FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - Don’t miss Fiona Looney’s bril­liant col­umn, with her unique take on mod­ern Ire­land, only in the Ir­ish Daily Mail ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

It’s a fa­mil­iar enough sce­nario: you meet some­body who you’ve met be­fore, but you can’t for the life of you re­mem­ber their name. Which is fine, un­til you meet them again, and again, and then sud­denly the whole cha­rade has gone way, way too far for you to ever en­quire af­ter their name. So you learn to live in con­stant fear of some­body new en­ter­ing your cir­cle, and you hav­ing to in­tro­duce your ap­par­ent best friend to them — and at the same time, you in­sist on hang­ing around the fringes of their com­pany in the di­min­ish­ing hope that some day, some­body else will drop their name into the con­ver­sa­tion. Well, that is where I cur­rently am with the Féile.

What I should have done, a year ago, back when some­body in the GAA club first said, ‘And of course next year, we have Féile,’ was raise my trem­bling, ig­no­rant hand and ad­mit, ‘Hey, I have no idea what that is.’ But of course I didn’t. In­stead, I nod­ded sagely, along with ev­ery­one else, as though this was the news I had been wait­ing to hear ever since I was born.

And since then, when­ever I’m re­minded that of course, I have Féile this year, I have ac­knowl­edged the im­mi­nent ar­rival of this mys­te­ri­ous event with a world-weary shrug that sug­gests, ‘Hey, as if I don’t have enough things to think about.’

I know that Féile has some­thing to do with the GAA and, through a process of elim­i­na­tion — The Teenager has aban­doned camo­gie and The Youngest never took to it — I pre­sume it in­volves The Boy. Sure enough, he has al­ready at­tended two dis­cos in the club, fundraisers for Féile. I threat­ened to vol­un­teer as a stew­ard at the more re­cent one, mainly to wind up The Boy, but also be­cause I hoped that I might over­hear some­thing there that would of­fer me some sort of a clue as to what Féile ac­tu­ally in­volves. But The Boy, in turn, threat­ened not to go if I was in­volved and so the sum of my Féile knowl­edge still con­sists of the fact that it is al­most upon me. Ac­tu­ally, there was a sup­ple­men­tary piece of ev­i­dence: a cou­ple of weeks back, to the back­drop of carhorns blar­ing through the parish on a Sun­day morn­ing, a friend texted me, ‘The girls won Féile!’ In the end, de­lighted as I was for them, I de­cided this

You meet the same per­son again, and again, and then the whole cha­rade has gone too far to ever ask their name

un­ex­pected piece of in­for­ma­tion was sim­ply too con­fus­ing and so I men­tally re­jected it.

I sus­pect that my mind might be more open to in­for­ma­tion about Féile if there wasn’t a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of it that, ev­ery time I hear the word, harks back to Thurles at the very start of the 1990s and a cou­ple of sum­mer fes­ti­vals that came to define a par­tic­u­larly wild, won­der­ful and ut­terly care­free time in my life. Even now, when­ever I am in Sem­ple Sta­dium at a match, I still look around the sta­dium and re­mem­ber where I was, who I was with and who was on stage at the time. A cou­ple of years ago, I told The Boy, sit­ting be­side me watch­ing a game, about the time I saw a man climb out onto the very edge of the roof of the stand and then drop like a stone to the ground. Mirac­u­lously, he sur­vived un­scathed, but it was one of the most chill­ing things I have ever seen and I still can’t hear the band World Party — whose set was in­ter­rupted by the ac­ci­dent — with­out re­call­ing it. And now The Boy, who wasn’t even born when it hap­pened, can­not sit in the Ó Ri­ain Stand with­out sum­mon­ing up the im­age of it ei­ther.

One bad mem­ory, a mil­lion bril­liant ones. I have a thick folder of pho­to­graphs — re­mem­ber them? — that re­call those fes­ti­vals in all too vivid tech­ni­colour. I dusted them off re­cently to prove to The Teenager that I re­ally did use to hang around with Jack Knife Lee (or Gareth, as he was in those days) and had to keep a good few back, lest my chil­dren re­alise what a joy­ous, over­weight, un­der­dressed, slightly drunk, black-haired, punky crea­ture their mother used to be. They were look­ing at the cen­sored pho­tos when my neigh­bour and chief GAA cake­maker called in search of her son. ‘Do we need to make cakes for Féile?’ I asked her hope­fully, a fat bunch of madly in­crim­i­nat­ing pho­tos be­hind my back. ‘Of course not,’ came the baf­fled re­ply.

And now it us upon us. This is Féile week­end. And I have no idea what to ex­pect. But then, as that tat­tered col­lec­tion of won­der­fully happy snaps tes­ti­fies, it was ever thus.

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