Author Archives: Terry McMahon

From  top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (second right) and Minister for Health Simon Harris in Dublin Castle as results to repeal the 8th Amendment were coming through

Happened again yesterday. Happens most days now. They see you. A moment of recognition. A raising of the eyebrows. A gentle smile. And you do the same. It’s a moment. A kind of community. A sense of belonging. You’re not stopping. You never do. You don’t know each other well enough. But it’s still warm. Always was.

Then the smile stops. The lips tighten. The eyes deaden. Repeal remembered. They forgot to remember to hate you.

Many are from the Arts. The world of film, theatre, television and books. Compassionate. Good people. Some are cowards. That’s inevitable. But some are not. Some are even talented. Some are even activists. Some even reflect that in their work.

Their result was a foregone conclusion. A campaign too brilliant to fail. Initially, I was conflicted. But I was on their side. I had to be. That’s what community means. Until they forget to remember to hate you.

So I did what I always do. Did what I should do. Did what artists are supposed to do. Sought out the underdog. Searched for the other side. Listened to the opposite.

But this wasn’t a time for questions. This was a time for banal acquiescence. Blind obedience. Political absolutes. With or against. Feminist or misogynist. Yes or No. And when you vote, don’t forget to remember to hate.

Equality is a tool of division now. Compassion an ideological weapon. Human rights sans the human. So what if you’re conflicted? So what if this was devised to divide? I’d still be on their side. Still defend them. Still present both sides.

Even after the comical unfriending. The defiant blocking. The shameful prejudice. The rabid ridicule. By the new radicals. These fearless feminists. These political women and men. These masters in the art of never forgetting to remember to hate you.

I’m lucky enough to have friends on all sides. Some are artists. Some are activists. Some are neither. All are Humanists. Some are in complex agreement. Some have profound differences. All have fundamental fears. Morally. Ethically. Intellectually. They talk. They fight. They love. They get closer. And they teach me to reach for the impossible. They teach me to attempt to understand. They teach me to forget to remember to hate.

Some of them say a zygote has no identity. A fetus has got no soul. No reason to be included. No rationale to be alive. No constitution to protect them. And that’s the done deal now. The good people have spoken. Death by Democracy.

Even then, I’d still try to see their side. Still empathise. Still understand. Despite wondering how censorship had become a badge of honour. Despite realising you can’t pose the wrong questions. Despite asking yourself what kind of dumb fuck are you to forget to remember to hate?

Then that day happened. Not the election. Not the result. Not the campaign. All of that I could understand. It was that damned day in Dublin Castle.

As a community chanted their names. The two Health Ministers. One serving. One Taoiseach. Both Feminists. Sex symbols. Hashtag heroes. Psychopaths. A Bacchanalian blowjob for politicians presiding over the murder of women. The pimps of privatisation. The czars of cervical cancer. The austerity men who never forget to remember to hate you.

And you realise you’ll never understand. You realise you know nothing. You realise your soul is lost. Your mind is bludgeoned. Your heart is crushed. Your belief has bled out. And that might be why you notice those constant smiles that turn stern. That warm that turns cold. That compassionate rejection.

From people you still respect. From women and men you still adore. From the work you still love. From the community you still embrace. Even if they never forget to remember to hate you.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69


Terry McMahon (front centre) with friends from the class of 1988 in Mullingar Vocational School at their 30-year reunion last Saturday

Terry McMahon writes:

Sometimes you just get lucky in life.

We went to a Christian Brothers School, up to the age of twelve. Our teacher was a nonce. Served a lengthy sentence for multiple counts of child sex abuse. He had his own private bathroom in the class. How transparent. Bastard tried it with me. First time I fought an adult. And almost won.

That was our primary school. Couldn’t get out of the place fast enough. But the nonce had other plans. The Christian Brothers had a secondary school next door. I was destined to go there. We had to do an entrance exam. But it was all a done deal. An all boys school. All ripe. All ready.

On the other side of town was the Vocational School. The Tech, they called it. The shithole. For the poor folks and the dumb fucks. The rejects. The rabble. At least that’s what the snobs said. The snobs and the Christian Brothers. It was also a mixed school. Boys and girls. Nobody ripe. Nobody ready. All curious as hell.

We used to have to line up for the nonce before entering class. He was from Belfast and reckoned himself a quasi-military man. The boys he wasn’t sexually aroused by he simply beat.

He had a Masters Degree in Humiliation. The day of the entrance exam for the shithole school, he ordered the boys who were going to do the exam to take one step forward. Every poor bastard he had ever tried to break stepped forward. The rest of us stayed where we were. He was happy with the result. A line of winners and losers. Eugenics in full flow.

I was too scared to breathe. Sweating. Paralysis. But some things need to be done. I forced my skinny, trembling, twelve-year-old frame to step forward. The nonce did a double take. Loving the theatre of his own making.

He stood in front of me. I could smell his cigarette breath. Feel his spit on my face. He told me to get back in line. Everything in me wanted to fold like a cheap accordion. But I looked at him. My voice barely broken yet. I said, “I’m going.”

He didn’t get angry. He got off on the skinny defiance. Grinned. Aroused. ‘Okay, boy.’ Your skin would crawl at the way he used the word ‘boy.’ He put his mouth close to my ear but spoke loudly so everyone could appreciate his stature.

‘You can do the exam but you’re not going to that school. Ya hear me, boy?’

I nodded. Defeated. Knowing he was right. Knowing that the entrance exam for the Christian Brothers secondary school was the following Saturday. Knowing my fate was sealed.

We crossed town to get to the shithole school. Me and that motley crew of miscreants. Some of the best men I would ever meet. We had to go through a public park.

The closer you got, the more you could feel the greasy grip of the Christian Brothers lessen. And the girls. Everywhere. One more beautiful than the next. We were only twelve years old but it felt like our hearts were too big for our chests.

We sat the exam. Giddy with hormones. Then returned to our Christian Brother madhouse. The nonce ridiculed us as we took our seats. A particularly ugly grin for me. ‘See you at the exam on Saturday, boy.’ I wanted to punch his head in. Perhaps someone is doing it to him in prison right now.

That Saturday morning my folks got me and my brother up early to sit the Christian Brothers entrance exam. I said nothing. Ate breakfast. A simple plan had formed. Only a simpleton could have come up with it. We walked there. Me and my athlete brother. Him, the perfect specimen for Christian Brother GAA glory. Me, the perfect gammy-legged gimp.

Halfway there, I stopped. Saluted my brother. And walked the opposite direction. He called after me. But I was gone. If I didn’t sit the Christian Brothers bullshit exam I couldn’t legally be allowed to attend the Christian Brothers bullshit school.

The nonce wanted me dead. Probably to fuck the corpse. But I was going to a place where raping children wasn’t the top priority of most of the teachers. The Tech.

A place so underfunded most of our classes were held in prefabs. A place so underestimated most of the students were deemed to be anonymous plebs to be exploited in the labour force.

A place so fucking beautiful it became our Paradise.

From day one everything was different. My brother’s secondary school seemed hellbent on ripping the underpants of every vulnerable boy so far up their backside that it took months for their testicles to recover. Wedgie, they called it. And how they laughed. Like psychopaths inhaling a deep y-fronted high only they could understand. We, on the other hand, were walking around a building possessed by angels. Real ones.

The girls were so much more mature than us that the idea of giving anybody a wedgie made you feel like a moron. While the boys in the Christian Brothers school were busy learning how to flick towels at naked arses in the shower room, we were getting lessons in how to be men. By the most formidable women we could ever dream of meeting.

The teachers were amazing too. Mostly. No doubt there was the odd degenerate. No doubt some of those girls have some of their own horror stories. No doubt those stories were buried, like everything else in our culture at that time. Just like now.

I remember the girl who told me what her father was doing to her at night when her mother went to bingo. She needed help. Decided I was the one to tell. I had no idea what to do. I approached the religion teacher. Not because I gave a fuck about religion. But because she was a beautiful woman. Inside and out. She handled it with the seriousness that it deserved. Then the girl told me it had stopped. But she looked sad. Not relieved. Soon after, she left school. Never saw her again.

There is a hundred-thousand stories to tell of that school. Of those people in it. Of the boys and the girls. First loves. Fist fights. Broken hearts. I hated home. But I loved that place. Mornings couldn’t come quick enough. Entering that building was like strolling into a John Hughes movie.

Every snobbish statement about the school proved to be horseshit. Our headmaster was the wisest, kindest, white-haired man a kid could ever hope to encounter. Same with most of the teachers. All the way to the janitor. We were too young to recognise just how remarkable our world was. It was rare as diamonds. And more valuable.

I had to leave the place at fifteen. Never got to finish school. Do the Leaving Cert. Go to the Graduation Dance. All the rituals. Big chip on the shoulder afterwards. For decades. But life went on. Stayed in touch with some. Lost contact with others. Yet always felt warm memories of all of them. Then a message came through. On Facebook. A Thirty Year Reunion.

It happened last Saturday. The night was long. The stimulants intoxicating. And the company sublime. The snap (top) of some of the many magnificent people who were there was taken before I snuck out the back door at about 3am. Hopped a taxi back to the hotel. Full to the brim with renewed love for these remarkable people.

Sometimes you just get lucky in life. Sometimes the Gods get together and decide to make magic in a rural town, in a shithole school, with the best folks a body could hope to meet.

And fuck the Christian Brothers.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69

Related: Christian Brother Stories

From top: Irish Film and Television (IFTA) 2018 actress nominees, from left: Sarah Bolger Saoirse Ronan and Ann Skelly; Terry McMahon

The elephant in the room is sitting on a woman.

Multiple people – women and men and possibly transgender – were nominated for this year’s Irish Film and Television Awards. Some folks are cynical about the IFTAs but huge kudos should be given to Áine Moriarty and Deirdre Hopkins for turning these awards into an increasingly impressive annual ceremony.

I have been nominated for a few IFTAs. I’ve presented a few of them. A film I made even won a few. But, this year, instead of celebrating the nominees, there has been a furious backlash to the announcement that only three women have been selected for the Lead Actress category.

Enraged pundits are demanding to know why there are so few central roles written for women. Demanding to know who precisely is stopping women writing and directing female-led films. Demanding to know whose heads will roll.

The Irish Film Board has created five different initiatives exclusively for female writers and directors. They did so because the uptake from female writers for an earlier gender defined initiative was far less than expected. The reason for this was put down to “unconscious bias.” Perhaps this is true. So let’s examine the conscious facts.

The Irish Film Board has 18 staff members. 15 women and three men.

The Irish Film Board has seven board members. Five are women. Two are men.

Screen Training Ireland – the educational arm of The Irish Film Board – has six staff members. Six women and no men.

There are films made without Film Board support but, in general, this means that the decision behind the funding and the development of Irish cinema is made by 26 women and five men.

(It’s difficult to ascertain precisely how many script editors the Film Board is facilitating but anecdotal evidence suggests the significant majority are women.)

We need to name the elephant in the room. The male elephant. We cannot move towards true equality until those five men are removed. And replaced by five women. It’s clear that those 5 men are the reason no scripts with central female roles are being written and directed by women. Shame on them. And shame on every man who idly allows this barbaric inequity to continue.

The evidence is clear. The answer is simple. Only when that ratio of 26 women to 5 men is addressed can we finally come clean about who is stopping women writing female-led scripts.

Only when a woman is finally able to sit down and write her female-led script without having five  men standing over her shoulder, dragging the pencil out of her fingers, or clogging up her keyboard with their male made muck, can we progress.

Only when that ratio of 26 women to 5 men becomes 31 women to zero men can we finally have the kind of equality that we all deserve.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69

The IFTas take place on Thursday, February 15.

Montage: IFTA


The Woodstock Film Festival, 2011, from left: Tim Palmer, Terry McMahon and Moe Dunford. Trailer for Charlie Casanova (2010)

This one is for you.

Facebook just reminded us that nine years ago a bunch of lunatics turned up during the worst winter on record to make a psychotic movie about the cancer of the controlling class.

Staring in panic at a blank page for a long time, before projectile vomiting a political script onto ninety of those pages, I was an unproduced hack, who had never directed a short film, much less a feature.

We had a budget of nine-hundred-quid, and our borrowed camera had to be back eleven days later, so that became our production schedule.

Snow bombarded the city but nobody backed out. Frost incapacitated the equipment but filming never stopped. Doubt crept in every second but nobody backed out. Eleven days later we got rat-assed drunk in the way that only a group which has been through hell together can. Awoke the next morning, aching to the bone, wondering if the footage we captured would get anywhere beyond the bottom of a drawer.

What chance did a messed-up little Irish film about a controlling class psychopath have on the world stage? Home-burned DVDs with the title hand-scrawled across them were submitted to film festivals, and we waited for Godot.

Then, Janet Pierson, head honcho of one of the world’s great film festivals, wanted our film to be the first Irish movie ever selected for the coveted SXSW Narrative Feature Competition. And we nearly shit ourselves.

‘Charlie Casanova’ ended up being picked up for distribution by Studio Canal and released in UK and Irish cinemas before being kicked to death by our critics.

We presumed we’d never make another film, particularly since we wanted to address the dehumanisation of people with mental illness; another subject nobody wanted to touch at the time; but five years later those same critics would pick our second film, ‘Patrick’s Day’, as Best Irish Film of the Year. Yet the more things change the more they remain the stagnant same.

Nearly a decade later it’s never been more difficult to make political cinema. Or political television.

The explosion in cheap technology in that decade should have opened the floodgates. But where are those films? Where is that cinematic rage? The controlling class, which we denied even existed a decade earlier, used austerity to relentlessly attack our most vulnerable. But perhaps they also succeeded in sidelining our artistic culture. Or are we just cowards?

Who the hell knows what our collective future holds. Nobody could have believed a decade ago that we’d become the country we are today. What we become in the next decade is wide open.

There are brilliant filmmakers out there. Some of them we already know. Men and women born to make magic. But maybe some of them are as yet unknown. Maybe some of them have yet to dive into the madness of their first movie, penned in panic and made for no money. Maybe some of them have yet to put pen to their first blank page.

Maybe one of them is you.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69


Filmmaker Terry McMahon raises and answers a pressing question at the ‘Home For All’ concert, outside Leinster House, Dublin 2 organised by Inner City Helping Homeless.

No swearing.

Yesterday: Bringing It All Back Home

Previously: Terry McMahon: Apollo House, Simon Coveney and Lying for a Living

Terry McMahon

Dedicated to the Broadsheet trolls, it’s that sacred time of year again when, being too broke to buy you a gift, you get the innocent true tale of Christmas Number Two… 

But…what if it’s a number two?’ I queried, determined to prevent my stammer getting in the way of the most important question I had ever asked. My mother and father were putting my brother, sister, and me to bed while explaining the necessity of Christmas Eve bladder control.

My mother reasoned I should perhaps focus more on simply not wetting the bed rather than worrying about that other specific bodily function. Santa, you see, didn’t look too kindly on children who couldn’t wait to get to the bathroom, children who, instead, did their number one under the bed covers.

My slightly older sister was generous and comforting and warm, inspiring the kind of confidence in my bowels that could make a child sleep in security. My brother? All that bastard had to do was glance at me.

But what if it’s not a number one?’ I persisted, ‘What if it really is a number two?’

My mother paused, and gently said, “Santa leaves you a bag of coal.”

Christmas in our house was the most exquisite time of year. Every dodgy and dubious event of the previous eleven months were wiped away and replaced by the greatest gifts man or boy could yearn for. In the darkness, lit only by the hand-held torch in my father’s fingers, we’d silently slip down the stairs, fearing to breathe in case Santa might still be here.

My father would slowly open the sitting-room door to reveal our own private toy store under the Christmas tree. We were allowed to request three gifts from Santa but every year there would be multiple surprises to accompany those three choices and the surprises often outdid the original requests.

We lived in Dalton Park in Mullingar, and a great place it was to live in too, with Christmas morning spilling out onto the streets, kids cycling new bikes, shooting bows and arrows and trading Santa stories.

This year, however, was going to be strange. This year there was going to be a different kind of surprise, a surprise not deposited by Santa under the tree, a surprise that was the result of indulgent overeating, youthful anxiety, and the merest hint of diarrhea; and, rather than lying under the Christmas tree, this particular surprise had been deposited by me into the nether regions of my Action Man underwear.

It was my brother who woke me. The early morning scent in the small shared room made it difficult for him to sleep, difficult for him to breathe, so he did what any loving brother would do, he pulled back the bedcovers and laughed at my personal misery.

This was to be my Christmas, a bag of coal from Santa and a lifetime of ridicule from my brother.

I begged him to say nothing. He did what any loving brother would do, he made a deal. I’d give him half of all monies received from relatives this year plus take regular beatings, without retaliation, at his whim, for a month. I wanted to scream out at the injustice, rail against the gods for giving me spontaneous bowels and smash his brotherly face in, but, instead, I agreed.

So there we are, the whole family, on the top step, me at the back, peering at that downstairs doorway of delight, watching the round moon of light flickering from the brandished torch. Nobody knew anything and I was about to get away with it. My tiny problem had ceased to exist and we were poised for the greatest Christmas ever.

But midway down the stairs my father stopped in sudden surprised silence, and quietly asked, with a tenderness and kindness that was almost moving, ‘Did someone fart?’ I presumed that being last in the queue had secured my tenable position but I hadn’t considered that the upstairs window was open, allowing air to slip through, with my family all downwind of me – me and my cotton-covered catastrophe.

Everybody denied it, none more vociferously than I. To my overwhelming relief my father continued on down the stairs. But he breathed again, and he got it again – that peculiar scent you only get from the most damaged bowels – and it took all of two steps for him to stop again, him and his wolfhound nose, ‘Someone definitely farted…’

He followed that up with the two worst words in the English language, ‘…or worse.’

Under such pressure my brother did what any loving brother would do and ratted me out, “Terry did a number two in his undies!” My stammer returned in spades and as I tried to articulate my defecated devastation, all my parents could make out, through the snot-punctuated sobs, was the terrified phrase, ‘…bag of coal.’

As they calmed me down, then hosed me down, I realised how naive I had been to believe I could scam Santa, how arrogant it had been of me to think I could pull such a stunt on the coolest fat man there ever was and I reconciled myself to the reality that a bag of coal was indeed what it was going to be this year.

They brought me into the sitting-room, and of course instead of the bag of coal there was the most stunning array of gifts. As I jumped out of their arms and ploughed into that mountain of gifts, it may be true nobody wanted to stand too close to me, but I didn’t care, Santa had come through for me and the world was a beautiful place again.

And I never did do the number two under the covers again. Until I was thirty-two. But that’s a food poisoning story that, trust me, nobody needs to hear on this festive occasion. 

Or any occasion.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69

    From top: an internet troll; Terry McMahon

If you want insight into the undertow of our poisoned culture then look no further than the comments section of

A fearless website, Broadsheet also seems to attract the ugliest kind of anonymous cowards.

Soon as the site posted a short personal piece celebrating the courage of [Medicinal cannabis campaigners] Vera Twomey, and her husband Paul, this was the first comment:

Wow man i’m like so real, I get to use bad language in my screeds
I’m the street, man, I’m the life itself
You better recognise

This was followed by the usual litany of insults and sneers from a long line of nameless faceless keyboard warriors waiting in the wings.

I can take their malignancy but is it not disturbing that when these people read about a heroic mother and father protecting their beautiful daughter, their immediate and only response is to ignore that heroism and attack the hack who penned the piece?

Who are you? On the streets, or in bars, or restaurants, or playgrounds, or in any aspect of day to day life, I never seem to meet you. The vast majority of the folks I meet are good people. Fighting to stay afloat. Looking after each other. Being brave. Being kind.

Where are you emotional, psychological, political, intellectual parasites? Where do you go during the day? Or at night? Are the innumerable good people I meet not part of the real word? The real Ireland? Am I just naive?

Are they just a bubble of decent people surrounded by you bilious bastards?

Where does your scorn come from? Your cowardly rage. Your articulate rabies. What might happen if you redirected the cancer of your collective cowardice into positive and pragmatic action?

What might happen if your keyboard-stained sticky-keyboard-stained-fingers were used to build something? What might happen if you used your privileged intelligence to attract rather than attack?

These are genuine questions. An attempt to understand you. To empathise with you. To rehumanise you.

Then again, you’ve probably been too busy composing your next contemptuous comment to have even gotten to the end of this piece.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker. Twitter:@terrymcmahon69

From top: Vera Twomey; Terry McMahon

Yesterday, Minister for Health Simon Harris granted Ava Barry, age seven, a special licence to be prescribed medicinal cannabis at her home in Cork.

Ava suffers from Dravets Syndrome and her parents Vera and Paul say cannabis oil, prescribed in The Hague where the family moved in June, has helped preventtheir daughter from having seizures.

Before going to the Netherlands, Vera took a well-publicised trip to Spain to secure the oil and take it back to Cork.

Terry McMahon writes:

Got a text late one night. Someone was looking for my number. Was it okay to pass it on? Anybody who wants my number can have it. Couple of minutes later the phone vibrated. Rarely answer the thing at night but this was different. She introduced herself. Voice unmistakable. Softer than I’d heard it on television.

But those circumstances were different. I wasn’t trying to rob her daughter of life-saving medicine. That was the first time I spoke with Vera Twomey. Five hours later we were standing on a security line waiting to board a plane to Barcelona.

Sitting in the airport that morning with Vera and her husband Paul should have been uncomfortable. Should have felt awkward. Should have had some kind of logic to make the three of us feel like we knew what the hell we were doing. But we didn’t. We were going on instinct.

A little girl was in a fight for her life against the gigantic ego of a Minister For Health. Nothing else mattered. That Minister refused to believe in miracles. Refused to believe in any power other than his own. Refused to recognize he was being given a lesson on the power of love by the parents of the little girl that he was intent on ignoring. But you don’t ignore Vera Twomey.

Paul walked us to the security gates. Me and his wife. Two strangers. A brief holiday is all. The camera hanging against my chest with the lens exposed. A tourist cliché. Paul said look after her. Out of earshot. A whisper. Humbling to shake the hand of such a man.

We were being watched as we went through security. Vera had been arrested a short time ago. Her arrest made headlines around the world. A mother’s love etched on the front page. They didn’t try to hide the fact that we were being watched either. But they didn’t know they were being watched too. The camera lens was exposed for a reason. The red light recording sound and vision virtually invisible. Hiding in clear sight.

We arrived in Barcelona. Already getting to know each other on the plane. No time for pretense. Everything from the heart. Bullshit free. We were staying in Las Ramblas. Iconic hotel. Perfect rooms. Barcelona beauty. We had less than twenty-four hours.

And every minute would be used. Some of the most remarkably humane people a soul could yearn to connect with appeared. Courageous, inspiring and generous beyond measure, these people put everything on the line to help others. And were reviled for it. Mistrusted. Criminalised. While our Minister sat on a fat salary for doing nothing.

Sometimes all it takes is a simple plan. Do the right thing. We all know what the right thing is. Most of the time. But Vera and Paul, and their incredible daughter Ava, had been repeatedly lied to by the Minister and his coterie of cowards. Then maligned. Then ignored. Then politely dragged away by police.

Vera needed a new plan. And she hatched it in Barcelona. The food tasted incredible that night. As did the wine. As did the air. That’s how bravery affects the senses. The opposite of how our Minister’s cowardice dulls them.

Back in Dublin next morning security was waiting for us. More of them than usual. Ready. I held back. Separated. Not to conceal anything. The camera was in full view. Except for the tiny red recording light. They searched her. They searched me. They questioned us. They could have been bastards. But they weren’t. They did their job. Meticulously.

But you could tell their hearts weren’t in it. Their hearts were bigger than this bullshit charade. They were mothers and fathers. They were in awe of Vera Twomey. Almost as much as I was.

That’s the impact Vera Twomey has. The impact Paul has. They make you believe corrupt politicians can be exposed. Because they just did it. They make you believe in the impossible. Because they just made it happen. They make you believe love moves mountains. Because it fucking does.

Terry McMahon is a homelessness activist, acting coach and award-winning film director. Follow Terry on Twitter: @Terrymcmahon69

Previously: Vera Twomey on broadsheet

Terry McMahon

Two hundred transition year school kids and their teachers sat in The Axis Theatre in Ballymun yesterday. A panel of artists was facilitating a ‘Creative Space’ event. Having worked with groups of these young men at The Axis for the past few of years, I was asked to be on that panel.

Without patronising the kids, or boring the arses off them, we were asked to define the meaning of the word, “Creative.”

Inimitable Master of Ceremonies, Dean Scurry introduced the poet Stephen James Smith who spoke candidly about his Dyslexia before performing a remarkable rendition of his poem ‘Dublin You Are.’

Polish dancer Matt Szczerek rocked the place with a display of his physical prowess while Finian Murphy from the HSC cracked a couple of light-hearted jokes to counterbalance the seriousness of the subject they were trying to fund.

5th Element’s Ger Kellet tore the roof off with a performance of an original track and Christian Tierney was staggeringly modest about spending three weeks filming Conor McGregor in Las Vegas while finishing a video for Drake (Bastard is only twenty-years old).

Then Axis Theatre warrior Emma Connors asked me to speak about the meaning of that elusive word, “Creative.” No idea what to say, I looked into the audience. At the couple of hundred kids. At their teachers.

I remembered what it was like to be a boy. To be talked at. Patronised. Lectured to on the dangerous desires of sex, drugs, and alcohol. By an asshole adult who knew fuck all. An adult like the one I had become.

When we were kids nobody talked about the dangers of creativity; the one stimulus potentially more addictive than sex, drugs, and alcohol.

I reached for the only thing I knew we had in common. The truth. Told them the truth is we’re all fucked up. All of us. Teachers and students. Adults and kids.

Told them they already know that some teachers are brilliant. Life-changing facilitators. Empowering alchemists. Creative humanists.

Told them they already know that some teachers are not. That some teachers are c***s. Poisonous. Destructive. C***s.

The kids went berserk. Like lunatics breaking out of an asylum. The teachers wanted blood. Mine. But the closet fifteen-year-old in me looked back at them. And repeated it. You heard me. C***s. And you know who you are.

Individually or combined, sex, drugs, and alcohol can be dangerous. Sex can make you lonely. Confused. Filled with doubt. In obscene cases, sex can violate you. Break you. Kill you. Same with alcohol. Same with drugs. Same with creativity.

Sex can connect you. Elevate you. Fill you with belief. In sublime cases, sex can repair you. Empower you. Give life to you. Same with alcohol. Same with drugs. Sure as shit the same with creativity.

Some folks claim there is no soul. Others swear by it. It’s your call. But, for this, let’s simply call your “soul” your sense of self. Your essence. You.

If you introduce some half-decent sex, drugs, and alcohol to a self-sabotaged and intentionally inhibited body, combined with a deliberately diminished brain, there may be a brief reaction but the lack of physical interest and curtailed curiosity will block any real access to your soul.

It will be destructive. That doesn’t mean it can’t be altered. Your body, woken up to its possibilities, and your brain, introduced to its capacity, can change your world. Creatively reintroducing sex, drugs, and alcohol to such an awakening is often beautiful.

Of course, there are remarkable folks who find the courage to fight against their addictions every day. Every hour. Anybody who attempts to diminish that addiction is an asshole. Full stop. But this is not about that. This is about the vultures and parasites who feed off your courage.

You know the type. The folks who never tried sex, drugs, and alcohol a day in their lives yet know everything about them. The self-appointed moral guardian. The expert witness. The creative hypocrite.

Rabid righteousness is crawling into every discourse. Everything has to be definitive now. Right or wrong. No room for confusion. Or doubt. Or being a human being. We are terrified at not having every answer to every question every second of every damned day.

Your side is absolutely right. Any doubt is weakness. Any question is foolish. Any dissent is madness. Anything outside reductionist ideas must be met with immediate rejection. Proudly. Defiantly. There is no discussion beyond those parameters. There is no room for complex conversation. You are right. And they are wrong. Definitively.

Men do rape. Drugs do kill. Alcohol does destroy lives. Yet most men do not rape. Never would. Most men are horrified by rape.

For most people drugs inspire an awakening of the senses and a yearning for profound engagement. Alcohol also, for most people, facilitates uninhibited joy and the embrace of others. There are anomalies to this. Always. And, thankfully, they are in the tiniest minority.

Some fools use alcohol as an excuse to be ugly with others. They should not drink. And they should make that choice themselves. Once may be a mistake. But twice becomes a pattern. Alcohol is obviously not your thing. Find other facilitators. And leave the happy people alone. Same applies to getting high. And getting laid. And getting creative. Don’t be an asshole. Simple as.

Governments fund campaigns to warn us of the dangers of uninhibited sex, the damage of alcohol and the fatalism of drugs. But sex, drugs, and alcohol can be dangerous for another reason. Not because they are addictive. They facilitate a sense of empowered freedom. And every controlling class scumfuck knows how dangerous that kind of creativity can be. T

hose same governments destroy entire generations with relentless austerity and other bogus policies but where are the protests? The campaigns? The outrage?

The Repeal the 8th Referendum has just been announced and we know how ugly that campaign will become. How hurtful. How both sides will roll out their destructive symbols to justify their righteous rage. Dead women. Dead babies. Neither knowing they would become corpses in a campaign.

But what happens when a child is born in this country? Where are the protests from both sides when it comes to the casual medicalisation of that birth? Who protects pregnant women on the disturbing conveyor belt of birth?

Where is the outrage at rich surgeons slicing perfect stomachs to expedite a return to the golf course? Where are the campaigns against the stealing of public beds by private patients who pay the going rate to be kept away from the poor? Where is the horror at the orchestrated demonisation of breast-feeding fueling the lucrative pumping of powdered poisons?

Where is the collective concern for the sisters, mothers, and grandmothers of those two hundred working-class boys sitting in a theatre in Ballymun wondering why their national leader has forgotten them in the national narrative?

If you put shit food into your body and refuse physical engagement, your body will turn to shit. You will seek out sugar and chemical rushes. You will sink deeper into your cycle of self-sabotage. You will negate responsibility. Destroy potential. Hate yourself. And others.

If you put shit ideas into your brain and reject curiosity, your mind will turn to shit. You will seek out gossip and prejudice. You will sink deeper into your cycle of malice. You will negate education. Destroy inspiration. Justify hatred. And use it against others.

Sex, drugs, and alcohol are used in both birth and abortion. Sometimes they are even used in the conception. As this Repeal the 8th Campaign plays out on social media the hatred will be overwhelming.

In today’s smoke-and-mirrors bullshit only two categories make sense to me anymore: Creative and Destructive. That’s the question I keep asking these days. The context doesn’t even matter. From conversation, to cooking, to curing cancer, are the people you are dealing with creative? Or destructive? Simple as.

Facebook is a magnificent facilitation for creative conversations. Compelling curiosities. Human connections. But it’s also a cesspool of cowards waiting to lob grenades from the comfort of their couches.

We saw it during the Right2Water campaign. Incredible people fighting for all of us being demonised daily by the despicable of us.

It even happened with Apollo House. Somehow, people trying to put our forgotten homeless front-row-center of the national narrative was turned into another justification for another attack. Same is happening every day with this whole gender thing.

Time to take a break from this social media mayhem. Until the end of the year. At least. There are brilliant people out there in Facebookland.

On both sides. Life-changing facilitators. Empowering alchemists. Creative humanists. But in this upcoming shitstorm, the ugly ones with the sharp teeth will be braying the loudest. You know the ones. Poisonous. Destructive. C***s.

Don’t want to be around destructive minds anymore. The con artists. The cowards. The crippling cynics who drag you down and suck the marrow out of your bones.

Looking at those two hundred kids made it clearer than ever that life really is too short for that shit. Need to absorb the insights of the creative minds. The believers. The brave. The beautiful bastards who lift you up and give flight to your fucking soul.

See you on the other side.

Terry McMahon is a homelessness activist, acting coach and award-winning film director. Follow Terry on Twitter: @Terrymcmahon69

From top: Conor McGregor this week; Terry McMahon

Finally the Irish media’s coverage of Conor McGregor is being called out. Not all journalists are guilty but the words, “racist, homophobic and misogynist”, are to be found on the casually manicured fingertips of way too many hacks.

As journalists drop grenades like popcorn onto sticky carpets of porn theatres everything is incendiary and every accusation justified. Anybody who does not immediately subscribe to someone’s notion of appropriate behavior is a racist, a homophobe or a misogynist.

Words have lost all meaning and the real victims are forgotten. Extremism is the norm and you better keep up with the vernacular lest you find yourself fatally accused by some rabidly censorious moral guardian.

Unless, of course, you are part of the controlling class. Then all bets are off. You can say and do whatever the hell you want. With impunity.

Take recently stepped-down Irish leader, Enda Kenny. Where were the hacks when Kenny knowingly, deliberately and publicly used the word “n****r”, or when he oversaw the dehumanisation of thousands of foreigners in Direct Provision centers? Surely Enda Kenny can’t be racist? Who knows? But Conor McGregor definitely is.

Where were the fancy words when Kenny’s unelected replacement Leo Varadkar ploughed a deep and ugly trench to incite class hatred in his ‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ campaign, or his since politically revised assertion that gay men weren’t fit to marry or raise kids? Surely a gay man can’t be homophobic? Who knows? But Conor McGregor definitely is.

Where was the outrage of the feminist wordsmiths when Labour leader Joan Burton viciously implemented austerity measures and slashed single parent’s allowance to leave an entire generation of working class women in abject poverty? Surely a woman can’t be a misogynist? Who knows? But Conor McGregor definitely is.

Where were all the journalism school graduates when it came to the countless verifications of state sanctioned racism, homophobia and misogyny?

Where were all the courageous click bait articles then? Kenny and his kind may have brought untold devastation to our country but at least they are our kind of Irish. Our kind of racists. Our kind of homophobes. Our kind of misogynists.

McGregor is not our kind. He’s not humble enough. Doesn’t genuflect enough. Won’t bow down and take it enough. A bit too working class.

It’s true that McGregor facilitated the tacit imprisonment of thousands of refugees, rendered thousands more homeless and presided over the suicides of another five thousand. Shit, sorry, that was Enda Kenny.

But McGregor did declare gay men unfit to marry and raise kids. Shit, sorry, that was Leo Varadkar. McGregor definitely set out to eradicate the basic rights and capacities of innumerable working class women. Okay, shit, sorry again, that was Joan Burton. But McGregor, he…he…he uses street language.

What exactly has Conor McGregor done? Through unparalleled hard work, brilliant business acumen and balls big as church bells he has become a global phenomenon and given pride back to the same working class that that trio of governmental hustlers are trying to destroy.

Yet, according to multiple Irish scribes, McGregor is the racist, homophobic, misogynist and the other three are the kind of folks you should aspire to have your son or daughter become.

Who knows how this fight with Mayweather will unfold? McGregor is not perfect. But he is like nothing we have ever seen out of Ireland.

Yes, he uses street language, but it’s in a game where everybody understands the rules. If you are busy taking offense on behalf of other imagined folks then you know nothing about this breed of competitive sport and those folks don’t want you being offended for them anyway.

McGregor has a big mouth. By design. The haters pay to see it shut and the lovers pay to see it proven. A supreme athlete and a competitor beyond compare, they call him Mystic Mac for a reason.

I have four kids and if they grow up with a fraction of McGregor’s courage, pragmatism and accountability I’ll be the proudest father on the planet.

If, however, they grow up with the systemic racism, homophobia and misogyny of our controlling class I’ll be the father with his head in his hands wondering how the hell we became such cowards? There are too few modern heroes in Ireland. But Conor McGregor is definitely one.

So, if you hacks, pumping out your bile on behalf of your newspaper bosses, can look up from your unfounded accusation for two seconds, here are two simpler words in the working class vernacular that you can add to your too light journalistic arsenal: Fupp you.

And to you, mister McGregor, for the profound hope and inspiration you have given to our nation, and to the world, here are two simpler words: Thank you.

Terry McMahon is a homelessness activist, acting coach and award-winning film director. Follow Terry on Twitter: @Terrymcmahon69

Top pic: Reuters

Earlier: From Glen To Glen