Are ye right there, Enda, are ye right?

On the Edge

EASY-GOING ENDA RTÉ’s Iarnród Enda is a welcome, ambling distraction, despite the vitriolic views of some all-too-clever cynics.


On The Edge
Áine Ryan

So, if the former Taoiseach had a make-up artist, a hairdresser and a personal assistant packed into a box on the saddle of his bicycle would the disgruntled Irish public have been any happier? I doubt it.  
RTÉ’s Liveline certainly indulges the underbelly of Irish anger.
And clearly there is a lot of it out there when people have nothing better to do than phone in to complain about Iarnród Enda, the ongoing national broadcaster’s series that follows Mayo man Enda Kenny as he cycles along old railway lines, meeting various aficionados and hearing of their wonderful stories.
Should we not be grateful that RTÉ managed to distract itself from constant coronavirus coverage to treat us to an ambling, easy-going meander along the old railway lines of the country?
Okay, Our Enda is not Michael Portillo – the former British Conservative Minister who has reinvented himself as a rather eccentric presenter of train-based travel shows. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Irish public would have accepted this upper-class Brit more easily than our Enda. Agreed, that Portillo is a more polished broadcaster, despite his canary yellow trousers, but then he has got that imperial attitude that led to Brexit, as well as more experience as a broadcaster, to be fair.
Anyway, should we not be proud of our former Taoiseach’s command of the Irish language? Should we not enjoy his clear passion for rural Ireland and easy rapport with the various people he has interviewed in the episodes broadcast to date?  
I’m a bit baffled by Patrick Freyne’s sometimes all-too-clever review of the series in The Irish Times.
Like, what does this sentence mean exactly?
“The title, I believe, means Good Man Yourself, Enda, though my Irish is really bad because of colonialism, so I should probably watch again and read the subtitles.”  
Well, here is one viewer who didn’t get any sense of Tory-type smugness from Enda during the programmes – and I’ve been accused of being both a socialist and even a communist in the past.  
Continuing, Freyne opines: “Enda is so understated in his approach that he often looks like he’s wandered into shot by mistake, though, in fairness, this was also his leadership style. He always seemed like he’d achieved high office accidentally, like King Ralph or the gardener in Being There, by wandering into the wrong room or winning a raffle.”
Arra, will you stall the digger there, Patrick Freyne!
Maybe I have been in lockdown for too long or, perhaps, I need to move inside the Pale to understand such obscure quips. And, I make that comment as someone who grew up near our main metropolis (but it was back in those days when humour and, indeed, satire seemed more intelligible).
That doesn’t mean I don’t think that Enda, or any former holder of high-office, is beyond caricaturing. Miriam Lord’s musings, in her Irish Times column, are a case in point. She writes that Iarnród Enda’s return to the limelight has fueled  speculation – once again – that it may be the launch of a run for the Áras, despite his constant denials.   
Writing ahead of the third episode, which followed the route of the old West Clare Railway, Lord cleverly rejigs the famous Percy French song about the Clare train line:

Are ye right there, Enda, are ye right?
Do you think you have the Áras in your sights?
Ye’ve been so long in denying
That ye might be shrewdly tryin
Still ye might go, Enda, so ye might . . .”

Now that is a bit of craic.