Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ireland's Greatest - My vote goes to Michael Collins

RTÉ have just completed a poll to decide if Michael Collins, Bono, Mary Robinson, John Hume, or James Connolly is Ireland's greatest person ever. It's an interesting list of Irish people and made for interesting viewing on RTÉ television over the past few weeks. In today's Irish Tims it is reported that John Hume wins 'Ireland's greatest' award, with Michael Collins 2nd, Mary Robinson 3rd, James Connolly 4th, and Bono 5th. I watched all the RTÉ programmes (except the Mary Robinson one). There was clearly a lot of enthusiasm and over-the-top hero worship from each of the presenters, though I wonder if John Hume would have won if someone other than the gorgeous Miriam O'Callaghan in blue jeans presented the programme on him. I like John Hume - always did. But to describe him as "Ireland's greatest" if a bit far fetched for me. Rev Ian Paisley, a giant in Irish and British politics, could also arguably be regarded as being "Great" as he had more of an influence on Northern Ireland than Hume.

Graphic from RTÉ website.
I wrote in a previous post last March that I had voted for Patrick Pearse in the initial poll which featured 40 people. At the time I bemoaned the fact that the list of 40 contained a lot of celebrities such as Stephen Gately, Ronan Keating, Louis Walsh, Adi Roche, Joe Dolan, Colin Farrell, and Liam Neeson and I asked the question Can these people really be counted as "great"?. Thankfully none of them have made it onto the shortlist. My shortlist in March was Pearse, Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell,  Éamon de Valera, and Oscar Wilde - at least one of my selections made it to the final cut. Another feature of my short-list is that they are all dead!

Clearly with the above five people, greatness is measured in different ways - and to me there was no raging hot favourite to win - though I thought Michael Collins would win (I voted for him). I also thought that either Mary Robinson or James Connolly would be last - Robinson because she cannot be described as "great" (confession here - I was one of 694,484 people who voted for Brian Lenihan Snr in the 1990 Presidential Election), and Connolly because Collins would get votes that might otherwise have gone to him.

Congratulations to John Hume for winning this accolade. He is a modest man and I'm sure that he is more than a bit embarrassed at being described as "Ireland's Greatest ever". He would be the first to give credit to the many others who worked hard to secure peace in Northern Ireland - he didn't do it by himself (though you would think so having viewed the RTE programme about him.

1 comment:

  1. I find the idea of naming any one person as the 'greatest ever' absurd. How do you compare historic figures (Collins, Connolly) with contemporary (Hume, Robinson)? Can any of them be reasonably compared with Bono or other celebrities?

    Mary Robinson can surely be described as 'great' - a tireless campaigner for legal and constitutional reform in Ireland, our first woman president, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and more