I went to see Four Angry Men – Matt Cooper, Shane Ross, Pat Leahy and Fintan O’Toole – in the Cork Opera House last night.
About 1,000 people showed up on a cold, dark, wet evening to hear four men rant (very intelligibly and well, I must say) about the state of the nation, the banks, the governing party, and society.
It was absolutely fantastic.
I am a big admirer of all four men for their intelligence and for their work on various issues as journalists.
After last night I particularly admire Pat Leahy, who earned fewer rounds of applause because of his direct and honest approach to the problems facing the country.
And I was very taken with Fintan O’Toole’s idea of “known unknowns” – the things that, in Ireland, we know but we do not know. Things that we are, on some level, aware of, but we refuse to admit to ourselves. Child abuse, domestic abuse, corruption, crime… it’s all in there. The culture in this country of being aware of things but not admitting them is the biggest problem facing us and he put it very well.
Their exploration of the corruption and lack of justice in modern Irish society was very interesting, and the format really suited it.
As Shane Ross pointed out, 1000 people had paid to come and see them speak last night. The previous night he spoke in the Seanad, where people are paid to be. One person was there.
The apathy and disconnectedness of the Irish public was dissected well by Pat Leahy, who repeatedly stated what many of us know, but do not know; we did not do the crime but we enabled it. We elected the people who did, and continued electing them in a cycle of greed and stupidity and self-service.
And many people will no doubt continue to vote for the same people, because although they “hate Fianna Fáil”, sure “Joe up the road was good to us” and “Paddy is great to fix a streetlight”.
These are all things that I knew, but that I had stopped thinking about; falling victim to the ‘known unknown’ Irish culture that I thought I was above.
The evening was better than I expected because it was thought-provoking. It reminded me of how enraged I was when the bank bailout happened; I’d forgotten.