Shearing the Sheep and the Blood Sacrifice


Chicago’s Irish American News, October 2017


It’s probably just another sad example of my irredeemably perverse sense of humour, but one of the most amusing images I’ve come across recently is in a comic book where a panel depicts the Big Fella getting a kick in the goolies.

I’ll get back to Michael Collins in a moment, though.

As amusing as that is, I’ve been deriving almost as much enjoyment from the weasel-like behaviour of those who are rubbing their hands at the thought of getting back the money that they docilely and cravenly handed over to the now thoroughly discredited Irish Water.  Those of us who fought long and hard against the lunatic idea of paying for water more than once – and in a setup that would lead to the ultimate privatization of our water resources – can only smile as we watch those who denigrated us now falling over each other to be the first with the hand out.

I’m not talking about people who were blackmailed into paying because they were in the process of selling their house; or the elderly who were terrified by threats from a swinish and unscrupulous government.  One example of that, by the by, was the contemptible (and unworkable) threat that their water supply would be ‘reduced to a trickle’, this being delivered by that thuggish lout, Phil Hogan – remember Phil, the minister for the environment who gave the managing director’s job to John Tierney?  And this of course would be the very same John Tierney who last year was paid a total of €655,000 in salary, severance and pension.  As always with politicians and their cronies it’s damned nice work if you can get it.

Anyway… I’m speaking of people like an acquaintance of mine – to accentuate his blushes, let’s use his real name of Paddy — who told me time after time over the past few years that paying these gougers was the correct thing to do, the right thing to do; that the money was needed to repair the water infrastructure.

Of course, this was ignoring the point that the money that should have been going to just such work has been getting willfully misdirected for decades.

I pretended shock when he said how much he was looking forward to getting his loot refunded.  Surely, I asked, if handing the money over to our chancers was the correct thing to do for the country in the first place, then the right thing to do now would be to let those same chancers hold onto it?  To help out the poor auld infrastructure, like.

Not a bit of it.  In fact, with a bewilderingly smug look, he said:  “Ye’ll be paying for it one way or another.”  Baffling.

Paddy will actually be happy to see the government continue with its goal of attempting to privatize water so long as he doesn’t have to say a great big THANKS to those of us who are responsible for getting him his money back!  And, by the by, we had better get used to stories from our tame media on how we have to cough up if we don’t want to see parts of the country being left without their water, which is beginning to happen with a very suspicious regularity.

With people like Paddy around, no wonder the government continues to take us for complete saps.  Some folk just enjoy being sheep.  And sheep always get sheared.

*****             *****             *****

Sometimes you come across things that halt you in your tracks; and they are just hiding in the oddest places.

Now, I believe that the comic book is a legitimate art form, so no apologies there.  In fact, a few months ago I merrily recommended a wonderful graphic novel called Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl Ballads by Nick Hayes.  I might do the same for Jack Jackson’s story of Juan Seguin and the Texas-Mexicans in Los Tejanos.

I wouldn’t dare to do the same for Preacher by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, though.  This is one of those that you’ll either like or utterly hate.  And I’m behind the times, anyway:  these collections hark back to the 90s and I didn’t even know that there was a TV series adapted from them.

They are incredibly violent; foul-mouthed; sexually explicit…oh yeah, and blasphemous in the bargain.  They’re also weirdly funny and addictive.

Even so, I had decided that the two volumes I had borrowed (thanks, Shane) were enough…and then I read the last two chapters of Book 2.  And it just got even weirder.

They give you the backstory to Cassidy, one of the main characters; and lo and behold, I’ll be damned if he doesn’t have his origin with the 1916 Easter Rising.

This is a hell of an interesting take on it, mind.

Cassidy and his brother Billy overhear a Republican officer telling Pearse not to be quoting his own plays whilst shelling and mayhem go on around them; but Pearse tells him that he is missing the point:

“The blood sacrifice I have spoken of again and again… that is us.  Because of our glorious deaths, Easter week 1916 will live forever in the minds of the Irish people.  It will be the beginning of the end for English tyranny.  In the words of W. B. Yeats, who foresaw all of this:  a terrible beauty is born.”

Well, I’ve on several occasions also mentioned this Celtic love of the Blood Sacrifice…but, well, when you see it put like that….

One swift kick in the nuts to Collins later and the boys are deserters, with Billy obviously not having been too impressed with it all at any rate:

“Years from now they can look back at this mess from a safe distance, an’ start putting words like revolution an’ tyranny an’ glory in the history books…

“Since when was yer man Pearse in charge’ve the Irish Volunteers?  I thought it was Eoin MacNeill… An’ I thought the point was in case the English went back on promisin’ home rule, not to have a war in the middle’ve Dublin.”

As to Pearse in front of the Post Office, reading the Proclamation – again, not impressed:

“That should tell you somethin’ straight away.  Wasn’t he great, wearin’ his important uniform an’ makin’ his big speech?  Just cryin’ out for his place in history.  People like that are dangerous.  They get yeh killed. Fellas like Pearse, who go on about blood sacrifices, an’ glory an’ beauty in fighting…?  Well, they’re the ones yeh fuckin’ shoot first.”

Of course, this is a responsible column that would never advocate such drastic measures.  I pass this on only to satisfy those out there who may not have found something to be offended by today.

We aim to please.