That Keith Richards has really let himself go, hasn’t he?
Quizmistress Anne Robinson: Which Mick is the lead singer of the Rolling Stones?
Idiot English Contestant: Is it Bono?
Those for whom Irish music is epitomized by the seisiún or the céilí, featuring a bodhrán player, a guitarist, a fiddler, a tin whistler and Shane MacGowan, will be surprised to know that most of the components of the traditional arrangements can locate their origins in the Iberian peninsula, with the exception of Shane MacGowan, who is as English as Pontefract Cakes and anal sex. You only have to look at his teeth for proof. The guitar, of course, everyone knows is Spanish; it was originally called the Spanish guitar, but this title eventually came to be regarded as a tautology because there was no other kind of guitar, the much-inferior banjo and ukulele being invented much later by slaves in America and Hawaii working in sweat shops making knock-offs. The fiddle is a cheaper version of the violin, usually associated with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Northern Italy but so clearly related to the guitar in design that a good case can be made that they plagiarised it but never saw one being played and so improvised, using a modified horsewhip. The tin whistle or flageolet was invented by a Frenchman, Juvigny, in the late 16th century, of which nothing can be gainsaid except that although he lived in Paris he always wanted to live in Madrid, like all Parisians of his own and our age. The bodhrán, similarly, is a cheap imitation of the tamborine, this word being a corruption of the Spanish word Tambor, meaning drum. Here you can see the Tambores de Calanda, which are played non-stop for 24 hours a day during Holy Week, regardless of whether the drummers’ hands bleed, get blisters and calluses on their palms, or get splinters from the drumsticks in their eyes, mouth and/or ears. They do this because to commemorate the fact that there were drummers following Jesus up to Calvary and because when they pushed away the stone from his tomb there was a massive drumroll from the skies. And then a cymbal. The only genuine and definite Irish musical instrument is the harp, which was invented by the blind Irish harpist O’Carolan (although he was not called this until after he invented the harp), and even then he didn’t know what it was he was playing.
I was very keen to get to Wexford on my journey around Ireland because much of the archaeological and historical evidence indicates that it was here that Ireland’s musical heritage began. It was here that Saint Iberius established his church, long before Saint Patrick ever arrived on the island (there is no record of Patrick bringing any musical instruments with him, although he may have driven the snakes out of Ireland with his awful tin whistle playing, the first snake uncharmer). Saint Iberius, who obviously came from Spain, lived on the island of Beggerin in Wexford harbour. He drew many disciples to his modest church, mainly wanting to learn to play the guitar or the organ. There wasn’t much to do in Wexford in those days. We know from the story of another saint, Saint Veoc, that in those days it was a desolate, barren place, qualities that drew Veoc there from Armagh in the hope of a hermitic existence. Imagine his disappointment at finding the place full of spotty novices learning the first chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Sadly, Saint Iberius’s home has now disappeared. I was advised by the lady in the Tourist Information Office with the square glasses and peppery hair that the island had become part of the Sloblands, which I assumed was simply a reference to the local council estate, but which turned out to be reclaimed polder land like they have in Holland, so that the island had been rejoined to the mainland. The lady in the Tourist Office also told me that I would need to get a licence from the council if I wanted to start digging there for the fossils of guitars or bodhráns, and she rather ignorantly opined that there were not likely to be any there after all these years. Which shows how little she knows about Creationism. In the same way that our Good Lord placed cenobites, Tyrannosauruses, saber-toothed tigers, and David Blaine in blocks of ice or inside coal mines to be discovered by humans as a test of faith, and also patience, so also he would preserve all the many important holy relics for worship by the faithful, rendering them incorrupted by the ages, the air, the bird poo, and science, like those dead nuns trapped in glass in the rue du Bac.
It so happened that this part of my tour coincided with a significant musical event in the history of Ireland, namely, the victory in the Eurovision Song Contest of the retarded Siamese twins Jedward, who you may have seen on the television being separated at birth by famous surgeons who also warned their parents that they would never be able to talk properly, let alone sing. Nonetheless, the Irish elected to be represented in the contest by Jedward as a way of sticking up a metaphorical two fingers, both identical, at the Europe that is demanding that they all work harder and also have no jobs. This is not the first time that Ireland has demonstrated such petulance, of course. Only the other year they sent Dustin from Turkey, who wasn’t even Irish, and in previous years they have sent Mary Hopkirk, Johnny Rogaine, Dickie Rock, and Mary Peters and Lee. None of these did the Irish reputation for mellifluous Euterpian prowess any favours, and it was partly in response to watching these performances on European TV that the False Pope, Benedict, decided to ban rock and roll and support the call for the return to the Latin Mass, sung a cappella, with nary an amp in sight. This was a pope who booed at Bob Dillon when he plugged in his electric chair at Newport, Isle of Wight, in 1954 and began singing along to the godawful racket that came out. Then he turned it off and everyone realized the godawful racket had nothing to do with the electric.
Although from an Irish background, Dillon has never had the opportunity to represent Ireland at the Eurovision, and with him recently reaching the age of 70 and having been senile for the past 30 years, it doesn’t look like he will ever have the chance to perform any of his classic tracks-“Wichita Grub Man,” “The Times, They Are a Changeling,” “I’m the Rolling Stones,” and “Mister Tamberlaine Man” (he was also the inspiration for the well-known Beatles song “Hey Jew”-before an unappreciative audience of millions. It may come as some consolation to him to have been awarded only a year or two ago the Prince of Asturias Art Award (previous winners include Yo-Yo Ma, Elvis Presley, and Hitler), which recognizes rich celebrities who have done something vaguely artistic, such as commodifying protest songs, but I suspect he would much rather compete against Ukrainian Death Metal Yodellers, prancing puppets on strings like Jedward, and the German S Club 7. Any true artiste would want to show he could cut it with the best. I know that he was massively disappointed not to be invited to Princess Diana’s funeral, where all the biggest names in the industry appeared on the largest stage of all-The Abbey-to show what they could do. Elton John sang his famous song hit “Candle with the Wind,” which went straight to number one in the hit parade subsequently because the English people love funeral dirges and play them at all their parties. Then he followed up with “Rocket Man” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” After that, blackface singer Tracy Chapman came on and sang “Fast Car,” followed by the Animals, who sang “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” And finally Joe Dolce came on and closed with “Shaddap You Face” followed by a selection from his album Difficult Women. Dillon would have loved to have come on at that point and given a rousing rendition of “It’s Alright Ma’am, I’m Only Bleeding,” but apparently the Abbey was booked for a christening at six and the toilets needed hosing down.
I have not touched here, on my favourite Irish musician, who hails from a very different part of this pious land, but it would remiss of me not to mention a man who has contributed more to drawing the Irish people closer to the one true path through the medium of music than any fake messiah in sunglasses dodging taxes and swanning about with world leaders. This man, like Our Lord Jesus, knows what it is to be reviled, to be persecuted, to be mocked and laughed at and scorned for daring to speak the truth. He is thus a modern-day Cassandra, warning of catastrophe but never to be believed. And yet he persists. Indeed, only last year Jim Corr announced on the radio that he would, if necessary, stand for election for the European Union in order to save Ireland from the Freemasons. The government of Ireland, he warned, is riddled with secret societies, such as the Masons, the Rosicrucians, the Mormons, the Pretenders, the Persuaders, and the Champions, and that these societies are determined to sell Ireland’s birthright to the highest bidder, probably Noel Eedmonds. He would not allow this, he said. He would do everything in his special super powers to stop it. He also made the very interesting and novel observation that the attacks of 9/11 in the United States were caused by rogue elephants in the Bush administration, a claim I had not heard made before.
Much as I admire the man, I believe his perspective on how the world works is nonetheless a little cock-eyed (an Irish expression which means he views the world through the eye of his cock, much like my randy brother Hornolo). It is not the Irish government that is the enemy, but the Illuminati in Europe, the bankers and cabals running the Masonic European state. Indeed, this is so obvious to any right-thinking Irish man that it makes me wonder whether or not Jim Corr is not in fact a false flag operation, a cleverly cultivated plant intended to discredit sensible fascist views with his bizarre rantings. His cloned sisters certainly suggest some kind of perverse scheme dreamt up by an insane Communist scientist in a Berlin atelier or Übungsräume. It is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Still, a partially accurate paranoid right-wing neo-fascist conspiracy theory is better than none. And in days like these, when you don’t even hear the likes of aryan ubermenschen Jedward demanding that the elderly and disabled be euthanized, it’s necessary to find solace where one can. Just don’t listen to their music.
Famous people from Wexford include American “comedian” Des Bishop, monobrowed narcissist Chris de Burgh, founder of Irish music Saint Iberius (see above), and U.S. president Barack Obama. Although there is some dispute about this.
Lucky numbers: 0
Next week: County Waterford