A Multisensory St. Patrick's Day

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For your listening pleasure: the definitive version of “Arthur McBride”, sung and played by Paul Brady. Perfect song, perfect vocal, and an accompaniment that drove all of us three-chord strummers to despair for years.

While you’re listening to Paul (and you’ll want to hear that more than once), begin preparing your St. Patrick’s Day Boxty, from Balbulican’s own recipe.

1 large, freshly boiled potato
1 large peeled, raw potato
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 bunch of chives, diced
Pinch salt
Butter, for frying (yeah, yeah, I know.)

Peel the cooked potatoes while hot. Mash them in a bowl.
Grate the raw potatoes (not TOO fine), and add to the mashed potatoes.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the mix.
Mix well, and add enough buttermilk to make a stiff batter.
Add the chopped chives.
Heat a frying pan, grease with butter (yeah, yeah, I know) and cook the mix just like a pancake.
When crispy and browned, serve with butter (yeah, yeah, I know) and bacon or sausages, or just with honey.

And as you dine, savour this St. Patrick’s Day reading from the delightful Myles Na gCopaleen, on Synge, the very essence of Synthetic Oirishness.

A lifetime of cogitation has convinced me that in this Anglo-Irish literature of ours (which for the most part is neither Anglo, Irish, nor literature) (as the man said) nothing in the whole galaxy of fake is comparable with Synge. That comic ghoul with his wakes and mugs of porter should be destroyed finally and forever by havig a drama festival at which all his plays should be revived for the benefit of the younger people of today. The younger generation should be shown what their fathers and grand-daddies went through for Ireland, and at time when it was neither profitable nor popular.

We in this country had a bad time through the centuries when England did not like us. But words choke in the pen when one comes to describe what happened to us when the English discovered we were rawther interesting peepul ek’tully, that we were nice, witty, brave, fearfully seltic and fiery, lovable, strong, lazy, boozy, impulsive, hospitable, decent, and so on till you weaken. From that day the mouth-corners of our smaller intellectuals (of whom we have more per thousand births than any country in the world) began to betray the pale froth of literary epilepsy. Our writers, fascinated by the snake-like eye of London publishers, have developed exhibitionism to the sphere of acrobatics. Convulsions and contortions foul and masochistic have been passing for literature in this country for too long. Playing up to the foreigner, putting up the witty celtic act, doing the lovable but erratic playboy, pretending to be morose and obsessed and thoughtful - all that is wearing so thin that we must put it aside soon in shame as one puts aside a threadbare suit. Even the customers who have been coming to the shop man and boy for fifty years are fed up. Listen in the next time you hear some bought-and-paid-for Paddy broadcasting from the BBC and you will understand me better.

This trouble probably began with Lever and Lover. But I always think that in Synge we have the virus isolated and recognisable. Here is stuff that anyone who knows the Ireland referred to simply will not have. It is not that Synge made people less worthy or nastier, or even better than they are, but he brought forward with the utmost solemnity amusing clowns talking a sub-language of their own and bade us take them very seriously. There was no harm done there, because we have long had the name of having heads on us. But when the counterfeit bauble began to be admired outside Ireland by reason of its oddity and ‘charm’, it soon became part of the literary credo here that Synge was a poet and a wild celtic god, a bit of a genius, indeed, like the brother. We, who knew the whole inside-outs of it, preferred to accept the ignorant outsiders on things Irish. And now the curse has come upon us, because I have personally met in the streets of Ireland persons who are clearly out of Synge’s plays. They talk and dress like that, and damn the drink they’ll swally but the mug of porter in the long nights after Samhain.

The Plain People of Ireland: Any relation between that man and Synge Street in Dublin where Bernard Shaw was born?

Myself: I don’t think so, because Bernard Shaw was born before Synge.

The Plain People of Ireland: The Brothers runs a very good school there - manys a good Irishman got his learnin there. They do get a very high place in the Intermediate and the Senior Grade every year.

Myself: Faith you’re right.

The Plain People of Ireland: But of course your man Shaw digs with the other foot.

Myself: Aye.

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This page contains a single entry by Balbulican published on March 17, 2012 5:25 AM.

Roboscam: Abuse of constituents was the previous entry in this blog.

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