ZOZIMUS

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Viewpoints - LIAM COLLINS

IT’S dis­con­cert­ing to learn from Coun­cil­lor Man­nix Flynn that the Dublin City Coun­cil Cul­ture Com­pany spent €5.3m de­vel­op­ing a ‘‘Ten­e­ment Mu­seum’’ at No 14 Hen­ri­etta Street, the old­est Ge­or­gian street in the cap­i­tal.

The project (€3.2m came from the Coun­cil and the re­main­der from cen­tral funds) goes back a few years when the city coun­cil ac­quired two houses on the street from Ivor Un­der­wood, the much ma­ligned land­lord who bought and saved a vast amount of Ge­or­gian prop­erty around Dublin when the only other peo­ple in the mar­ket for it were those who saw its po­ten­tial for de­mo­li­tion and re­place­ment with cheap tat.

But that’s an­other story.

Man­nix Flynn has some harsh things to say about the Ten­e­ment Mu­seum, be­liev­ing it to be “fak­ery” and even “pa­tro­n­is­ing crap” at a time when there are nearly 10,000 peo­ple home­less in the coun­try.

“It is the height of grandios­ity and an in­sult to the home­less,” he says. “They spent over €5m to turn this bro­ken-down ruin into a build­ing mas­querad­ing as some­thing its not — you’d get a far more authen­tic ex­pe­ri­ence on the bus to Bal­lyfer­mot or Fin­glas,” he adds.

He rails against the vast amount of money spent on “un­nec­es­sary projects” which is dis­tract­ing the coun­cil from its real role of build­ing so­cial hous­ing.

As one of the old­est Ge­or­gian houses in the city, no­body is ar­gu­ing that No 14 Hen­ri­etta Street wasn’t worth sav­ing. Of course it was. But a Ten­e­ment Mu­seum?

Zozimus in­tends to fork out €9 this week for the hour-long tour to judge for him­self!

There are also other cul­tural icons like Ge­orge Bernard Shaw’s house in Synge Street and St Mary’s Abbey, which we visited many years ago. But it seems these places are closed as the coun­cil in­vests its money in cul­tural ide­ol­ogy.

THE idea of the for­mer Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Sir John Ma­jor lin­ing out for Long­ford Slash­ers sounds lu­di­crous, and of course it is.

But the cricket-lov­ing suc­ces­sor to Mar­garet Thatcher will be in Long­ford town to give the ‘‘Al­bert Reynolds Me­mo­rial Lec­ture’’ at the Back­stage Theatre — which is ad­ja­cent to the ‘‘Slash­ers’’ com­plex — on Mon­day next, De­cem­ber 10.

Al­though dur­ing the heat of try­ing to bro­ker an IRA cease­fire back in 1993/4 they were known to swear at each other like sailors, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Al­bert Reynolds and John Ma­jor grew into one of mu­tual trust and re­spect dur­ing the process.

It prom­ises to be a his­toric oc­ca­sion — and we’re told the lec­ture is al­ready a sell-out.

Zozimus had the hon­our of lin­ing out for one game for Long­ford Slash­ers back in the day — but wasn’t asked back. We have no doubt that be­fore ar­riv­ing in Long­ford John Ma­jor will have brushed up on his lo­cal his­tory and will know that ‘‘The Slash­ers’’ are named in hon­our of lo­cal hero Myles ‘‘The Slasher’’ O’Reilly, who held the bridge of Finea with around 100 men against a much larger Cromwellian con­tin­gent in 1644.

The fact that he was from Ca­van and the event took place in West­meath didn’t de­ter the Long­ford club from adopt­ing him for their own heroic pur­poses.

Next Sun­day an­other Long­ford club, Mul­li­nalaghta, will be try­ing to adopt O’Reilly’s steely de­ter­mi­na­tion when they line out against Kil­macud Crokes — an­other team that Zozimus graced — in the Le­in­ster Club foot­ball fi­nal in Tul­lam­ore.

May the best team win!

IT’S good to meet peo­ple who wear their learn­ing lightly, in fact so lightly that you wouldn’t know they were learned at all.

Zozimus had one such en­counter be­fore the An Post Irish Book Awards in the Clay­ton Ho­tel in Dublin when we lit­er­ally bumped into Luke O’Neill as we were both look­ing up our ta­bles.

Over a nice glass or two of cham­pagne we had a hu­mor­ous chat, and even­tu­ally dis­cov­ered he was one of the nom­i­nees for an award — but then again, wasn’t nearly ev­ery­body!

It was only the fol­low­ing day when we looked him up that we dis­cov­ered that Pro­fes­sor O’Neill has a brain as big as The Burling­ton and that his book, Hu­manol­ogy: A Sci­en­tist’s Guide to Our Amaz­ing Ex­is­tence, is a good read and he clev­erly even man­ages to get sex into it.

He’s also mod­est, giv­ing Pat Kenny the credit for in­spir­ing the book, as he does a weekly slot with the pre­sen­ter on New­stalk.

It turns out that he’s a pro­fes­sor in TCD, one of the world’s lead­ing im­mu­nol­o­gists and one of only two Fel­lows of the Royal So­ci­ety to be prac­tis­ing in Ire­land.

Bet­ter still, he plays in a post-punk band, The Metabolix, with RTE’s Brexit ex­pert Tony Con­nelly. The pair, life­long friends, were slum­ming it in Din­gle this week­end with a lot of other mu­sos, writ­ers, etc, at the Other Voices fes­ti­val. We also dis­cussed the value of a good ed­i­tor and he re­vealed that his boss at Gill Books asked him to fact-check more than 30 items — even with a big brain there is room to make a mis­take — that’s hu­manol­ogy for you.

******* Ev­ery so of­ten, a county coun­cil­lor in Meath look­ing for a bit of pub­lic­ity raises the ques­tion of why Trin­ity Col­lege won’t re­turn The Book of Kells to the town of Kells, even though we all know there’s not a snow­ball’s chance in hell of that hap­pen­ing.

But the ques­tion arises again in a lit­tle bit of light read­ing that Zozimus came across re­cently — Ire­land and the Re­cep­tion of The Bible, a learned tome coedited by Brad Ander­son and Jonathan Kear­ney of the School of The­ol­ogy, Phi­los­o­phy & Mu­sic at Dublin City Uni­ver­sity. A foot­note quotes the opin­ion of Bernard Mee­han, Keeper of Manuscripts at TCD, that The Book of Kells may have been pro­duced by monks on the Scot­tish is­land of Iona or in Kells, or parts of it in both places.

In one of the es­says in the book Amanda Dil­lon con­cludes her piece on The Book of Kells: “Ex­it­ing through the gift shop at the end of The Book of Kells dis­play, one finds, jostling side by side, vy­ing to cap­ture the tourist’s eye, ex­pen­sive jew­ellery and plas­tic knick-knacks in gaudy colours draw­ing from the im­agery of the book; there is some­thing for ev­ery taste and bud­get. There is barely a prod­uct of which one can con­ceive — an item of cloth­ing, a room in the house — that has not had The Book of Kells mo­tif ap­plied to it.” She found it ironic that when she went look­ing among the “care­fully or­ches­trated mer­chan­dis­ing” for an item that had not been “Kell­si­fied” all she could find was one or­di­nary copy of the Bible, at half-price, “re­duced to sell”.

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