The national embarrassment that is RTE's Greatest Irish Person Ever list (which I wrote about here) continues to baffle and enrage. The voting has closed, and the five who will have TV programmes made about them have been selected, but RTE have put up the top ten names to maintain a certain level of mystery. And here are the luminaries (in alphabetical order): Bono (a pompous rock star who lectures governments on donating some of their tax revenue towards poorer countries, while his wealthy rock group is based in Holland to avoid paying Irish tax); Noel Browne (an interesting politician who was very controversial but didn't actually achieve a whole lot in comparison to, say, Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stuart Parnell, or Eamonn de Valera); Michael Collins (one of the founders of the modern Irish state and a man who actually deserves to be on the list); James Connolly (a Marxist revolutionary whose importance cannot be denied, whether you agree or not as to the morality of his actions); Stephen Gately (a vapid and inconsequential figure of no importance whatsoever); John Hume (a Nobel Prize winning Northern politician who deserves a place on this list); Phil Lynott (an entertaining but inconsequential rock musician); Padraig Pearse (an ultra-Catholic revolutionary whose importance cannot be denied, whether you agree or not as to the morality of his actions); Mary Robinson (an interesting politician who did achieve a lot for women in Ireland, but who is not as significant as, say, Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stuart Parnell, or Eamonn de Valera); Adi Roche (a token woman included in an attempt to avoid the charge of gross sexism, and a figure of no major importance in the greater scheme of things, commendable though her Chernobyl work is. The fact that a wealthy philanthropist is chosen over all other female candidates bar one (a brief selection: revolutionaries Maud Gonne, Mary McSwiney and Constance Markievicz, cultural icon Lady Augusta Gregory, writer Kate O'Brien, actress Maureen O'Hara, opera singers Catherine Hayes or Margaret Burke Sheridan, peace activists Mairead Corrigan and Betty William, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, or Rosemary Nelson, a human rights lawyer killed by loyalist paramilitaries in 1999) says something about our priorities). So that's Ireland's greatest figures from nearly 2,000 tears of recorded history, as presented by our national broadcaster. No writers, artists, or scientists. Some of our most significant historical figures absent. Not a single figure that died before 1900. Only two women. Only four figures that actually deserve to be on it. Here's a really good song (one of my favourites, actually) whose title just sums it all up.
14 hours ago