If we winter this one out, we can summer everywhere …
Dublin academic Diarmaid Ferriter wrote this paragraph (below) as part of an obituary for the environmentalist Tim Robinson, who has sadly died in Connemara from coronavirus at the age of 85.
We need to confront the mixed signals that are sent to artists at a time of crisis. Understandably, there has been a reaching for Derek Mahon (“There will be dying, there will be dying/but there is no need to go into that/Everything is going to be alright”), or Seamus Heaney (“if we winter this one out, we can summer everywhere”), but in the aftermath of crises in the past, practical support for artists has crumbled as something supposedly non-essential. Reflecting on the legacy of our civil war almost a century ago, writer George Russell (AE) wondered what the lessons of trauma were. One of them, he suggested, was profoundly dispiriting: that the new Ireland had “hardly deflected a hair’s breadth from the old cultural lines”. We need, after this crisis, to sustain the old lines we have rediscovered and the new ones we have found.