In­cred­i­ble dig­nity in the face of a ter­ri­ble tragedy

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - & - Dar­ragh McManus

The dis­ap­pear­ance of Deirdre Ja­cob in 1998 is one of those ter­ri­ble mo­ments which have seared them­selves into the na­tional con­scious­ness. Re­cently, the 20th an­niver­sary of her dis­ap­pear­ance, from near her home in Kil­dare, sparked fresh in­ter­est in the case — and seems to have sparked some­thing more, as “sig­nif­i­cant new in­for­ma­tion” has now re­sulted in gar­daí up­grad­ing it from miss­ing per­sons to a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Of course, the most im­por­tant peo­ple here — apart from the poor young woman her­self — are her fam­ily. Dad Michael told News at One (Ra­dio 1, Mon-Fri 1pm) that “lis­ten­ing to (the news) this morn­ing, it still came as a shock. Just hear­ing those sort of words — that Deirdre was mur­dered — it’s a really heart-wrench­ing sit­u­a­tion. We al­ways held out hope (she was alive). But now, the way this in­ves­ti­ga­tion is go­ing, it’s a dif­fi­cult time.”

The fam­ily hopes “this me­dia cov­er­age will en­cour­age some­one, who might have that vi­tal piece of in­for­ma­tion, to come for­ward. We’re ap­peal­ing to them. Now is the time to tell.”

He, and wife Bernie, have been in­cred­i­bly brave and dig­ni­fied through­out all this. The whole coun­try has been pray­ing for a happy end­ing for them, though sadly, that does not ap­pear pos­si­ble now.

Is the Rose of Tralee out of touch with mod­ern Ire­land? This is the ques­tion posed by An­drea Gil­li­gan on New­stalk Break­fast (Mon-Fri 7am). Is it still rel­e­vant?

Her guest, colum­nist Larissa Nolan, is not a big fan — and never has been. “I don’t think it’s out­dated for 2018,” she said, “it’s al­ways been out­dated… I can’t un­der­stand why some­one would be in­ter­ested in watch­ing this, and why would these highly ac­com­plished women be both­ered en­ter­ing.” She also de­scribed the Rose, waspishly but rather amus­ingly, as be­ing “like a 12-year-old’s birth­day party”.

I like Nolan as a com­men­ta­tor, but must de­mur in this in­stance. The Rose is at worst harm­less, at best a way for the Ir­ish di­as­pora to re­con­nect with their spir­i­tual home­land. It’s hard to un­der­stand why any­one would get all worked up about it ei­ther way.

Fu­ture­proof (New­stalk, Sat 12 noon) was this week con­cerned with our im­mi­nent demise… pos­si­bly. Lauren Sal­lan, pa­le­o­bi­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, spoke to Jonathan McCrea about “mass ex­tinc­tion events”, de­fined as “an event that wipes out bio­di­ver­sity at or­ders of mag­ni­tude far above what we call ‘back­ground ex­tinc­tion’ — wip­ing out, say, 60pc of species, or species that wouldn’t be ex­pected to die off.”

Life stag­gered on to land dur­ing the Cam­brian Ex­plo­sion over 500 mil­lion years ago. Since then there have been five mass ex­tinc­tions. Is a sixth hap­pen­ing now? The jury re­mains out — but hold off on in­vest­ing in those build­ing so­ci­ety shares all the same.

Com­edy show Sketch (Dublin City FM, Wed 3pm) has re­turned for a sec­ond se­ries. Last year I de­scribed Michael Cullen’s cre­ation as “at­tempt­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent — and do­ing a darn good job of it”, with trippy, funny set-ups making for daft, clever, in­ven­tive, wellplayed and very en­ter­tain­ing com­edy.

All of this con­tin­ues to ap­ply. I es­pe­cially en­joyed the clipped-toned ac­tress pro­vid­ing the “pub­lic voice” of Arch­bishop McQuaid and Christy Ring, and Marky Markievicz, the rap­ping rebel who ru­ins sur­prise at­tacks in 1916 by “bust­ing out dope rhymes”.

Fi­nally, I’m nei­ther a fan of John Boyne’s books or “con­fes­sional” in­ter­views. Yet his con­ver­sa­tion with Bren­dan O’Con­nor (The Mar­ian Fin­u­cane Show, Ra­dio 1, Sat-Sun 11am), about the break-up of Boyne’s mar­riage and an at­tempted sui­cide, was com­pelling ra­dio — im­pos­si­ble to switch off and ul­ti­mately very mov­ing.

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