‘Tis that time of year when people start making lists of potential gifts for their friends and/or family and publishers launch new books to appeal to every personality type and disposition. One of these gift books is Who’s Fecking’ Who in Irish History by Colin Murphy (with hilarious illustrations by Brendan O’Reilly).
Who’s Feckin’ Who is the latest installment in a popular series of humorous books about all aspects of Irish life. It comprises hilarious biographies of famous and infamous figures from Irish history.
To start with, I should point out that the title is not as scandalous as the unfamiliar might think. Feckin’ is not an exact synonym for a much more-well-know and internationally used four letter word. While feckin’ is a gentle curse — one your Granny might use when discussing politicians — it isn’t used as a coarse description of the act of love. So, the title of the book does not refer to who’s getting it on with whom in Irish history — that might be a very interesting book, but it’s not this one. (With notable exceptions for Charles Stuart Parnell and Katherine O’Shea, as well as Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan, whose stories, like their lives, are entwined.)
If you’ve ever vaguely wondered who Niall of the Nice Hostages was, or feel like you should know something about Robert Emmett or Wolfe Tone since they keep getting name checked in the sad songs your Da sings when he’s knocked back a few, but can’t face reading a serious history book about Irish history, Who’s Feckin’ Who in Irish History is the perfect choice.
As the book is humorous in nature, the irreverent tone might not go down well with everyone. Here’s a few representative samples of the of author Colin Murphy’s approach (and if they make your blood boil, rather than trickle the funny bone, then this book might be best avoided):
Charles Stuart Parnell’s great achievement was “For the first time in centuries, he’d managed to get all strands of nationalism kicking with the same boot instead of kicking each other.”
On St. Patrick: “He’s said to have used the shamrock to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity — how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were one God. This is celebrated every year with the use of inflatable plastic shamrocks made in China.”
On Oliver Goldsmith: “Not many outright dossers earn a place in literary history and a statue in front of Trinity College, but Ollie was that lovable, lazy eejit with talent to burn, and unfortunately, burn most of it he did.”
Eamon de Valera “formed a new party called Fianna Fail, or the ‘soldiers of Density,’ sorry, ‘Destiny.’ Fianna Fail’s aims were a united Ireland, restoration of the Irish language, equal opportunity for all, and to make Ireland self-sufficient. All of which they failed miserably to achieve in the next 70 years.”
Who’s Feckin’ Who in Irish History would make a perfect gift for any Irish-American comedians (and don’t we all fancy ourselves great comedians?), or a sly one for that Gaelic-spouting uncle who’s always complaining the younger generation don’t know about their heritage.
Or, you could just treat yourself. Everyone needs a good laugh now and then.
To purchase Who’s Feckin’ Who in Irish History in the US, you may have to wait a short while…