In a word . . . Artist

 

There exists a baseless snobbery when it comes to art, as though it is reserved only for practitioners of painting, literature, poetry, drama, dance, non-popular music, etc.

Sport, for instance, never rates. Yet it has all the ingredients of tragedy, with great character often brought down by a single flaw on the field of play. There is also such as Mayo whose struggles to win another All-Ireland title long ago surpassed the length of any quality TV series.

And there is genius. In 2013 a friend sent me a text in Rome following reports that the new Pope was Argentinian. “I thought it must be Messi, then I realised Messi is God,” he said. To see Messi or Ronaldo or George Best in action is to witness the divine at work.

Remember Galway hurler Joe Canning’s winning point in the last seconds of injury-time during the hurling semi-final against Tipperary last August? It pushed Galway into the All-Ireland final. Which they won. Such sublime skill and mastery, such grace under pressure.

“A flick pass, a strike and the place went into orbit,” wrote colleague Malachy Clerkin. “Galway go to another final, Tipp go home to another one-in-a-row. The rest of us go and lie down,” he added.

Malachy was in similar form describing a more recent blessed moment of pure art on the field. This time it was last month when Ireland beat England to win the Grand Slam. It concerned Tadhg Furlong’s pass to Bundee Aki in the lead up to CJ Stander’s try.

“There was something so completely transporting in that millisecond of poetry from Furlong that it feels here and now this morning like it will outlive everything else. The delicate grace of it as he sold the intent of full-on rumble to the English defence was like watching a heavy-metal drummer balance his stick on the back of his hand mid-solo. By the time you noticed it, it was over.”

And there is the frequently unacknowledged artistry of traditional music. At the recent funeral service for Liam O’Flynn, friend Paddy Glackin recalled how the piper played with colleagues like Sean Keane “whose trembling string would kind of wrap itself around the drones of the chanter in the most loving musical embrace . . . it was absolutely beautiful.” And it was.

Artist, one who cultivates ‘one of the fine arts’ (?). From Middle French artiste, Italian artista, Latin ars

inaword@irishtimes.com

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