Dublin Humour - Critical Sarcasm or Hilarious Banter?

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This week I’m excited to be presenting my own Dublin Radio Show called ‘Turning the Corner with Paddy Cullivan’, for a pop-up Radio Station called ‘Upbeat on Air’, broadcast on 99.5FM from St. Patrick’s Hospital Kilmainham at 1pm every day. It’s dedicated to promoting positive mental health for Mental Health Week and the fact they enlisted an angry curmudgeon such as myself to present a happy 3-hour music and chat show every day must be a testament to their foolish desire to change me AND the world.

Then again, as a curmudgeon, I believe possessing a healthy, grumpy critical faculty can be a way of maintaining your mental health in a positive way. Often that critical faculty is described by the establishment here as ‘begrudgery’, so as to shut up the reasonably disaffected. If you don’t absolutely accept and love the triumvirate of Riverdance, GAA and Westlife then God help you, you unpatriotic heathen. And we’re told by politicians we’re ‘Turning the Corner’ even though we’ll never, ever know why (and we’re not). And don’t question anything – just let the boom get ‘boomier’, as that famous Dubliner Bertie Ahern once said. Well, we were once so positive and blind we backed ourselves into the second Great Depression. And Depressions lead to depression, as I can testify.

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I really found that heyday of ultra-positive Dubs like Bertie and Bill Cullen bewildering. It went against the DNA of the city I grew up in – the smart-arsery, the wit, the gallows humour. I prefer the world-weary observations of Behan, the bleakness of the Radiators (listen to ‘Ghostown’). Dubs are renowned for their verbal dexterity in the slagging department. You can’t do that banging on like the Dalai Lama the whole time. I’m all for positive thinking, but I prefer hilarious conversation. Laughing beats meaningful nodding for me every time. I’m sure it’s better for you too. That’s why I’ll have brainy and funny people on every day to add to the great music, some of which will come from Dublin, believe it or not. Yes. Imagine playing Irish music on an Irish Radio station…

Dublin is filled mainly with musical memories for me. I went to Mount Temple and had the same encouraging teachers who encouraged U2, who’s Adam Clayton is a big supporter of St. Pats. And I remember in 1991 how important my Discman was when I was walking every day into NCAD from my home on the Northside. It would take 20 minutes – which was a side of an album, which meant albums were better, because they were shorter, but they were also albums, so they had to be good, because albums were important. The two I played, Depeche Mode’s ‘101’ and the Pixies’ ‘Doolittle’, were so evocative I always think of them when I’m zig-zagging down O’Connell Street today. And any time I’m on Dame Lane I think of the beginning of the clubbing revolution in Sides with Liam Dollard’s DJ-ing, that really broke down the class barriers in the city forever. Lapellos used to be the Underground, a tiny venue that was the closest we ever got to a Metro Station after we told the Japanese they could stuff their €15 million Metro plan where the sun don’t rise. More’s the pity...

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Notice how none of these memories involve Riverdance, the GAA or Westlife, and they all took place when we were flat broke. That’s the point of a city like Dublin, a place you can have totally different experiences to everyone else, thankfully, because far from being negative, forging your own path and having strong opinions about stuff will make you feel a kind of positivity the happy-heads can’t fathom.

Written By

Paddy Cullivan

Leader of the Camembert Quartet (Late Late Show Band), Presenter, Writer and Actor.

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