3, the channel for people who like the “And finally..” bit of the news, so much, they built an entire TV station around it, Irish celebrity magazines like “VIP” and a now extinct animal called The Celtic Tiger, we suddenly had a generation of shiny, orange faced models with rugby playing boyfriends whose private lives we were supposed to give a fiddler’s gold capped tooth about.Top of the list is lanky TV presenter Ryan Tubridy. Seen as the young, hip, fresh face of RTE (he is thirty five so in Irish television terms barely legal) it was breathlessly reported this week that he has split from his girlfriend of four months as it “just wasn’t working out” . Why on earth we are supposed to care unfortunately isn’t explained.Celebrity journalism in a county so small just feels odd. Just as a hundred years ago, the Irish Debutante scene was the dowdy sister of glamorous London social swirl, so now the self declared “It” girls and boys seem like desperate New Look versions of their London peers. Being famous for being famous just doesn’t translate into Irish. Whereas in London, the social gap is so wide there are genuinely nightclubs you can only read about in the gossip pages of free newspapers, in Dublin, you probably went to all the glamorous hotspots in your first year at university. You can’t aspire to an unreachable lifestyle, when you know that most of them live in some dull D4 Dublin suburb, at home with their parents. In London, it’s the Jagger girls that tear up the East London clubbing scene, in Dublin, the Queen Bee is Rosanna Davison and her dad is Chris De Burgh-I think that succinctly explains the difference between the two cities. I don’t mean, isn’t London better, I mean that with a smaller city you just can’t cover up the bullshit. Whether you’re famous for having a Dad that loved Brown Sugar or one that crooned about a Lady in Red, it certainly isn’t your own talent that’s getting you into the VIP section.This new fangled celeb worship was viewed as yet another sign that the Celtic tiger had gorged the countries soul. Now the countries broke again, I look forward to the it boys and girls hanging up their dancing shoes and getting to work on their stream of conscious novels. Tick tock, lads, tick tock.The Granddaddy of the Dublin scene, Mr.God himself Bono is back in the newspapers publicising the marathon world tour he is about to embark on. Apart from saving the world, advising presidents and solving the world’s climate problem, Bono also dabbles in a side project , a musical group called U2. He came under criticism recently when it was revealed that despite urging everybody in hearing distance to donate money to charity, a complicated international banking system meant that he pays virtually nothing towards the Irish economy. Well done Mr. Hewson, absolutely no hypocrisy there then. I’m sure the Irish tax payer considers it a privilege to pay for your roads, health, etc. in return for the wonderful music you’ve provided over the years. My favourite Bono quirk, and there are so many, is the way you can tell if he’s being interviewed in the US, because he will suddenly develop a huge American accent. Watching him on Oprah last time was like seeing an am dram version of “Steel Magnolias”. Could be worse I suppose, he could be from Dundalk.

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