By Ray O’Hanlon
Things ain’t quite working out as planned at Shea Stadium. Zillions spent on star players who, well, don’t star. Perhaps dem muts were $855 short of the perfect team. Ah well.
Those of you who have been following the Mets/Jeanie Johnston saga — the biggest tale of short changing since Scrooge — may well be aware of the curious twist of fate that befell the stumbling Mets the other evening. The Cincinnati Reds arrived in town and put former Mets pitcher "Pistol Pete" Harnisch on the mound. Harnisch duly denied the Mets a score as his own team scored four. Pistol Pete just happens to be a cousin of attorney Ronnie Harnisch, counsel to the Famine Ship Limited, the fund-raising group that had a hand in last year’s Irish Night at Shea, an event that was supposed to raise a few grand for the Jeanie Johnston but that ended up with the Mets forking over a whopping $855, a sum just marginally greater than the cost of a kosher hotdog in the Shea cheapseats.
As for the Mets-Famine Ship standoff, the Village Voice recently reported Mets spokeswoman Kit Geis as saying that the Famine Ship Limited should count itself lucky. If the Mets had really gone by the books, the fund-raising group would have been given even less than $855. Eh, $854.50? "This is over," Geis told the VV. Wellll . . .
Little Phil a Cavan Celt?
The mystery as to the birthplace of General Phil Sheridan, Civil War Union cavalry commander, continues to thwart the efforts of Sheridan fans from Cootehill to Casper. Sheridan has more birthplaces to his name than Charlie Haughey has handouts and the number keeps on rising. Never mind Somerset, Ohio, Albany, Boston, somewhere or another in Canada and even the dingy hold of westbound sailing ship in mid-Atlantic, there are also several Irish locations, including Granard, Co. Longford; Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath, and a few in County Cavan.
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Cavan’s claim to Little Phil is the most widely recognized of the Irish ones. Various accounts do indeed point toward Ireland in general and Cavan in particular, not least the ones having Sheridan himself ruling out a White House bid because he was born in the auld sod.
Meanwhile, the latest claim on the 5-foot-5 warrior comes from Killinkere, Co. Cavan. So confident are locals that they are planning to erect a memorial in Sheridan’s honor. Nothing like the bit of stone and metal to nail down history’s uncertainties. They should build an interpretive center while they’re at it.
No patent pending
The New York Times Book Review last Sunday included an ad for three Martin Dillon books: "The Shankill Butchers," "God and the Gun" and Dillon’s latest tome, "The Dirty War." The ad included a line in quotation marks describing Dillon as "the greatest living authority on Irish terrorism."
"IF" is pretty sure that this accolade was coined by Conor Cruise O’Brien, something of a greatest living authority himself on any number of things. It is no surprise that an advertising person would seek to make prominent use of such praise in an effort to sell Dillon’s books, which, it can be said, are indeed worth a look.
But "IF" has taken up the cudgel against the term "Irish terrorism" in the past and does so here again. There is no such thing as "Irish terrorism." It is not something that has been patented or copyrighted by the Irish people, or on their behalf. It is not a brand, such as, say, "Irish Whiskey." It is not a state-sponsored exercise or a habit of Irish people in general.
Sure, there have been Irish terrorists and acts of terror carried out by Irish nationals. But the term "Irish terrorism" is too loose a term by far, more of a headline culled from "Your Soaraway Sun" and other true blue tabs of the Fleet Street/Wapping variety.
Anyway, back to the book review ad. If the subject matter is indeed "Irish terrorism," how come the Shankill Butchers get a look in? Shouldn’t Dillon be equally described as an authority on "British terrorism" given the stated national preference of the Butchers and their ilk. Ah, but that would be complicating things. Keep the concept simple. Keep terrorism "Irish."
Aer Lingus executives will be getting down to the nitty-gritty of alliance negotiations in the next few weeks with a small posse of expected partners including British Airways. There has been some speculation that British, and possibly American Airlines as well, will eventually purchase a stake in the Irish carrier once a formal deal for Aer Lingus entry to the OneWorld alliance has been secured. Perhaps Aer Lingus should keep its drawbridge firmly up for the moment. British Airways, "the world’s favorite airline," according to itself, has been taking a buffeting of late with falling profits and rising customer complaints.
"They have an arrogant attitude, the sales people and the service people don’t really care," was the comment to the Irish Times of one leading figure in the corporate travel business.
The idea of actually caring a hoot has long been a cornerstone of the Aer Lingus self-image. The Irish carrier hasn’t always managed to live up this ideal, of course, but things seem to be getting better on that front of late. Nothing like the few extra bucks in the coffers when it comes to widening that cheesy corporate smile. Aer Lingus should keep on smiling all the way into the talks with British Airways — be more beef than chicken — and tell the world’s favorite airline to take off on a hike somewhere if it starts putting on any superior airs.
Is Broadway becoming "The Great Irish Way" to a point that is overwhelming? John Heilpern of the New York Observer thinks so. In a column headlined "Waving or Drowning In the Irish New Wave?" the critic, a fan of Irish drama, it must be said, states that the Martin McDonagh/Conor McPherson "industry" is reaching saturation point. He points out that the two playwrights have had no fewer than six plays produced on Broadway in little over a year.
"Even for these gifted writers, who are still in their 20s, it feels like overkill," Heilpern opined. He reckons that McDonagh in particular "is having much more fun with his plays than his over-serious admirers are." Heilpern concludes that "We’re drowning is a surfeit of wry Irish eccentricity." Glug, glug!