It annoys me intensely that Tommy Tiernan writes for the Sunday Independent. Among comics of his generation I think he is alone, in that his brilliance on the stage transfers seamlessly to the page.
If you’re from Ordinary Man Ireland buying the Sunday Independent is not an easy proposition. Filled as it is, wall to wall with magazines and beauty sections and Living. I literally have a 5 minute internal debate every Sunday and as I have hit my 40’s this debate is unconsciously becoming an external debate. A soft muttering even…
‘No don’t do it….you know you won’t respect yourself in an hour….go on… spend the money on a breakfast roll instead….much healthier’
I used to win this argument 50% percent of the time. Since Tommy started his philosophical ramblings in the Living magazine i am losing it 100% of the time.
It was a simple argument. There were only 3 reasons to buy the Sindo
- Paul Kimmage
- Joe Brolly
- Eoghan Harris
Now Tommy Tiernan has come along and fucked all that up. Tipped the scales back in favour of Denis O’Brien.
Men of a certain vintage like myself feel a certain pride and ownership of Tommy Tiernan. He was one of the local celebrities knocking around Galway when a lot of us were in UCG or the RTC in the early to late 90’s. If that sounds a tad long to be doing an Arts degree – well let’s just say – it was all the rage at the time.
Spending five or six years knocking around Galway was a grand, gentle introduction to adulthood, especially when all that was waiting for you beyond the tribal walls was a boat to London. In many ways Tommy Tiernan and creatives of his ilk distracted us from the howling winds of reality blowing in off the Atlantic.
When I look back now I can see that Galway then was a city full of Genii on the Dole. Tommy and Luke Ming Flanagan MEP spring most readily to mind, But there were many others, writers, poets , singers, songwriters and swarthy Aran Islanders. It’s funny, I see them now, as the American Tourists we laughed at, saw them back then. Other-worldly.
Ming of course was known rather extravagantly at the time as Ming the Merciless. I have it in my mind that he ran for Student Union President of UCG one year and got 8 votes. Or maybe that’s just an elaboration of my imagination over the years. At any rate it didn’t damage his anti-hero appeal. Then or now.
It was around this time that the Comedy Scene started in Ireland. Properly. I don’t believe I am exaggerating to say that. A generation of Irish Comics seemed to just erupt across the country at the very same time. Most of them are still around today just to emphasise the point.
In Galway, It was as if The River Corrib started Spitting out Comedians along with Salmon on the Salmon Weir Bridge.
I am pretty sure at around this time I saw Tommy Tiernan, Daire O’Brien and a very young Des Bishop on the same night for the princely sum of 5 pounds.
Of course good things never last forever. In 1997 the whole country turned on a sixpence. By 1998 we all had jobs and bid farewell to the GPO on Eglinton Street (both the nightclub and the Post Office) and Tuesday afternoon snooker sessions over a haze of blue smoke. Mullhollands bookie office. Had I spent enough time absorbing the wisdom of three different generations of alcoholic in Taaffes and Naughtons to be going out into the world on my own?
Most of us over the years have always checked in on the Story of Tommy from afar. Amazed by the longevity of it as much as anything. He became a cultural reference point for Westerner’s like Sharon Shannon and the Saw Doctors. A piece of the past we insist on carrying with us through life. In case we forget what genius looks like. The earthy waft of it. The madness of it. Our own kind of magic elixir to carry in a vial around our necks. Drink in case of emergency.
Last week I opened the Sunday Independent to find a quite long and serious article about a 69 year old Dutch Man who was quite determinedly going to court because he ‘identifies with being a 49 year old’ feeling that his age was an impediment to his romantic aspirations. I cursed myself once again for buying a paper that would print this shit. The impertinence of Age eh…
However once i calmed down and In the spirit of openness , i think i will start identifying with a different age too. The age of Galway in 1994, when everyday genius strolled languidly down Shop St and no-one gave a fuck about the passage of time.