Ireland is more obsessed with Britain’s royals than they are with Ireland

Diarmuid Ferriter: Our appetite for the TV series The Crown shows no sign of dimming

The official trailer for season four of hit Netflix show The Crown. Video: Netflix

Almost 20 years ago, Irish Dominican monk Patrick Hederman told an amusing story about his mother. In 1936, she seemed very knowledgeable about the royal abdication crisis as a result of Edward VIII’s relationship with Wallis Simpson, despite attempts to keep such filthy foreign news out of Ireland: “When my mother began to tell people at parties in Dublin, they thought she was off her head. Being a conscientious Catholic she asked a Jesuit priest whether it was libel, detraction, or scandal to be spreading news that was common knowledge in America but completely unknown over here. ‘I’m not quite sure which it is’, he said ‘but it’s very interesting, tell me more’”

The interest was sustained over the decades; Mary Kenny’s 2009 book Crown and Shamrock is an intriguing dissection of what she calls “love and hate between Ireland and the British monarchy”. In the summer of 1953 when she was aged 9 and living with her aunt and uncle in Sandymount, they, leaving Mary behind, headed off to a private soirée in the local Methodist Hall where, behind closed doors, they watched the film of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. When this was revealed to Mary, she was told not to tell anyone: this was a clandestine and guilty pleasure, it seemed, especially because Dublin cinemas had withdrawn plans to show it following bomb threats from the Anti-Partition League.

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