Updated December 14
I have transcribed the interview section containing Mr. Byrne’s comments about The Gathering. You can read it here. The audio interview is on this page as well.
You will see only one Byrneholics posting about Gabriel Byrne’s remarks concerning The Gathering, despite the diatribes, slurs, and hissy fits that were published in response to him. And this is it.
I hate soundbites. After an 18-month onslaught of political quips, cuts, and digs in the media here in the US, I wonder where true political discourse has gone.
It is ironic that the best example of the misuse of the soundbite I can offer happened, not in the United States, but in Ireland. Well, it really happened in New York, but it was about Ireland. Actually, it was about the Irish in America and the Irish in Ireland. Darn. It was complicated.
Gabriel Byrne was interviewed on The Last Word with Matt Cooper in New York on November 5. He talked about Superstorm Sandy, life in New York City, the US election, Quirke (a new series he will be shooting in Ireland later in November), and being Cultural Ambassador for Ireland, as well as The Gathering, support in Ireland for the arts and culture, the Irish diaspora, etc.
Listen to the interview (about 25 minutes in length):
Don’t be satisfied with the soundbites that were ripped from this interview and then plastered on websites and newspapers. Listen to the entire thing.
Mr. Byrne was asked for his opinion about The Gathering and he provided it. Afterwards, he was chastised, castigated, pilloried, and all but drawn and quartered for his remarks. Ministers in the Irish government have questioned his ethics, his patriotism, and his taste in hotels. They even pooh-poohed his fanbase!
Well, that is okay. His fanbase is just fine, thank you very much, and so is Mr. Byrne.
President Higgins observed in the Irish Examiner on November 21:
President Michael D Higgins has defended actor Gabriel Byrne as a fine ambassador for Ireland in the wake of his controversial remarks about The Gathering.
The Hollywood screen star is a “magnificent Irish person” who merely wants the Government’s flagship tourism initiative – which he branded a “scam” – to have a deeper connection to the diaspora, said President Higgins.
“I looked at the full transcript of what he said, and what Gabriel was saying was that he wishes very much The Gathering to be a success but he wants it to have depth,” he said.
Speaking during a three-day trip to Liverpool and Manchester, the president said Mr Byrne was a personal friend who had done great work over the years with the Irish film industry.
Furthermore, the former cultural ambassador had brought investment to the country, he said.
“I do hope as well that the reaction to what Gabriel has said is that people are fair to Gabriel,” he said.
“Gabriel Byrne is a magnificent Irish person who has worked for Ireland and worked beyond his own self.
“He is a star but beyond all of that I remember so clearly all he has done as cultural ambassador and how much he has done for Irish film and continues to do so.
“He’s actually making a film in Ireland at the moment and it has brought investment to Ireland.”
Gabriel Byrne supports the arts and culture in Ireland in myriad ways, one of which is by bringing work to Ireland. He has recently completed a series filmed entirely in Ireland–Vikings–and he began work on a new series for the BBC–Quirke, based on the first three books by Benjamin Black (nom de plume for John Banville)–on November 19. Quirke is being filmed in Dublin.
His thoughts and opinions about the way his country supports the arts and culture should be treated with the same respect and care as any citizen’s.
Oh wait. That appears to be the main problem.
And that is all I have to say on the matter. Promise.
Feel free to comment, rage, giggle, or whatever makes you happy. I’m done. smile
Added November 24:
There is a glaring error of omission in the posting above. I realized it myself this morning!
During the weeks that followed Mr. Byrne’s original statements about The Gathering, various online news organizations in Ireland published articles in response. Some were provided by staff writers as personal observations, but many were rebuttals from various government officials.
The comments to these articles (when comments were allowed) were almost unanimous in their support for Gabriel. This is not a scientific analysis; go read them for yourself and see what you think. And check out the tweets as well–just search #thegathering or #gabrielbyrne in Twitter to see the thoughts of tweeters from everywhere in the world, including not a few Byrneholics!
I was so heartened as I read these spontaneous displays of support for Gabriel’s ideas. And when the commenter or tweeter did not actually agree with Gabriel, many of them noted that he certainly had a right to speak his mind. They also noted his contributions to Ireland and the arts and observed that the government would do well to emulate his commitment and to acknowledge his sincere desire to see Ireland and its diaspora connect on a meaningful level.
I apologize for implying that only the President of Ireland spoke out in support of Gabriel. MANY citizens, fans, and writers did so, and those who disagreed tended to love him anyway.
He did tread on some toes but it is his honest assessment.
Thanks for making this available.
Brilliant. Loved it when he talked of Romney as being an “empty vessel” and how our “two wars were fought on a credit card” And he is right about how as an Irish/American I do feel the need to reconnect with Ireland. It is as he said “a replenishment of the soul” My great-grandfather on my father’s side came to America in 1857 and I have always felt more connected to Ireland than America. I may never get there but I would not want to be seen as merely “a tourist” and all they want me for is my money. I’m still looking for my roots and it means so very much to me. As for the cultural aspect, the Irish have given so much to the world over the centuries and they should not be made to ask for a handout to keep it going but rather the government should be saying wherever you are we are with you, sing your songs tell your stories and join us in sharing our history with the rest of the world. Show the world how beautiful we the Irish people really are. The government would do well to stay out of culture if they don’t know what it means. Anyway I guess I spouted off enough. I love Ireland and it’s people and if I had the chance I’d buy some land and move over in a New York minute. Thank you Squire Mr. Byrne for reminding us what it truly means to be Irish.
Oh and by the way if the Irish government wants people to stay in Ireland then they need to find a way to keep them there i.e. JOBS. And I think that the diaspora should be allowed to vote. Just like here. Maybe then Mr Kenny would have to really start doing his job and the rest of the government. It must put a scare in them and that’s why they won’t allow it. Maybe their afraid of losing their paychecks, Well there are a lot of people who have had to lose theirs. As with all puffed up roosters I say get over yourselves. Okay I think I’m done now, well maybe.
Nicely put ;)
Stella, sorry but I haven’t visited your site in while, so I’m just catching up.
I love Kim’s comments above.
I’m still a little taken aback at how much coverage Byrne got for simply speaking the truth. Here in the Galway area I haven’t actually met a single person who disagreed with what he said.
Check out Loretto’s answer to ‘The Gathering of Junkies’on my own site at http://www.charleybrady.com .I had only mentioned him in passing but I think that she just about sums a lot of things up. As does, I hope, my answer to her concerning Leo Varadkar and his absolute condescension towards admirers of Byrne.
I had just finished a piece for this week’s Irish Examiner USA where I again touched on this, which is why I looked you up to see what you were saying about The Gathering.
Kim, if you come here the only people who may be trying to rip you off are the ghastly creeps that Byrne is talking about, the ones that he doesn’t want to see lining their own pockets.
There are a lot of things wrong with this country but one thing that I will always say about it is that you can walk into almost any bar and you’ll find people that love movies, literature and music…and by heaven, do they want to share those enthusiasms.
I hope that you make it, I really do. I was weirdly touched by your comments, unusual for me because I’m just plain cynical by nature.
If it means so much to you, go for it. It may not be what you have built yourself up to expect but as James Michener once put it: “Sometimes a man must explore his dreams and see them for what they are”.
Who knows? I’ll bet that you’re pleasantly surprised.
And Stella? I still hope that they never remake “The Wild Bunch”; but if they do I STILL want Byrne to play Pike Bishop!
Charley! Happy New Year!
Thanks for dropping by and commenting on my posting about The Gathering. You will notice that I only wrote the ONE posting on this subject, despite the fact that many articles and an incredible number of tweets were devoted to Mr. Byrne’s comments. I was waiting for someone “of weight” to weigh in and support him, in addition to all of the fans who thought his comments were spot on. The fact that the President of Ireland turned out to be that person really cracked me up! I read your posting and Loretto’s responses and I think you two covered the waterfront on this issue–thank you. And thank you for your kind comments to Kim.
About “The Wild Bunch”–Gabriel may have had sufficient rough-and-tumble playing in “Vikings”! And I’m not sure I want to see him on a horse with a gun in his hand. I live in Texas and I see enough of that already… ;-)
If I make it to Dublin this year and I just might, I’ll buy you a pint, too.
Thanks, as always, for visiting.
Thank you Mr. Brady for your kind comments. I am part of the diaspora my family on my fathers side is Irish and a bit on my mothers side too. I love Ireland and all her problems. My heart has always belonged to her. I may never have a chance to visit but I will always love her. I’ve never felt like I belonged here in the US and that I was missing a part of me.
Again I thank you so much. Blessings on your house. And my coffee pot is always on should you find yourself in need of a place to rest.
Kim, what can I say? Lovely answer. You sound a little down as regards ever getting here, though.
Listen, the world has this funny old way of turning so don’t write it off.
If you ever want to just let rip about anything I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh and less of the Mr. Brady stuff. I feel old enough as it is!
Mr. Brady you are now in my email address book and I look forward to talking more. And I would be pleased to buy you a pint. Sláinte