Big Little Lies review: What happens when life as a pressurised performance blows up

The couples therapist who intervenes to shake Nicole Kidman’s trapped Celeste out of her own desperate rationalising – that her abusive relationship with Alexander Skarsgard’s Perry is either a kind of sexual game, or an inescapable cycle, deftly concealed – could be speaking about any of the characters when she sees “profound self-awareness under the hard shell of denial”. First disturbing a dreamy sea-green fantasy of the California coast with a murder investigation, then doubling back to a kindergarten bullying incident that became a proxy war for wound-up parents, HBO’s drama never dropped the sly role-reversal of its premise. Director Jean-Marc Vallée works in careful details, bringing the ominous crash of waves into otherwise familiar domestic scenes, while affluent delusions are steadily eroded with arch gestures (a teenage girl auctioning her virginity online for Amnesty International), freighted private glances and sometimes forcible intervention. (That her energies are invested in bringing Avenue Q, a puppet show for grown-ups, to town is also telling.) Laura Dern’s corporate CEO Renata is hardly less susceptible to the politics of display, though, as concerned as anyone else about maintaining an appearance worthy of all these immaculate kitchens and walk-in wardrobes. In the show’s earlier episodes, it was was tempting to dismiss their squabbles and the show as something befitting the playground. When the parents arrive to the school’s dress-up night for the series finale, either in Holly Golightly’s pearls or the King’s Hawaiian lei (childish fantasies of adulthood each), they barely seem able to pull off such roles. But David E Kelley’s drama, based on the book by Liane Moriarty, is concerned, more compassionately, with far more damaging self-delusions. Here, kids would behave with preternatural maturity, voicing reason and exasperation, while adults built infantile grievances and jealousies into a towering pyre. (Or, at least, I did.) But it repays closer attention. Take Jane, alternately nervy and steely in Shailene Woodley’s absorbing performance. Characters here are at their most compelling when they were at their most contradictory, believably aware of damaging patterns and tragically unable to break them. “Trust me,” glowers one neighbour, “these women are vicious.” But trust ultimately slays more beasts. What started as a mordant joke, though, darkened into something more troubling: that children learn their behaviour from woeful example. Slumping away from countless testimonies, one frustrated detective finally commands: “Turn it off. She can say of her rapist: “I still hope that …

Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living wins Wellcome Book Prize

Mend the Living was chosen as the winner of the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize from a shortlist of six books: How to Survive a Plague by David France, When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss, The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee and I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong. It is the second time a novel has been recognised in the prize’s history. Over 24 hours we travel from trauma to hope, discovering both the humane aspect of organ donation and the internal dramas of those affected by it. As Mend the Living is a novel in translation, the prize money will be divided with two thirds awarded to the author and one third to the translator. The judging panel praised de Kerangal’s beautiful style in this exploration of the emotional, physical and practical complexities of organ donation, reflecting the fragility and fluidity of life. Eileen Battersby, reviewing it for The Irish Times in February last year, wrote: “French original Maylis de Kerangal’s fifth novel, which takes its title from a line of dialogue in Chekhov’s Platonov, consolidates the audacity displayed in Birth of a Bridge (2010), which was published last year in an excellent translation also by Canadian poet and song writer Jessica Moore. De Kerangal is the first French author to win the prestigious prize, which celebrates exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction that engage with the topics of health and medicine and the many ways they touch our lives. Val McDermid commented: “Mend the Living is a metaphorical and lyrical exploration of the journey of one heart and two bodies. This year’s chair of judges, Val McDermid, made the announcement at an award ceremony at Wellcome Collection, London. Concentrated across the span of a single day, Mend the Living is a heart-breaking and gripping story of life-saving medical science: a 24-hour whirlwind of trauma and death, life and hope. Mend the Living examines the emotive subject of organ donation. It tells the story of Simon Limbeau’s heart, from the car accident that leaves him brain-dead and on life support, to the moment when Simon’s heart begins to beat again in the body of someone else. Mend the Living is the first novel in translation to be awarded the £30,000 prize, translated from French into English by the Canadian translator Jessica Moore. The film was praised by Guy Lodge at Variety for blending “dazzling …

Aosdána criticises Arts Council’s ‘manifestly unfair’ plans

Mr Pye, an 88-year-old artist with fading sight and restricted mobility, was told by the Arts Council at the end of last month that his cnuas, the € 17,180 Aosdána stipend, was to be discontinued. Its 250 members include writers Edna O’Brien and Patrick McCabe and playwrights Tom Murphy and Tom MacIntyre. At a lengthy private session of its annual general assembly yesterday in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the affiliation of creative artists debated what it described as “the crisis created by the Arts Council’s review document” and the treatment of one of its founder members, the painter Patrick Pye. “Today the general assembly unanimously committed Aosdána to that mission and reached out to the Arts Council,” it said. Failing to consult While members leaving the meeting were reluctant to comment individually, a statement released on behalf of Aosdána said its members had unanimously agreed that, by failing to consult, the council had made proposals which were “manifestly unfair and, if accepted, could damage the organisation and deprive other old and ill members of their livelihood, as has happened in Mr Pye’s case”. “Many of our members have given up well-paid employment in order to continue to make their contribution to the culture of our country,” it stated, calling for a restoration of a relationship of trust and co-operation between the two bodies. Last November, the Arts Council, which funds and administers Aosdána, issued a confidential draft discussion document to the organisation’s elected committee, the Toscaireacht, on possible changes to the cnuas and to other structures, describing it as the first step in a “long and open discussion process”. The meeting agreed that it was vital to establish in the public’s awareness that in order to receive a cnuas, members had to devote themselves full time to their art. Aosdána was established in 1981 by then taoiseach Charles Haughey. The document, which suggested changing the definition of those eligible for funding from “full-time practising artist” to “working artists engaged in productive practice”, was condemned by writer Colm Tóibín last week as being reminiscent of the Soviet Union or North Korea. Aosdána has criticised the Arts Council for failing to consult properly with it on proposed changes to its members’ funding. Visual artist Eddie Kennedy, film-maker and visual artist Trish McAdam, writer Rosaleen McDonagh, writer Gerry Murphy, visual artist Niamh O’Malley, choreographer Fiona Quilligan and visual artist Anne Tallentire were elected …

This week’s must-see TV: From Bear Grylls to Body Shopping

You want some hair-raising stories of on-the-road excess and exegesis? Three words: Can’t. You’ll need to be blooming good at gardening to get a look-in with the judges, Bloom show manager Gary Graham, Bloom gold medallist Leonie Cornelius and garden design lecturer Monica Alverez. Arsed. Dr Ciara Kelly is your guide on this trip into the world of surgically enhanced beauty. The Island with Bear Grylls Monday, Channel 4, 9pm So, who would survive being stranded on a remote desert island, a bunch of fresh-faced youngsters, or a group of experienced older people? They may be bitcoining it with their new video-chat app, but their dysfunctional lives make the nerds from The Big Bang Theory seem positively well-adjusted. The first bean-spiller in the hotseat is Roger Daltrey from The Who. Welcome back to the fourth series of the survival show which does the very simple thing of pitting two generations against each other to see which one can keep from dying of starvation, disease or just plain boredom. It’s not long before they’re running to their elders for help – typical kids, eh? Super Garden Tuesday, RTE One, 8.30pm It’s bad enough when you have to pour zillions into your interior design just to get a nod from RTE (See Home of the Year, below), but now we’re expected to fork out and turn our little patch of scrub into a veritable Garden of Eden. the youngsters (with Grylls, above) made their first mistake by setting up camp in a swamp – not a good idea, especially when it starts raining. Home of the Year Final Thursday, RTE One, 8.30pm If you suffer from house envy, better switch channels, because all you’ll see is green. Brian Johnson’s A Life on the Road with… Friday, Sky Arts, 9pm Want to know what it’s like being a rampant rock‘n’roll star? Quake as the judges pore over every design detail and clever feature you wish you’d put in your pathetic little two-up two-down. It’s time for the final of Home of the Year, when the remaining seven homeowners battle it out to see who’s got the best gaffe. Brian Johnson could tell you. You’ve come to the right place. Body Shopping is a new three-part series looking at the lengths some people go to achieve their ideal look. Silicon Valley Monday, Sky Atlantic, 10.10pm If you want to see the real effect technology …

The stories of Irish deportees from the US in 1800s

In May of the year, discovering Mary’s Irish-born status, Massachusetts officials forcibly sent her to Liverpool with Bridget, who was a native-born US citizen. Liverpool authorities put them on board a ship to Dublin Ann Gray, a native of Co Galway, emigrated to the United States in 1860. During the American Civil War, he enlisted in the Union army. But the New York officials ultimately sent both of them back to Ireland, viewing them as unwanted burdens on American society. Mary Williams gave birth to Bridget in Massachusetts, shortly after landing in New York in 1855. Being banished first from the United States and then from Britain, the Irish migrant poor were indeed stateless people. As I have demonstrated in my recent article, the Irish were in fact the first targets of deportation policy in the United States. Upon finding the lunatic women among arriving passengers, Liverpool authorities put them on board a ship to Dublin under the British poor law, which allowed for the removal of Irish paupers in Britain to Ireland. President Donald Trump’s determination to deport undocumented immigrants has drawn criticism not only from his opponents within the United States but also from the international community. Some deportees experienced “double deportation.” In 1855, Massachusetts officials deported to Liverpool eight female Irish paupers with mental illness. McCarthy tried to claim public relief for himself and his wife on the basis of his American citizenship. If American deportation policy matters to the Irish, that is not only because of undocumented Irish immigrants in America today but also because of the fact that the policy fundamentally originated from anti-Irish nativism, especially economic antipathy to the poverty of the Irish. They told the couple that the wife, who was then blind, should go back to Ireland. Five of the deportees – Anne Arbuthnot, Mary Shiel, Hannah Irvine, Anne Taggart and Mary Sheeby – were found by a Dublin official “wandering about the quay, not knowing what to do or where to go,” and taken to the North Union Dublin Workhouse. Upon arrival in the port of Queenstown in Cork, Massachusetts immigration officials ruthlessly dumped the women on the street without any provisions for self-support, such as money, food, or clothes – a routine practice of the officials. Massachusetts officials almost kidnapped Mary and Bridget Williams from the almshouse without such warrant and shipped them away. And the connection between American immigration policy and the …

George Bernard Shaw’s fight for press freedom

These Ironsides know that it is one thing to fight for your country, and quite another to let your wife and children starve to save our rich idlers from a rise in the supertax”. In late 1916, eight months following the Easter Rising and four months after the Somme, the free press again criticised the government, leading to the resignations of Asquith and foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey. The difficulty begins when… Not quite unwillingly duped, by their Junkers and Militarists of England and Germany jumping at the chance they have longed for in vain for many years of smashing one another and establishing their own oligarchy as the dominant military power in the world”. we have to draw on the solid, skeptical, sensible residuum who know the value of their lives… Shaw anticipated the mindset for negotiating the war’s end: ‘Militarism must not be treated as a disease peculiar to Prussia. To those who believed that the Government must only be supported and not criticised, Shaw wrote: “I must reply that history consists of recrimination, and that I am writing history because an accurate knowledge of what has occurred is not only indispensible to any sort of reasonable behaviour on our part in the face of Europe when the inevitable day of settlement comes, but because it has a practical bearing on the most perilously urgent and immediate business before us; the business of the appeal to the nation for recruits and for enormous sums of money.” Shaw challenged the Government by insisting that the war had to be about more than patriotism given the unprecedented casualties: “We are passing the first phase of the war fever, in which men flock to the colours by instinct, by romantic desire for adventure…. As we contend with the seeming war against the free press that certain American politicians have embarked on, it might be prudent to revisit George Bernard Shaw’s courageous efforts on behalf of the free press in the early months of the Great War. He questioned the Government, including its demonising of Germany. Shaw noted in More Common Sense about the War that this was “a striking example of the power of a democratic press in its legitimate use as the proper antidote to the official secrecy with which Governments hide their misdeeds and shortcomings from the public”. The goal of Shaw’s journalism was to provoke change when change …

Nialler9’s New Irish Music: Róisín O, Talos, Rocstrong, Æ MAK and more

They may find comfort in unity but their strength lies within their individuality.”   As Mix & Fairbanks, the guys have been nailing electronic disco sets and DJ edits and here, they have crafted a perfectly calibrated dance floor track with the DNA of Daft Punk and Todd Terje.   Ailie Blunnie – Beat Of Your Heart A Leitrim singer-songwriter with a debut album on the way, Beat Of Your Heart is a track that moves between bright handclap pop, urgent guitars and piano-lead passages. So far, the two songs from Paddy Hanna along with members of Land Lovers, Ginnels and No Monster Club are conjuring a fresh sound out of well-worn strings. The song was written “ a response to auditory disturbances accompanying migraine episodes.”   ALBUM OF THE WEEK Talos – Wild Alee Since appearing with Tethered Bones, an emotional electronic ballad three years ago, Cork man Eoin French has been refining and developing that style with every release. Now, on his debut album, produced by Ross Dowling, French makes the case that patience is a virtue for building slow-moving anthem-leaning songs flourished largely with guitar, synths and drums. From the onset they appear similar in a white uniform wearing blue masks but their uniformity highlights their differences.   VIDEO OF THE WEEK AE MAK – I Walk Directed by Ellis Grace Aoife McCann and Ellie McMahon’s avant-pop music has been developing with effervescence since 2011. Whopp. Photographer Ellius Grace and set designer Ciara O’Donovan worked on the shoot and central to the video is “a group of women displayed as ornaments, placed decoratively in a set.   Floor Staff – A Love Sublime Anthony Donnelly’s Floor Staff project released the Convictions EP on Friday and it marks a leap in ambition, craft and production. The EP’s first track Choice makes that step clear with its dynamic shifts and big falsetto vocals wrapped up in alt-pop atmospherics. Tethered Bones is the centrepiece of the debut album but its surrounded by equally beautifully-scaped sounds. SONGS OF THE WEEK Róisín O – Warn Me Of Silence As featured as the closing song of RTÉ’s Striking Out in January, Róisín O’s new single continues the musician’s gift for creating grand sweeping modern pop music. Rocstrong will release a song a month for the remainder of 2017.   Mix & Fairbanks – Girls It’s quite a ridiculous thing to realise that Girls …

Teens are cooler than hipsters, says Harry Styles, and he should know

Plenty of critics are saying Lionel Richie, but we hear Tom Tom Club, with a touch of Gwen Stefani couldn’t even. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? Music is something that’s always changing. He told Rolling Stone: “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? If they like you, they’re there.They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you.” TRACK OF THE WEEK Paramore – Hard Times We’ll not waste space explaining the machinations that have led to this line-up of Paramore (bassist Jeremy is gone, and drummer Zac is back). The chorus will make you press repeat before you even get past minute one, and Hayley’s new blonde hair bangs. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. Young girls like The Beatles. Instead, we’ll happily chat about their new new-wavey sound. They’re our future. Hero of the week is Harry Styles, who stood up for his teenage fans. That’s not up to you to say. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. There’s no goal posts. How can you say young girls don’t get it? And I think we don’t really have that agenda any more. Oddly, I think we’re actually in a better place as a band than we’ve ever been. Meanwhile, Lana del Rey had conflicted feelings about enjoying Coachella against the backdrop of world events.”I find it’s a tightrope between being vigilantly observant of everything going on in the world and also having enough space and time to appreciate god’s good earth the way it was intended to be appreciated,” she wrote on instagram. I think in the past this would have pissed us off. “In the past, we’ve made it our mission to shove down people’s throats what we want them to see. You know: ‘It’s us three now, we’re doing so good! It almost makes it less of a big deal because we’re not resisting it so much.” Zero of the week is pretending everything is fine, Hayley Paramore told the Guardian. Not you, but this drudging through it; but I think now it’s, like, cool.

Giselle review: streets fights and cryptic connections in a frantic production

Until April 29 then tours nationally until May 27 Project Arts Centre, Dublin ** Re-telling classics has become big business in the ballet world and is a valid way to engage new audiences. When the sunrise sends the spirits away at the end of Giselle, there is quite often a melancholic sense of sadness that lingers for Giselle and the lover who betrayed her. Yet here choreographer Ludovic Ondiviela sets aside these precedents in favour of a hipper, more urban tale. Ballet Ireland’s new production of Giselle, caught somewhere in choreographic limbo, does neither. Finally Giselle and Albrecht dance a simple, touching duet as a tangerine coloured sky emerges, signalling the night is over. The idea works best when some link remains to the strength of the original or the new version completely turns the original on its head. Ryoko Yagyu in the lead displays versatility and stamina, but as soon as she dies in what appears to be a street fight, the dramatic arc becomes more puzzling. With such incessant movement on a stage already full of crypts, Paul Keogan’s intricate, patterned lighting provides calming relief. Ultimately, Ondiviela’s interpretation of the graveyard scene involves a mass of ghostly limbs jabbing and intersecting through a tangle of steps. Despite a dynamic creative team and strong dancers, this new rendition never fully unites its steps with the story it purports to tell. The movement often seems to exist purely for its own sake and with little link to the overall concept, no matter how loosely tethered or not to the original Giselle the new concept might be. In this production, with so much movement and little time to reflect on the ballet’s action and overall meaning, the sunrise offers a welcome relief. Prior to this, the action in a police station had introduced us to the rest of the cast, including a guilty Bathilde whose silhouette behind a blacklit screen remains one of the strongest images of the evening. Despite unnecessary and pedantic spoken text in part of the soundscore, she and Rodolfo Saraiva as Albrecht barely have time to convince us of their devotion before we are led to a morgue: a difficult scene to make appealing. In the original Giselle, the title character’s development and the corps de ballet’s unity in Act II kept ballerinas striving to dance it. This ballet keeps all of its action on the surface, …

A ghost story on shifting builder’s sand

Abandoned, uncared for, depopulated and full of chancers, where stories like this sometimes fall through the cracks. It was made all the more interesting for me because it happens nowhere near the damp, dreary Edwardian coastal towns, fusty libraries or quiet country houses of James – the exact opposite in fact. It will be available as a podcast on April 30th. The only noise was the gravel beneath their sandals. Why? I had done nothing apart from let the girl in, call the law and wait. That’s the true beauty of Conor O’Callaghan’s hypnotic novel for me – it’s a Chinese puzzle box and yet short, readable and something that I’ve seen being loved by people who might balk at the “complexities” of some literary fiction. “Ghost” stories that were rarely of the openly supernatural, more of the strange and the gently unsettling. http://www.cuirt.ie/event/conor-ocallaghan-al-kennedy/ Nothing on Earth is available in paperback (Black Swan Ireland, £7.99) Chances are, though, that you’ll know Gatiss more recently from being the co-creator of Sherlock; he’s the actor who plays Mycroft Holmes too. Nothing on Earth is a Chinese puzzle box and yet short, readable and something that I’ve seen being loved by people who might balk at the “complexities” of some literary fiction Irish writing in recent years is full of stories of contemporary rural failure and pain, there are families in quiet crisis everywhere, the consequences of boom and bust are being told all around us and, as a grouping of writing, it’s not short of stories in which a priest takes a significant role. I hadn’t laid a finger on her.”) Were we ultimately being told the wanderings of a sick or lost mind with a thin hold on reality? I like Mark Gatiss a lot. Nothing on Earth: a kind of ghost story on a ghost estate Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan: April’s Irish Times Book Club choice My novel’s roots? Rarely enough do I find something this special full of shifting sands underfoot, uncertain realities and, ultimately, a story that even refuses to tell you what it is James was a medievalist, antiquarian and eventual provost of King’s College Cambridge who, far more famously, created gorgeously solid, slow moving and creepy stories like The Tractate Middoth, The Mezzotint and Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad. (At the very beginning of the story he says “If I am …

Six shows to watch on TV this week: Silicon Valley, Home of the Year and more

Now it’s time to look in your Phillippe Starck mirror and ask yourself, is it time I got a new body? The fourth series of Silicon Valley follows the further adventures of this motley crew of geeks as they navigate their way through the shark-infested waters of the tech industry and deal with the vulture capitalists that forever circle the valley. The first bean-spiller in the hotseat is Roger Daltrey from The Who. The oldies and the youngsters are marooned on two separate Pacific islands, and in last night’s opening episode. Brian Johnson’s A Life on the Road with… Friday, Sky Arts, 9pm Want to know what it’s like being a rampant rock‘n’roll star? She learns that some men won’t bat an eyelid at getting hair transplants, and that many people are happy to pay through the nose for a nosejob. However nicely you’ve done up your house, you can bet these homes will make yours look like a shebeen. Kinda makes being in negative equity sting a little sharper. It’s not long before they’re running to their elders for help – typical kids, eh? Super Garden Tuesday, RTE One, 8.30pm It’s bad enough when you have to pour zillions into your interior design just to get a nod from RTE (See Home of the Year, below), but now we’re expected to fork out and turn our little patch of scrub into a veritable Garden of Eden. Silicon Valley Monday, Sky Atlantic, 10.10pm If you want to see the real effect technology has on men’s sex lives, look no further than the boys behind tech startup Pied Piper. Body Shopping Thursday, RTE Two, 9.30pm So, you’ve got the house done up, and the garden’s been landscaped to perfection. Brian Johnson could tell you. Each week the AC/DC singer chats with such legends as Lars Ulrich from Metallica, Joe Elliot from Def Leppard, Nick Mason from Pink Floyd, Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, and Sting from The Police. You want some hair-raising stories of on-the-road excess and exegesis? Body Shopping is a new three-part series looking at the lengths some people go to achieve their ideal look. Three words: Can’t. Welcome back to the fourth series of the survival show which does the very simple thing of pitting two generations against each other to see which one can keep from dying of starvation, disease or just plain boredom. Be. They may …

Cuireann iriseoir giorria ina shuí

Chuala mé an nath sin “to start a hare” sa tseomra nuachta agus mé ag foghlaim mo cheirde. Ní chuireann sé mórán ama amú idir páirc amháin agus páirc eile. Is fada fada ó chonaic mé giorria. “Giorria a chur ina shuí” a thugann Ó Dónaill ar “to start a hare; to bring up a matter for discussion, to start an argument”. Bíodh is gur Aibreán atá ann, tá fáinleog nó dhó le feiceáil cois locha. Chonaic mé, cinnte, coinín, gráinneog, madadh rua agus broc go minic ach giorria ná giorria ní fhaca mé. Tá cuimhne agam ar ghiorria a fheiceáil i Rann na Feirste agus mé i mo mhac léinn ach ní bréag a rá nach bhfaca mé giorria ar bith cois locha riamh. póm Agus seo é, ar maidin, é ag rith trasna an bhóthair, na cosa áiféiseacha deiridh sin á phreabadh i dtreo an fháil, na cluasa fada sin thuas san aer. You didn’t start a hare.” Agus seo anois an giorria os mo chomhair, ar feadh tamaill bhig, agus seo arís mé os comhair méarchláir agus an nasc sin idir mise, an giorria, agus an iriseoireacht á bhuanú uair amháin eile. Is é atá gasta. Is ag déanamh iontais d’éin an aeir a bhí mé. Ní luaithe go bhfeicim é go n-imíonn sé. Bhí mé ag stánadh ar na cuairteoirí ón Afraic nuair a bhain ainmhí de bhunadh na hÉireann preab asam – giorria! Seaniriseoir mo mholadh – níor tharla sé go minic – faoi scéal – “You did that right, Pól. Chuir mé giorria ina shuí.

Táin Bó na Fraince

Oíche nó dhó ina dhiaidh sin, bhíomar inár luí i ngort eile fós. Tar éis 20 slat den chúpla céad míle, rith siad lena n-anam. Ní gá a rá nach raibh siad chomh comaoineach cairdiúil sin le cailíní óga na n-amhrán. Bhíos féin agus mo pháirtí, Caoimhín, ag síobshiúl linn tríd an bhFrainc. Nuair a bhuail an clog ar uair an chiúnais, chuireamar deireadh leis an ngeabstaireacht agus chuaigh a chodladh faoi chrann a bhí i gceartlár na páirce móire fairsinge leithne. Mar a ránaíonn, áfach, dhúisigh Caoimhín mar b’éigean dó cnaipe a scaoileadh i gcoim na hoíche. “An bhfuil a fhios agat,” arsa Caoimhín, “tá seo go hainnis, ach amach anseo, ceapfaimid go mbeidh sé go hiontach.” Bhí an ceart aige. An mhaidin dár gcionn fuair cailíní deas crúite na bó sinn i ngort eile ar fad agus iad i bhfeidhil a gcuid stoc. Is tarbhaíonta iad!” Is amhlaidh go rabhamair inár gcnap codladta i lár feirme tarbh. Dheineamar comhairle mheánoíche. Má bhí ábhairín róluath dúinne, sin é mar atá an saol. Ní fíor é sin, ar fad ar fad. Scioból ná stáisiún bus ná foirgneamh folamh ní raibh inár ngaobhar, dá réir sin, b’éigean dúinn dul faoi choimirce páirce móire ar imeall bhaile. Tá eolas maith éigin ag daoine ar na hamhráin sin a thosnaíonn “Maidin mhoch is mé ag gabháil amach le fáinne geal an lae…”, nó, “As I roved out on a May morning, on a May morning quite early…” Mura bhfuil, ní foláir nó tá tú id chónaí go buan in Féasbucaís nó sa chípearspáslann sin nach dtagann daoine as. Bhí tréad bó tamall uainn, tamall fada uainn, ach níor chuir siad aon mhairg orainn. Abair leat gur páirc mhór a bhí ann. Spéir Dé ár ndíon lasnairde, agus talamh an diabhail ár leaba laistíos. Tá bioráin na sreinge deilgní ar éalaíomar tharstu fós ionam. Sinn idir dhá iomaire inár málaí codlata. Bhí siad ar an táirm chéanna linne. Bhí, agus tá. Nós seanbhunaithe agam féin is ea a bheith ag siúl an drúchta i moiche na maidne, ach ní féidir liom a rá gur casadh oiread sin ainnireacha, ná béithe, ná spéirmhná, ná mná ar thalamh féin orm sa ghluaiseacht sin liom. Toisc go raibh an saol lándathannach agus bláthanna ar sileadh ó gach ribe gruaige thiar, níor smaoiníomar ar airgead a thabhairt linn, ní áirím clárú le ‘An Óige’, ná puball a thabhairt …

Dylan – amhránaí a thugann do dhúshlán

Nuair a bhí deireadh leis an gceolchoirm, ainneoin ghártha molta an tslua, d’imigh Dylan leis ón stáitse go mímúinte gan focal buíochais a ghabháil. Sílim gur thug scannán fáisnéise DA Pennebaker Don’t Look Back léargas suimiúil ar thréithe Dylan agus é ina ógfhear, ag tabhairt camchuairt Shasana sa bhliain 1965. Cheannaigh mé na halbaim Bob Dylan agus The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan a raibh grianghraf ar an gclúdach de féin agus Suze álainn Rotolo. Chonaiceamar ag gabháil chuige fuaim leictreach – cinneadh nár thaitin leis na mílte leanúnaithe cheol phobail – agus ina dhiaidh sin na stíleacha éagsúla a léirigh gur caimileon cruthanta a bhí ann. Feicimid freisin an t-amhránaí cheol phobail, Joan Baez, a bhí ag siúl amach le Dylan ag an am, ag lútáil air, fad a chaitheann seisean go dona léi. B’é an toradh a bhí air seo ná gur éirigh liom ceol traidisiúnta a sheinm nuair a d’éirigh mé tuirseach de cheol Dylan. Sa tslí sin bhí ar mo chumas an t-orgán béil a sheinm fad a bhí mé ag seinm an ghiotáir. Agus muid ag fás aníos choinnigh mé féin agus mo chairde cos le saol Dylan. As sin amach chuir mé suim i gceol Dylan. Tháinig Dylan amach ar an stáitse lena bhanna ceoil agus, gan focal a rá leis an lucht féachana, thosaigh ag canadh de ghlór piachánach toll. Feictear an t-amhránaí óg faoi strus ag an gclú domhanda a bhí air. Le blianta beaga anuas chuaigh mé go dtí ceolchoirmeacha Dylan sa 3 Arena i mBaile Átha Cliath. Dar liom gur pictiúr an-rómánsúil é agus bhí mé in éad leis an amhránaí óg a raibh ceann an chailín ghleoite ar a ghualainn, go háirithe ó nach raibh cailín ar bith agam féin ag an am. Bhain Dylan an gradam as “smaointe nua fileata a chruthú laistigh den traidisiún mór amhrán Meiriceánach”. Gan dabht bhí a rian ar go leor ceoltóirí ar nós na Byrds, Manfred Mann agus fiú na Beatles féin. D’athraigh sé ó bheith bhí ina amhránaí cheoil phobail, go hamhránaí rac, go crónánaí cheoil tíre agus ar aghaidh go seantrúbadóir liath agus é ag dul in aois. Tá daoine ann fós a dhéanfaidh a mhór de Dylan agus a mhaithfidh dó cibé lochtanna atá air. Níor thuig mé riamh an-chuid de liricí an cheoltóra. Cé gur chan sé roinnt dá sheanamhráin bhí siad athraithe chomh mór sin go raibh sé fíordheacair …