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We've Been Outed As U2 Haters So Why Are The Irish Such A Nation Of Begrudgers?

By James Fenton

July 13, 2017 at 3:32pm

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While Grogans Pub on South William Street is one of Dublin's most popular spots for a pint, its clientele can hardly be described as a microcosm of the whole population of Ireland.

That said, given its central location in the capital and reputation as a hub for tourists and locals alike, we can see why The Guardian newspaper chose it as a place to gauge the opinion of the Irish everyman on home-grown rock icons U2. 

In a piece earlier this week called 'Where the streets have no statues: 'Why do the Irish hate U2?', the publication examined the popularly-held belief that Bono and the lads, despite their international success, are viewed with disdain in their own country. 

A quick search on the ever-reliable Wikipedia will tell you that U2's '360' tour of 2009-2011 is the highest-grossing concert tour of all time while their 2005-2006 'Vertigo' tour lies in a respectable sixth position. 

However, in their opening paragraph of the Guardian's article, writer Dean Van Nguyen states:

"If another country produced the biggest guitar band in the world – let alone one with a population of just 4.8 million – you’d expect airports to be named after them. But walk around the musicians’ home city of Dublin and you’ll barely see an image of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. 

"There’s no major mural solely dedicated to the group. You might, though, catch some graffiti scrawled on concrete walls and darkened doorways, opining in classically Irish slang that, “Bono is a Pox”."

For a nation which has always been known for our poetic way with words, the term 'Bono is a pox" has gathered a considerable amount of speed in recent years. 

So what reasons were given in Grogans as to why Bono is a pox and more specifically why are U2 greeted with indifference at best on their own streets? 

One respondent said:

“I don’t really like him. Maybe it’s because he’s a bit sanctimonious. It might be the glasses as well. He never takes off those glasses.”

Bono has, of course, stated that he wears the glasses because he has glaucoma but that's neither here nor there. The respondent who issued this verdict interestingly precursed it with this:

“I think it’s quite an accomplishment for Bono. He does so much for charity and the poor and yet people still do hate him.”

Quite an accomplishment indeed. As the investigation in question took place within the confines of a public house, it can be safe to assume that some contributors may have been a couple of drinks deep and the following response is another interesting one. 

“We don’t like them because they did well. They're not The Dubliners, The Pogues, even The Cranberries. They all weren't that big. But U2 did very well."

Ah, the mortal sin against the Irish. Take our eyes but thou must not achieve any sustained level of success in your chosen field. 

Another patron tells the tale of:

"Two men looking up at a big house on a hill. The first man vows that one day he’ll live in a home that’s just as opulent. The second, from Ireland, curses the owner and pledges that one day he’ll wring their neck."

Begrudgery is a trait we've always held dear. We've had numerous Irish targets to roll our eyes at as the years have gone by. 

Robbie Keane, ya can keep us in the World Cup by sticking the ball in the German net but don't be getting ideas above your station. The O'Donovan brothers can win us a pair of Olympic medals but aren't they a pair of gobshites really? Being one-fifth of one of the most successful boy bands of all time? Shame on you, Niall Horan. 

Colin Farrell you were alright on Ballykissangel but after your movie success, we had to disown you. Ryan Tubridy, you're good on the radio but ya shouldn't be near The Late Late Show. Conor McGregor, who to be fair gives haters a lot of ammo, is disdained by many purely because of his success. 

Our contempt is not limited to people from Ireland though. We'll bang on about Coldplay being bland and dreary but we'll scramble for tickets when they come to Croke Park. 

Ed Sheeran sold a record 300,000 tickets for his 2018 Irish tour yet people feel the need to express their hatred for his inoffensive brand music online. 

Calm down, lads, maybe it's just not for you? 

Back to the original point. Amidst all the U2 hate, you can guarantee that next Saturday morning, social media will be abuzz with the FOMO brigade asking for any spare tickets for their gig at Croke Park. Of course, 7 million people who attended their last tour can't be wrong. The bandwagons will roll down Jones' Road on the way in and the wheels will come off on the way out. 

Bono will bang out the well-known hits and probably give a speech about some cause or another, The Edge will strum away with his hat on and everyone will have a good time. But don't expect any praise on social media or in offices around the country on Monday. 

As Mr. Van Nguyen puts it:

"In other words, the nation’s dislike of U2 is classic Irish begrudgery – the phenomenon that Irish people are predisposed to feel envy and resentment towards those who achieve a certain level of success."

If you haven't read Van Nguyen's full article you can do so here. It's very good. The gobshite. 

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