Taking the Mick

Published in Features, Issue 1 (Spring 1996), News, Volume 4

Tom Garvin (UCD) was ‘very uneasy about it’ while Brendan McGahon TDspoke of ‘lurid imaginings’. These comments were made in a Sunday Timesarticle rubbishing the as yet unreleased Neil Jordan film about MichaelCollins. The article was entitled ‘Hollywood’s rewrite of Irish historyclouds peace process’. Although the peace process has in fact not beenclouded by either the film or the article, it does seem that certainwaters have been muddied, with the article provoking heated reactionson all sides.

The article spoke of ‘a tinseltown travesty of historical truth’,Jordan’s departure from fact, historical inaccuracies and seriousdistortions. It complained that Collins is portrayed as devoted togirlfriend Kitty Kiernan whereas in reality, according to the SundayTimes, he was ‘renowned for his bed-hopping’.

Neil Jordan was insensed. Speaking on Morning Ireland  the dayafter the article was published Jordan said he found it absolutelyludicrous that somebody who hadn’t read the script or seen the filmwould see fit to comment on it. On the same programme Roy Foster(Oxford), who had been quoted in the article, said that the SundayTimes piece was stridently exaggerated. He had made it clear to thenewspaper that he hadn’t read the script, a fact the Sunday Timeschoose not to disclose. Later in the week Ruth Dudley Edwards, who wasquoted in the article as saying the film was ‘sanitised’ becameembroiled in a battle of words with Tim Pat Coogan. He described theother commentators, Garvin and Foster, as ‘premier division’ but MsEdwards as ‘Shamrock Rovers’ (Former Rovers manager Ray Tracey was’sick as a parrot’). Ms Edwards responded in the following week’sSunday Independent: ‘Okay, Tim Pat Coogan, the gloves are off’. Sure,it’s a great little country!

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