Only a fool romantises poverty: Tommy Tiernan on social welfare days

Discussion in 'Letting Off Steam' started by Bigbird, 16 Jul 2018.

  1. Bigbird

    Bigbird Frequent Poster

    Last edited: 16 Jul 2018
    I heard recently on a few radio shows and read in the newspaper that Tommy Tiernan was having the Craic about his youth and days on social welfare (sw). He referred to them as some of the best days of his life! This midly irritated me at first (as there is absolutely nothing positive about poverty) but as I began to process it I had a different view.

    I read recently a quote (on Harvard review) by JK Rowling that says “ Only a fool Romantises poverty” and later watched her speech on YouTube JKRowling’s visit to Harvard Business/Finance Graduation ceremony (worth watching by the way).

    I had to agree with Jk Rowling.

    I also have to agree with Tommy on this one though as he is technically a fool too! In Shakespeare they had the fool who’d go to court to entertain etc. Tommy is the modern day fool.

    Fair play to Tommy for milking that one. He’s a smarty pants underneath it all!

    Adios amigos

    Last edited: 16 Jul 2018
  2. joe sod

    joe sod Frequent Poster

    Tommy tiernan was just being honest, he was a young guy , he was probably in a much better position than a poor student with no income totally dependant on their parents. He was probably working for cash in the black economy aswell. There are many low paid and hard jobs that are much worse than being on the dole like working in a meat factory, these are the people that deserve the real sympathy.
    RETIRED2017 likes this.
  3. Bigbird

    Bigbird Frequent Poster

    Last edited: 17 Jul 2018
    Hi Joesod, I can see your point of view, however, in my own personal experience this is not how it’s been portrayed in public media circles. Your ‘probables’ have not been included so what we are left with is how during a very dark time in Tommy’s life when he was on the dole - well that they were some of the best years of his life.

    I haven’t been to the gig so I can’t comment on that. I’m just going on what I’ve heard on various different radio stations and perhaps others on this site have heard it portrayed diffferently. Now going on what I have heard and to those who were playing by the rules and just on the dole with no other income then they were very much bleak times.

    Once again as Tommy is a comedian(fool in shakeserpian times) then he and other comedians can get away with it (as per JK Rowling’s quote above).

    Any one else I’d be raising an eyebrow at especially with the stats on poverty on a global level and the sadness and limitations it brings to people’s lives. It’s really no laughing matter.
    Last edited: 17 Jul 2018
  4. TheBigShort

    TheBigShort Frequent Poster

    Last edited: 17 Jul 2018
    I think this is called reflection. TT probably made the best of a bad situation.
    People often recall past events and periods in their lives and look back on them with a perspective of humour, even though in reality it was far from the truth.
    Last edited: 17 Jul 2018
    elacsaplau likes this.
  5. elacsaplau

    elacsaplau Frequent Poster

    TBS - Was it Woody Allen who prescribed the formula for this? As in.......
    Comedy = Tragedy plus Time
    Purple and TheBigShort like this.
  6. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

    I suspect it was more about remembering an era of no responsibilities, and simple worries i.e. where's the next 50 quid coming from... than poverty per se.
    At least he was remembering his own experience, and not patronisingly saying it about others.
  7. Bigbird

    Bigbird Frequent Poster

    TBS I understand your point but not everyone has the capacity to reflect on anything.

    I only heard the beginning of a discussion on a radio show about TT stuff on the dole which basically said that TT said “ the best years of my life were when I was on the dole”. That’s his reflection on dark times in his life. There are many out there who will only hear that.

    On the other hand JK said about her dark days of poverty “ only a fool romantises poverty”. Two very different social messages let’s face it!


    I don’t know much about Woody. I know he made very weird movies that I didn’t enjoy at all and came across as very neurotic. So, lets hope that Woody is using the above formula in relation to his own personal dilemmas in respect of his daughter. It will be interesting to see what material emerges from that.

    Yes Odyssey, at least he was talking about himself but let’s remember poverty is a universal experience and the general consensus is that the poverty journey is not a pleasant one. I would consider anyone who is scrambling for money impoverished. I have good friends who behaved like that at college and they refer to themselves as poor students. Believe you me they were super aware of the “rich” ones.
  8. Leo

    Leo Moderator

    You might be missing a very large part of the picture there. Tommy has had a number of well documented (and likely more undocumented) dark periods and battles in his life from his school days on. Even from being at a few of his gigs over the years you get a sense of ebbs and flows in his outlook/ mindset.

    You're interpreting part of one interview and assuming that because he was poor at a time when he was happy that poverty was the source of this happiness, and that that these were a dark time in his life. Tommy might well argue he has had much darker times to contend with.

    You also need to remember that he's a comedian and some element of what he says, even in serious interviews, is done for comedic effect.
  9. Bigbird

    Bigbird Frequent Poster

    Hi Leo, yeah I’m very aware of Tommy’s struggles with the “black dog” as I’ve been to his gigs and watch him when on radio or tv as I like him.

    I didn’t pick up that vibe though when media discussed his “best years of my life were when I was on the dole” stuff. It seemed to be about him been broke etc. I don’t think most others would make the connection either unless they started reading this thread that’s been up a few days as people try to unravel what he means by it. Perhaps if he referred to the best days of his life when he was young, single, no black dog etc focusing on that rather than dole/poverty.

    As I said previously, I haven’t seen his recent work but perhaps someone who has been to a gig over past few months can let us know. I will go though.

    For me the words “best days of my life was when I was on the dole” is what it is. I’m not going to tax my mind at a night of TT or when leisurely listening to the radio trying work out what it really means to him! A lot of people don’t reflect to that level. They just don’t.

    Once again I’m not against what he’s said as he’s a comedian and he has an almost invisible license to allow him to do that. As you said Leo :

    You also need to remember that he's a comedian and some element of what he says, even in serious interviews, is done for comedic effect.[/QUOTE]. And I think JK chimes in on that as well with her view on poverty/dole.

    But as an artist his words do carry the power to shift/alter people perspective on poverty should the words be taken literally and people don’t go looking beneath the surface to work out what he really going on about as per your previous suggestions.
  10. joe sod

    joe sod Frequent Poster

    just because Jk Rowling says something doesn't make it right. She says only a fool romanticises poverty, but is she correct , afterall some of the greatest art in the world has as its subject povery, for example the spanish artist Velazquez frequently painted peasant scenes and they are romantic to our eyes. This is now regarded as some of the greatest art in the world, so was Velazquez a fool, hardly. If he was not his own man and listened to that opinion then some great art would not have been painted.
  11. Bigbird

    Bigbird Frequent Poster


    We need to contextualise the above. Surely as a society we’ve moved on from the 1600! After all life is about change and growth and improving social conditions is part of that! Surely humanity has moved on since the 1600s and are committed to eradicating poverty? I know that governments and other people around the world are trying to help in that area. So is Jk Rowling in her own way.
    I’m not sure if that artist was aware of the many hard conditions that poverty can bring with it. I think Tommy might though.

    I agree with JK Rowling’s progressive thinking in relation to poverty.
  12. Leper

    Leper Frequent Poster

    In fairness Tommy Tiernan would source a laugh from anything. He said this a few years ago in a Late Late interview where if a tsunami or earthquake hit some island causing death, destruction and poverty it was only a matter of a few days when he'd receive a text with a joking spin on what happened.

    Having struggled in the days where one's wife had to give up paid work on marriage, fighting our way through a mortgage interest rate of 19.75%, surviving real recessions (not doddles like the last recession) . I am not a stranger to being in need. There is nothing romantic about living in penury. Unlike the song I do look back in anger. I have dealt with our bank asking for an extension of 5 years on a 20 year mortgage and the fastest letter ever letter of reply came two days later informing me of my commitment to paying back €9K (big at the time) over no more than 20 years. That letter shoved me into poverty where literally we hadn't a button for years; locked the car in the garage, cycled for a few years, no holidays, scraped to pay electricity bills on a weekly basis, bought food that nobody else would. A visit to the doctor was out of the question. Romanticism my arse.

    There are times when I get emotional on what we soldiered through. You may ask "Did it leave a bitter pill?" You bet your bottom dollar it did. And I as a taxpayer was one who bailed out the bloody banks after they had spectacularly screwed up. I'm getting emotional again so I'll shut up before I say something that will have this post deleted.
    becky likes this.
  13. RETIRED2017

    RETIRED2017 Frequent Poster

    Last edited: 22 Jul 2018
    The small town Men/woman who sailed through the last recession will be on to remind you bailed out the deposit holders not the banks.

    Some almost as old as you sailed through the real recession never seen any recession in there life time but want one for people not so lucky in life,

    Lep said I'll shut up before I say something that will have this post deleted where did you say you lived now ,

    lots of people seen poverty who worked lots of people on social welfare who lost jobs after they changed the way Prsi was paid out after 1984/85 seen poverty and still do to this day most workers who got into trouble on mortgages in the last recession would not have got into trouble if the left the pay related social insurance system alone in1984/5 ,

    The people Who pushed through the changes back then were people who were not going to be affected by it I remember one very well off Right Wing TD/Minister saying the reason they wanted it changed was because she reckoned it was open to abuse , The only abuse of the system since is the took working people PRSI and squandered it,

    The good thing is most are now paying extra tax and will for the rest of there lives,

    Lep Your above post is very well put but only the people affected by recessions remember ,
    I can say it did not leave a bitter pill I suppose seeing the people who wanted it that way now having to pay for it long term helps ,
    Some people lost there life others lost there health more lost there homes because of changes made back then by people who were never going be affected by the changes,
    Last edited: 22 Jul 2018
  14. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

    Were her comments remarkably similar to something JRR Tolkien wrote or am I thinking of some books she wrote?