Sunday newspaper writers have caught a new disease.." />

Obsessive Cork Paranoia

Posted on Jul 11, 2007 in Danny Elbow


Obsessive Cork Paranoia
Danny Elbow

Cork bashing has always been an occasional feature in Irish Sunday newspapers but in recent months the number of seriously worded opinion articles having a go at us Rebels, has taken a surprising increase and now the rest of the country's apparent obsession with us appears in print with predictable regularity.

Firstly, we're delighted the entire country seems obsessed with us being happy about where we're from. It profoundly annoys many non-Cork people that Corkonians are proud to be where they are from. Something deep in the Irish psyche does not allow one to think of oneself as content, happy or God forbid, superior.

Irish society often takes a dim view of success and treats any hint of flamboyance with contempt. You're not a yank jah hear!

Journos want Cork fans to stop enjoying themselves. Having slaughtered Offaly by 19 points, the week after trouncing Dublin by 11, tis kinda tricky..

Surprisingly, for highly paid columnists with thirty-two county audiences, all of these articles rely entirely on their author's vague whims and the occasional exaggerated anecdote, exchanged presumably over a few bottles of mid-priced wine and brie, to concoct a discernable theme to their condemnation of a distinct group of people.

A recent Sunday Times article, ironically penned by a disgruntled Corkonian who has spent a considerable amount of time living in Dublin, complained that Cork was now up it's own arse because (and you won't believe this!) we had a spanking brand new School of Music and was ordering a record 57 grand pianos from makers Steinway.

Bizarrely, this simple fact, was used like evidence at the show trial of a medieval witch, to claim Corkonians have lost the plot.

Entranced readers were, at the very least, expecting the author to publish a verse or song from a distinguished composer in the School of Music, arrogantly proclaiming the new building as a worldwide mecca for music academics with an eight-bar chorus taunting Dubliners for not having the same - but we received not a jot of evidence.

Spreading the word: Justin McCarthy issues wise words to young hurlers at Bredagh GAA club in Down.

While we don't need to tell you why Cork is great, it is important to understand why certain writers are so perpetually obsessed with our Buddhist-like self contentment.

Firstly, we must understand that outsiders see us as a very distinct group. We speak with an accent that is instantly identifiable and the wearing of clothing to facilitate the hard of hearing in establishing our origin, is also common place. As a group we're very visible.

Meet anyone from Leitrim, Westmeath, Laois or Wicklow for example and their accents are not as easily identifiable. Counties like these have had little sporting success and only a few faithful fans parade in their county colours outside their own borders. Would you be enthusiastic about being identified with a county that is bereft of success?

Secondly, some of the most watched programmes on RTE are All Ireland finals and in the background of every shot are tens of thousands of Rebels in red. When we win, the rest of Ireland see streets full of Corkonians welcoming their beloved teams home. We're far too content for some people's liking - who do we think we are, ha?

Italia 90 and Jack's Army: the Irish celebrate

But why do we appear so content about being from Cork? GAA success is by far the single biggest factor behind the inherent feel-good attitude Corkonians have about their county.

Failure brings division and distaste but success breeds unity and contentment. Cork has fortunately been blessed with the latter and this success is accentuated almost annually in Croke Park.

Who couldn't be happy for deprived Sligo fans last weekend as they captured the Connaught football title? Bet they're all feeling good about being from Sligo this week.

Every Irish person will remember the euphoria that Italia 90 created on this island and among diaspora abroad. Some economists consider the feel-good factor it left at the start of the last decade to be at the root of Ireland's economic success which began soon after.

For those pariahs who "don't get the whole Cork thing loike" it is imperative in attempting to gain an understanding of us, to appreciate the simple joy and fulfilment that sporting success brings to a sport-obsessed people.

They're right when they say, "Cork people think we're all jealous of them". But it's only because we're so considerate.

Cork fans embracing gaelic culture at Pairc ⁄i Chaoimh last Saturday night...instead of snorting coke in a wine bar and blabbering shite about the guest list for Lillys.

When we see Sligo people celebrating a rare Connaught title, hear stories about gang wars in Limerick and Dublin or listen to Galwegians talking about boiling water we are down-to-earth enough to be able to appreciate what we have. It doesn't mean we're mocking or taunting.

Corkonians are heavily involved in helping other peoples enjoy the smell of success. We've sent the likes of Justin McCarthy to Waterford to try to help them win their first All Ireland in over 40 years.

We also sent Eddie O'Sullivan up to sort out Irish rugby. We even sent out Eddie Hobbs to help people with their finances so Bertie wouldn't screw them when they got their SSIAs. And this is the thanks we get?!

Continually pushing the notion that Corkonians are deadly serious about their superiority in publications that consider themselves genuine reflections of public opinion is bringing criticism of Cork people well beyond the craic and slagging at the turnstiles.

When it comes to the national media we're accused of having a chip on our shoulder yet there are no articles taking a dig at, Limerick, Meath or Dublin people. Well educated but profoundly socially insulated writers obsessed with the perception of Cork outside the county, should first investigate the causes and realities of those misconceptions instead of using their talented prose to continually add fuel to the nonsense fire.

When these high brow pariahs are concocting their next inflammatory rant about us in some up market Dublin wine bar this weekend, they should note where we'll be: standing under the score board in the Town End of Semple Stadium with our arms around each other, smiles as wide as Bantry Bay, burping stout and singing the Banks - watching our beloved hurlers beat those Tipp fellas out the gate!


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