- 08 Aug 17
Our mention of urban myths in the last issue triggered another recollection. A study, the details of which are forgotten but it may have been for a Masters or PhD, focused on Irish urban myths, and found that a significant source of those myths was none other than the broadcaster Gay Byrne.
How so, you might ask. Well, he had a habit of reading out bits and pieces and man-bites-dog stories from the morning’s papers from time to time, often adding his own tuppence worth. Being a bit of a fogey, of course, he frequently resorted to the British papers and The Telegraph and Daily Mail in particular. Never the whole story nor balanced, just stuff that caught his eye.
Those who half-listened often got bits of the story but not all. When retelling the tale they’d forget where they heard it and would attribute it to a friend of a friend when retelling. Thus, in the weird ways of the world, some of the idiotic garbage those papers were, and still are, prone to print wound its way into modern Irish urban mythology.
And those particular papers are pretty cavalier when it comes to politics, Europe, general truths and science. If they hear of something that reflects badly on foreigners they’ll print it whether true or not. The same goes for Europe. And young people. And women. Everything is filtered through the prisms of prejudice and small c conservatism. And the default response is outrage and bluster and labelling your opponents loonies or traitors or enemies of the people.