Old Moore’s Almanac is 253 years old, making its founder – me – about 300 years old. And I am back from that churchyard in Drumcondra, Dublin, to survey all that I own (or used to own) in 2017.
I have been awoken from my sleep in Drumcondra to see that we have a gay Taoiseach steering this ship. The fact that he’s into some same-sex loving is a big yawn to everyone in Ireland. What people across the world seem to forget about Ireland is that we have been down with gays long before invading religions swarmed all over us and made things awkward.
In fact, there is a lot of evidence that gay Gaels have been around for as long as Ireland has. They have enriched Ireland’s history at a time when sexual life then seemed freer. For example, the famous poets and bards have often showed great liking for powerful and handsome princes.
It’s worth noting that Brehon law (the ancient law of Ireland) was quite accepting of homosexuality. For example, there is a law concerning a husband who prefers to share his bed with his manservant than with his wife. He has to pay her some compensation to make up for the lack of action (and possibly to help her go out and entertain herself) but beyond that the law is cool with it.
Even the book of Kells has illustrations of men ’embracing’ all over it. Come on, we are losing the run of ourselves over this Leo thing.
Fast forward to modern times, well into the lifespan of the Old Moore’s Almanac, where gay folk were busy organising the Rising. A good number of the 1916 rebels were same-sex lovers, particularly women like Madeleine Ffrench-Mullan and Kathleen Lynn. Two of the sixteen men executed by the British in 1916 were gay—Sir Roger Casement and Padraig Pearse (who was less open about his sexuality. Pearse did not even recognise that his florid appreciation of boys in his artwork was sexual until friends drew his attention to it and told him to cool it. For those who don’t know of Pearse, in 1908, he was the first to start a school in modern Ireland where the curriculum was in the Irish language.)
And then of course, one of our greatest literary minds, Oscar Wilde – was famously flamboyant (although let’s not forget that he also married and had children).
So good luck Leo, I don’t care who your boyfriend is. But can you fix our damn hospital waiting list and do something about those overworked doctors and nurses.
The other thing that has come onto my radar is this Brexit business. But let me paint it for you like this. The Irish and the English have always been connected, and there has been a lot of interbreeding between us over the aeons, despite how much the Irish and Brits insist the other is intolerable. We know that we will always be in bed with the Brits, and nothing will change. It’s like a long marriage. Sometimes, it is passionate, beneficial and helpful. And other times, one partner runs off with a stipper. But the marriage will always be a marriage, because we are soul mates. It was the same way 353 years ago, and it is still this same way today.
Have a great July.