This week, the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern addressed the Joint Houses of Congress in Washington, D.C. The event didn't seem to have been widely reported in the US press except for one article in The Boston Globe, naturally enough:
"Yesterday, Ahern spoke to a joint session of Congress. It was a long way from Drumcondra, his neighborhood on Dublin's gritty Northside...
After 11 years as taoiseach - it's pronounced tee-shock, and it means chief in Irish - Ahern is stepping down Tuesday. Questions about his personal finances forced him to leave sooner than he wanted. But to describe him as corrupt, as some of his critics have, is cynical and wrong...
"Do not underestimate the good you have done," he told Congress. "Do not forget the legacy you have forged. And if ever you doubt America's place in the world or hesitate about your power to influence events for the better, look to Ireland."
As they'd say on the Northside, where the H's are silent but nobody else is, "T'anks, Bertie. T'anks for everyt'ing."
He also announced that "Ireland is at peace" which, while true in a nationalist/republican dimension, doesn't go down too well with people of a more left-wing dispositon who regard little things such as income inequality, pockets of gangland crime and - of course - dodgy politicians as evidence that Ireland isn't actually the utopia that De (very-soon-not-to-be) Leader might think. But anyway, here's a video from the 'gritty' Northside.
A Lazarus Soul is a Dublin band who put out their debut album Graveyard of Burnt Out Cars in 2006. Their sound is on a kind of post-punk, Joy Division dimension with lyrics of social realism and, more importantly, very strong songwriting. Particularly in the vocals, they remind me of one of the very first Irish bands that really stood out for me, the mysterious Sack. This song, the first on the album, 'Icon' is nowhere near the strongest of the set but still kicks off the record in style. The title track is mesmerising in its lyrics and its conveyance of youthful not-quite-nostalgia; and the single which made me aware of the band, 'The Day I Disappeared', also got made an object of controversy when a politician - who else - misinterpreted its reference to an infamous Irish criminal.
This band was meant to be on the bill for Fight Like Apes' New Year's Eve show in the Village, but had to drop out and were replaced serendipitously by Betamax Format. Now they are supporting Ham Sandwich on May 24th, and it's all getting very scene-y.
This video for 'Icon' is set in the Ballymun flats on Dublin's Northside (think of them as 'projects' - which they were, fairly disastrously so). The video is quite cleverly filmed, with the stop-motion animation of abandoned furniture - and the seemingly alive mattresses which freak me out a little.