Fintan O’Toole: Maria Bailey and the snapping of the Irish hard neck

The Irish neck is both very soft and as leathery as an equestrian’s undercarriage

Maria Bailey. Listening to the Fine Gael TD being interviewed by Seán O’Rourke was like watching a clutch of ducklings waddle into the blades of a combine harvester. Photograph: Barbara Lindberg

Maria Bailey. Listening to the Fine Gael TD being interviewed by Seán O’Rourke was like watching a clutch of ducklings waddle into the blades of a combine harvester. Photograph: Barbara Lindberg

We have some neck. Indeed, the Irish neck is a many-splendoured thing. It is at once incredibly soft and unbelievably hard, as fragile as gossamer and as leathery as an old equestrian’s undercarriage.

The soft neck means we are unusually vulnerable to whiplash injuries. The hard neck allows us to brazen out lavish insurance claims for the pain and suffering they cause us. And this unique combination of qualities means that Irish neck is recognised around the world as an object of rare value. In common with Irish limbs and Irish backs, it fetches a premium price in the courts.

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