ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

that, and all of the above. But, I think, it’s where he’s pinned his fo­cus that marks him out as a man to be heard. His whole vi­sion rests on tap­ping into our sense of iden­tity. Not in a jin­go­is­tic sense, but in an ap­peal to our deep­est hu­man­ity.

I say this be­cause, from the get-go the other night, I heard the voice of an in­flu­en­tial master coming through and min­gling with Tier­nan’s own — the late philoso­pher-poet-writer John Mo­ri­arty. They met first when Tommy did his walking-around-Ire­land TV se­ries, Su­per­tramp, in 2002, af­ter which he and Mo­ri­arty be­came friends. ‘Be­fore we had psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tals, we

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had open spa­ces,’ Tommy starts one riff. Mo­ri­arty, in con­ver­sa­tion with Tommy in Su­per­tramp says, ‘Un­less there’s wild­ness around you, some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pens to the wild­ness in­side you, and if you let the wild­ness in­side of you die, I think you’re fin­ished’. Just one idea I see flow­ing on from one to the other, a con­ti­nu­ity of in­flu­ence.

Mo­ri­arty had a great sense of the im­por­tance of be­ing in com­mu­nion with na­ture, be­ing mind­ful of our process of evo­lu­tion through en­vi­ron­ment and his­tory and of con­nect­ing to what that means through mythol­ogy. He posited that there was an alternative way of look­ing at the world, a think­ing about how we live, that was, to para­phrase blandly, gen­tler on us as in­tel­li­gent mam­mals and more in tan­dem with the ways of the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment whence we is­sue, and of which we are a part. He was crit­i­cal of where we were at, ‘re­duc­ing ev­ery­thing in sight to com­mod­ity. And as is the col­lec­tive eye so is the col­lec­tive soul.’

A shin­ing aca­demic star, Mo­ri­arty grad­u­ated from UCD with a dou­ble-first in phi­los­o­phy and English. But af­ter a short ca­reer in academia, he re­jected — as he put it him­self — ‘be­ing re­spectable’, and ul­ti­mately de­voted his life to his vi­sion­ary writ­ing and think­ing, while liv­ing sim­ply and work­ing as a gar­dener in Con­nemara. I find the archetypes of those two men very pow­er­ful as a di­ver­gent pic­ture of how we as a peo­ple might imag­ine our­selves into the fu­ture.

Mo­ri­arty’s ex­trap­o­la­tion of his think­ing in his writ­ings is rather hard to com­pre­hend. I find him more com­pelling in speech — there’s lots on YouTube. It’s ex­cit­ing that Tommy is, as I see it, tak­ing the essence of his think­ing, re­vert­ing to myth, re­think­ing who we are, con­sid­er­ing our na­ture in tan­dem with Na­ture; that he’s tak­ing that gen­tle, pro­found cir­cum­spec­tion into his work. We so need this at this time — it’s sign­post­ing, alert­ing us: Hey, think on this. Own the best of who we are be­fore it’s wiped out by the fun­da­men­tal empti­ness of other, more dom­i­nant, cul­tural ef­flu­ent. Be who we are, from the depths of what we come from.

Tommy is scratch­ing away at some­thing very deep and real in his work. He’s not in­fal­li­ble, but he’s the only one do­ing it in such a di­rect man­ner. Proof: the bot­tom line. He’s added three more dates in March.

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