I know this time of every year is termed the Silly Season in our media business, and usually with good cause too, but dammit over here this Silly Season is by far and away the craziest I have ever experienced.
I refer, of course, to the Garth Brooks affair which is still rumbling away on top of the headlines both nationally and internationally as I write.
Old hacks like myself would often say that slight stories which would not make Page 7 in the depths of winter often got "legs" and would run forever across the front pages during the Silly Season. This is usually because the holiday season closes down the areas of politics and business and commerce which normally generate the stories that really matter.
The vacuum in most Silly Seasons is normally filled by extensive reporting of boring literary summer schools of one kind or another, or saturation coverage of the disasters of nature such as the beaching of a pod of pilot whales in North Donegal last week.
But this year along arrives the Garth Brooks fiasco, and everything is really crazy and out of proportion because all the media (including even my dear editor Debbie McGoldrick) go out over the top with the same ferocity as the first soldiers tore into the No Man’s Land of the Great War exactly a century ago. Grotesque and bizarre and quite frightening as the late Charlie Haughey might have remarked.
I won't go into all the detail that ye have read and witnessed on your TV screens many times already, but it is incredible that the issue of the cancelled concerts by the singing star has even been debated in the Dail (Parliament) and the highest courts of the land, that there has even been a call from somebody that President Obama should be asked to intervene.
The impression has gone forth that Ireland's international reputation has been ruined because Garth Brooks was not permitted to play his five concerts in Croke Park at the end of the month. That is Silly Season rubbish.
The Irish have always had what I would call a strong weakness for American country music all my lifetime. You can go back through the decades to the yodeling Slim Whitman and his China Doll and to the hugely popular Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton and others.
I think the popularity may be connected to the fact that the best of country music, like our own ballads, boasts strongly defined story lines of love and loss and longing. Also because the beat was lively to dance to in the big ballrooms of the past.
Brooks is a mighty performer in his field, and I have liked many of his hits and it is understandable that his fan base here is gravely disappointed the concerts have (as of now in a developing situation) been cancelled.
But to say that the country's reputation has been damaged almost beyond recall by the cancellation is pushing out the boat much too far altogether.
You see, there was some point where Brooks actually delivered an ultimatum to this democratic nation. He said he would play five concerts or none.
The musical cowboy effectively drew his six-gun and pointed it at our authorities right up to government level. This was real Lone Ranger stuff indeed and, had our powers that be backed down then truly the reputation of Ireland would be irredeemably damaged. That is a fact beyond all doubt.
The truth is that the concert promoters made errors, the Croke Park authorities made errors, the local residents around Croke Park exercised their democratic right to protest against broken promises in relation to the number of concerts permitted in their area annually, and in the end it appears they have won.
In my view there is something wholesome about that. You can triumph even when you do not have that many friends in high places.
In conclusion to this Silly Season yarn, I would like ye to read and enjoy a parody of that Brooks hit penned instantly yesterday in a few hours by my balladeer/ songwriter neighbor Sean O'Ceallacain.
Sean, incidentally, is a Dubliner who was born and raised not too far away at all from Croke Park so he understands the situation very well and very humorously too.
Ye all know the air to this one so ye can give it a blast this very night!
Blame it all on the locals
Behaving like yokels
Ruined my 5 show affair
A bit of a choker no shows now in Croker
So I'm off to the cliffs down in Clare
Doolin and Moher, where the ocean does roar
And the air it is fresh and is free
And all of the tourists from all round the world
Will surely welcome me
Oh I've got friends in high places
On the Cliffs of Moher where the sea races
Wild Atlantic Way
All will be okay
So cancel the Rose and the Galway Races
The All-Ireland finals just to see the faces on the GAA, no friends in high places
I'd still go along
And sing an oul' song
In Lisdoon or Galway Bay
Might just hop on my plane
And head up to Slane
Cos The Lord there will let my band play
I'm not one to jest
I'd rather the west
'Cos the Dubs cause me to despair
So I'm heading to Shannon in my private jet
And I'm gonna play down in Clare
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