One Has to Admire His Ability As A Poet



From top: Poet Kevin Higgins: Anthony Cronin

On the passing of  Anthony Cronin, poet, writer and Charles Haughey’s cultural attaché.

One Has To Admire His Ability As A Poet

“I was struck by … his courage in speaking out to defend the memory of Charles Haughey”
Vincent Woods, RTÉ website

To defend the memory of Boris Yeltsin’s
vodka bottle. To take money from both the late Benito
Mussolini and, when pragmatism demanded it, those
who spat on him when he was safely
hanging upside down outside an Esso station.
To put in the proper context of realpolitik
as practised in parts of County Wexford
the late Father Fortune’s harem of boys.
To share a Ouija board with President Duvalier
while supping rum from the skull of an infant
who was always going to come to this
because, in the words of W.H.Auden,
‘poetry makes fuck-all difference’.
To share a roast leg with General Amin
and not mind which of his enemies was being eaten.
To recite even his longer poems
to a musical accompaniment of Vladimir Putin
twanging his jock-strap, like a rude balalaika.
To roll around wrapped in the French flag
with Marine Le Pen, whispering
in her cockle shell the words ‘Barbie, Bormann,
Goering’, because that’s the sort of thing
an advocate for the arts must sometimes do.

Kevin Higgins

First published by Poethead (curated by Christine Murray).


13 thoughts on “One Has to Admire His Ability As A Poet

  1. Cot

    Spot on. Anthony Cronin was an opportunistic creep, the only thing he was interested in was himself and his own pockets. And Haughey wasn’t the only person that Cronin spent his life brown-nosing.

    1. Nigel

      If that was the point of the poem (which I like, a lot) then it undermines itself by showing that in the grand scheme of things the person he was brown-nosing could have been a lot worse.

      1. Cot

        Haughey was one of the only people Cronin could brown-nose. He was a small fish in a smaller pond. God knows he would’ve licked up to more ‘important’ people had Ireland had them. Cronin’s whole life was one of self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment.

      2. The Lady Vanishes

        No undermining at all, Nigel, the fact that the person a brown-noser is brown-nosing ‘could have been a lot worse’ would only be a mitigation of brown nosing if that fact had been taken into account by the brown-noser in deciding what ass to sniff, in practice brown-nosers make this choice on the basis of personal gain only. I presume the point is that the subject would have befriended and defended far worse men than Charles Haughey if he had something to gain from it.

  2. bisted

    …whether we like it or not, history will show that the treatment of the arts and artists in Ireland has been shameful. The only exception was under the enlightened direction of Charlie Haughey. If Cronin can claim some credit for this then fairplay.
    …Anthony Cronin lived alongside some of Ireland’s great artistic talent and his greatest talent was that he recognised it. His memoir of these greats ‘Dead as Doornails’ has to be one of the funniest books in print. Cronin and his mates came up with the idea of Bloomsday and the benifit of this alone far outweighs any largesse he was able to squese from the philistines in government.
    …Brendan Behan once said that Ireland had a standing army of poets that seldom dropped below twenty thousand…I’m not sure either of the labour party Higgins’ would have made the cut.

    1. Fact Checker

      “history will show that the treatment of the arts and artists in Ireland has been shameful.”


      How about:
      -Aosdána – an artists-only stipend for LIFE for over a hundred of them
      -Tax – very favourable tax treatment of income tax from artistic work
      -Arts Council grants – four- and five-figure bursaries to dozens of artists annually

      (None of this is a bad thing in my opinion btw)

      Statistics will be tricky I cannot think of a country with more big-name novelists and poets per capita than Ireland.

      1. Nigel

        ‘The only exception was under the enlightened direction of Charlie Haughey.’

        There are only two things I ever hear people ‘defending’ Haughey for – legaiising contraception and provisions for support of the arts.

  3. Peter Dempsey

    Fast forward 500 years. Aliens land on Earth. They want to see an example of narcissism and bitter hatred from the 2000s.

    Recommendation: just study the poetry and general behaviour of Galway’s chief whinger Kevin Higgins.

    1. Cot

      Or just have a look at how much money Anthony Cronin was given by the state for doing very little but giving Haughey a fig-leaf of cultural respectability.

  4. mauriac

    Charlus took a few bungs etc. but to compare him to Mussolini,Idi Amin,and the Nazis shows an insane lack of perspective.

    Also : de mortuus nihil nissi bonnum .

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