David McWilliams: Meet Sliotar Mom, Dad Bod and the Stovelanders
Our columnist has a new cast of characters, the inhabitants of post-recession Ireland
Renaissance Nation: Dad Bod, from David McWilliams’s new book. Illustration: Mark Flood
Sliotar Mom, the suburban GAA goddess, arrives on time with her perfect “can I see the manager” hair-do. Her kids, Lorcan, Tadhg and Aoibhinn, symmetrically spaced, two years apart, bound out of the Citroën Picasso, non-single-use water bottles in hand. This woman could orchestrate the invasion of a small country.
Dad Bod can be spotted early on a Sunday in Enniskerry, Clonakilty or Connemara, resplendent in fluorescent yellows, pinks and lilacs, up on his feather-light carbon-framed bike, the Irish Mamil in all his glory, 100kg of man on 10kg of bike. Cycling is the new golf. Next stop, Iron Man.
Quango Man is having a great Brexit, like he had a great Y2K and a great foot-and-mouth crisis; he’s the Government’s go-to guy, a great man for a task force, loves a committee and can’t turn down a working group – all at taxpayers’ expense. And Brexit? He hasn’t been in such demand since the IMF hit town.
No one told her she’d still be in a house-share in Rathgar with 10 other people at 31, selling ad space on social media, ffs! At this stage she’d expected to have her own little urban place, ceiling-to-floor bookshelves and a few herbs in the backyard. But here she is in her boyfriend jeans, brogues and vintage Casio watch, smoking her new fella’s vape. The Fringe isn’t even sure about this lad. In fact she’s not sure about the fringe any more.
Tattooed arms, beard, vape and aviator sunglasses, camo shirt with sleeves rolled up to show off his bespoke tattooed sleeve, he does a mean impression of a shot-down Luftwaffe pilot. His girlfriend, the Fringe, claims they could save money if they lived together, but he’s not sure. What’s next? Kids? He’s not up for that – they cost a fortune.
Although it is egregiously Trumpian to lavish money on anything mechanical, electrical or oil-based, a sign of true sophistication is forking out thousands on an environmentally friendly, family-friendly, Danish-friendly wood-burning stove. Stovelanders regard themselves as a bit classier than the rest. Hygge is their catechism. The tabernacle in this cosy cocoon is the wood-fired stove.
Wexicans are Dubs driven out of Dublin by property prices and now stranded in Wexford. You will spot them in their Dubs shirts staggering through the unfamiliar surroundings of Gorey. Given the enormous invasion of Wexicans who stream over the Wexican frontier towards Dublin every day for work, don’t be surprised if some political former dragon suggests building a wall to keep the Wexicans out.
The Banana Republic
The Banana – built absolutely nothing anywhere near anything – Republic is one of the more salubrious places to live, with worryingly high rates of addiction to San Pellegrino and Nespresso pods. Banana Republicans are liberal, tolerant and accepting of all newcomers, unless you are a developer who intends developing any land within 15km of them. In which case they turn all feral and McGregor on you.
These characters feature in Renaissance Nation: How the Pope’s Children Rewrote the Rules for Ireland, by David McWiliams, published on November 2nd by Gill Books, €22.99