Saturday, March 16, 2013

Some Irish crime writers on St. Patrick's Day

I've been in touch with some of my Irish crime writing friends. It transpires that this St. Patrick's Day carry-on has something to do with Ireland, and that a few of them have some thoughts on the matter. First up is Anthony Quinn, author of Disappeared, with sobering, wistful thoughts on America's crapulous celebration of Ireland's patron saint. His essay is called "Green WIth Envy," and here's a sample:
"On March 17, every US city seemed to want to subject the saint’s day to a proper patriotic blowout, an annual invitation to a feast of green, white and gold, that, as a child growing up during the Troubles, I yearned to accept. However, in the 1970s and 80s, Northern Ireland was a world away from Boston, Chicago or New York. In the border towns of my youth, wearing green made you a target for loyalist death squads, while waving a tricolour was an act of rebellion that could lead to internment without trial. 
"For the children of my generation, March 17 was a religious festival blighted by bad weather, a solemn event from which all sense of pleasure or celebration was firmly excluded."
Read the rest on the Mysterious Press Web site. Quinn's essay devotes space to Denis Donaldson, the activist, informer, and haunted figure who was an inspiration for a haunted central character in Disappeared.

Next up is Carrickfergus' own Adrian McKinty, who writes: "If you want to call yourself Irish then be my guest ... and if that Irishness manifests itself in drinking German beer that has been dyed green, well that's fine with me too." Just don't wear a four-leaf clover and call it a shamrock.

Finally, Declan Burke marks the day with a list of fine Irish crime novels of the last five years, a list to which you should add Burke's own Absolute Zero Cool and Slaughter's Hound.
Irish fact of the day: Barry Fitzgerald was Protestant! Now, I'm off to read from The Oxford History of Ireland. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Blogger Unknown said...

I spent some time last week reading about the history of England (and its relationship with Ireland [and Scotland and Wales]) as a way of better understanding the Elizabethan era and Shakespeare.

No matter how you spin it, England comes off as an obnoxious piece of work. If I were Irish, I cannot imagine being fond of anything English. Yeah, I hold grudges for a long, long time.

As I am of Welsh ancestry, I am somewhat less hostile to the English, but only slightly less.

In any case, for whatever it might be worth, have a wonderful 3/17.

March 16, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And the same to you. You might take some consolation in my having read today that some of the big shots in Ireland in the middle ages were Cambro-Norman.

Shakespeare's time coincided with the Plantations, which seem, to this casual and not terribly well-informed reader/observer, to be the real root of Ireland's problems. And let me wish you a two-weeks-late St. David's Day.

March 16, 2013  
Blogger Unknown said...

From Wikipedia, I offer this snippet about an obnoxious anti-Irish snob: "In 1596 Spenser wrote a prose pamphlet titled, A View of the Present State of Ireland. This piece, in the form of a dialogue, circulated in manuscript, remaining unpublished until the mid-seventeenth century. It is probable that it was kept out of print during the author's lifetime because of its inflammatory content. The pamphlet argued that Ireland would never be totally 'pacified' by the English until its indigenous language and customs had been destroyed, if necessary by violence."

I knew there was a reason that I never warmed up to The Faerie Queen.

Yes, the plantation "experiment" was a huge mistake.

The Brits also have dirty hands in the slave trade of the 16th century. The closer I look at the Brits and the Tudors, the more annoyed I become with the dirty not-so-little secrets that revisionist historians have so carefully hidden over the past few centuries.

Still, though, I remain fond of Shakespeare--but he does have some irksome issues with anyone who is is not white and male and Christian; the notable exception is his occasional, wonderful treatment of women in the plays.

March 16, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

That Quinn essay was excellent. I had heard of him before, both here and at Declan's blog, but I want to read Disappeared even more now.

I do have a lot Irish in me, but St. Patrick's Day always seemed like an all inclusive holiday here. The only credential was that you'd better wear green. And the only time politics ever came into it in grade school was when one of my classmates showed up instead in orange and had to explain why. It was probably embarrassing forher, but I don't remember anybody being mean about it, just slightly baffled.

March 16, 2013  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...


Thank you very much for the nod!

Although of course I'm a little more cynical about the St Patricks Day "experience".

V word = srpent! (you cant make this up)

March 16, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I recently read something, I can't remember where, about Spenser's active and unsavory role in Ireland.

What's that old saying about not being able to make an imperial omelette without breaking a few colonial eggs?

March 16, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, did that poor classmate take the opportunity to explain why the Irish flag as green on one side, orange on the other, with white for peace in the middle?

Keep Quinn's remarks about Denis Donaldson in mind when you read Disappeared.

March 16, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian: No serpents in Ireland anymore but you got one in Australia! That's one for the v-word Hall of Fame and Museum for sure.

Do you mean your St. Patrick's Day experience at home, or in the U.S.? I have often repeated your story about explaining to customers why you would not prepare and serve a "car bomb."

Right: Two different views of the St. Patrick'sw Day experience. You know that one reason I find Ireland an interesting country is thatits history is so much more complex than what we get here. I was not in Ireland for a half-hour before I learned that there had been such things as Irish-speaking Protestant nationalists, about the murderous splits among Irish revolutionaries, about the Old English (Hmm, did the Seanghaill lend their name to the Shankhill Road?)

My favorite taste of the St. Patrick's Day experience in Philadelphia today has been an angry young man shouting into his phone that "I dropped my phone in the fucking sewer, OK? I'm heading for Drinker's."

That latter is the name of a bar none too subtle about the sort of clientele it appeals to. I'd like to open a cheaper, louder place next door called Puker's.

March 16, 2013  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I realize it's not politically correct to like it, but we watched, and loved, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in John Ford's The Quiet Man for the umpteenth time yesterday.

March 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And I recently watched and enjoyed John Wayne in "El Dorado" and the Protestant Barry Fitzgerald as a Catholic priest in "Union Station." One could make a handsome living sociologizing about the Irish if one were paid by the word.

March 18, 2013  

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