I may be a Dub (not an honest-to-God, true blue Northsider, Joe Duffy, kind of a Dub; yet a Dub nonetheless), but I love Monaghan. I can't place my finger on why, exactly, I like this county so much; in large part I expect it is the unique way it keeps a cultural foot firmly North and South of the border all at once. On top of that, the centre of Monaghan town is quite well preserved; efforts have been made to boost the town's cultural stock through the County Museum and the various theatres and drama groups, plus there's the archaeological society. In short, Monaghan does a pretty good job of balancing the best of the rural with the best of the urban.
But my enthusiasm for the Big M isn't shared by the native Monaghanites - wherever I go, whenever people hear my accent, the first question is always "Why in the name of God would you move to Monaghan?" When I express my admiration for the town, and for the county generally, they stare at me in disbelief, before reciting the litany of all that is wrong with the area: the lack of a full hospital, the factories shutting down, no motorway to Dublin, insufficient businesses in the town, and so on.
Such disgruntlement could be easily dismissed as simply the disillusionment that has spread throughout the country since the Celtic Tiger bit the dust, but what is truly revealing is not the negative attitude which pervades the town, but rather the factor which Monaghan people blame for their travails.
The supposed cause of their woes is usually revealed when they contrast Monaghan with nearby Cavan. "You see Cavan," they tell me "That's a great town. They've got great politicians over there; they get them all sorts of things. Sure why else do they still have a hospital?"
Now, I never have the heart to point out that the county of Monaghan actually has 4 of the 5 TDs (members of parliament) in the constituency of Cavan-Monaghan, and that 2 of the 4 Monaghan TDs are in the governing Fianna Fail party. More worrying though, is the attitude that has developed (all over Ireland, not just in Monaghan) that a politician's only job is to get things for their locality, even if this is to the detriment of the nation as a whole. In many countries politics might be ultimately local, but in Ireland politics is only, and ever, local.
The sad irony is, of course, that this fixation on the tribalisms of who gets what at county level (counties are, after all, by and large based on the old borders of tribal kingdoms) actually ensures that all of us get substandard and ineffective services. Monaghan, and the whole country, would arguably be better served by having no "local TDs" but rather by having national governments that, in a bold revolutionary move, actually governed the country.
Besides, if any Monaghan people are reading this, just remember that Monaghan has Dinkin's bakery. And by God, I've not tasted the like of their ginger wheaten bread anywhere else on earth: compared to that sort of a luxury, motorways are overrated!
In short, I'm a disgruntled Irishman who is witnessing the slow-decline of his once mighty nation ... ok, ok maybe not once mighty, but certainly once competent. Join me as I watch Ireland's future subside slowly into a bog of poor governance, corruption and me feinism. Also, I like to peruse the wise words of web authorities on diverse issues from the rise of China to the history of Ancient Rome, in a generally futile effort to become knowledgeable about the world beyond our misty shores.