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The Media Make A Killing
The murder of Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius was heart-breaking for those who knew and loved her. But is the extent of the coverage of the case in Irish media a good thing?
The Whole Hog, 20 Jun 2012
A Germany-based friend once commented that the Germans were great travellers, always off to find somewhere new and exotic, always pushing the boundaries and exploring. She knew this anyway but added, by way of proof, “if a plane crashes, there’s always a German among the dead”.
It’s a grim reckoning, sure, but it’s one that resonates with the Irish experience. Of course, for a century and a half the Irish scattered to where there was work. But since the ‘90s they’ve been going where there’s adventure.
Whether working or adventuring, the risk of death and injury abroad is ever-present and for the families and friends of those who are off somewhere in the distance, it’s a dreadful prospect. Everyone fears the knock on the door and the beginning of a process encapsulated in the terms used in news reports: “The Irish embassy is offering assistance.”
When the Irish flooded across America in the 19th century, news travelled slower. Sometimes people never knew what became of their loved ones. It is truly poignant to pick your way through the graves in a tiny town like Downieville in California, a place that has hardly grown since the gold ran out, and where the graveyard has many headstones and crosses bearing Irish names, sometimes of men as young as 16, and telling of where they came from.
We hear more now and faster about what happens even in remote places. But still, most of us will be familiar with the fear that takes up residence in the back of the minds of parents, siblings and friends when someone we are close to heads off into the wild blue yonder.
The worst rarely happens, but there are occasions when it does. Take the case of Jonathan Spollen, a writer and journalist from Ranelagh in Dublin. He is currently missing in India. Then there’s Nicola Furlong from Wexford, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in a hotel in Tokyo after a gig by Nicki Minaj. And there are others who have fallen foul of strange and dangerous circumstances, sometimes fatally.