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”.