Limerick politicians reject UK article calling Rathkeale a 'rathole'

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Limerick politicians reject UK article calling Rathkeale a 'rathole'

Rathkeale town was mentioned disparagingly in a controversial article in British magazine Country Squire

THE MAYOR of Limerick has said that an article in which Rathkeale was described as a ‘rathole’ and Ireland as a land of ‘drugs mule celebs, verbal diarrhoea and squeaky fiddles’ was like “a time warp”.

Mayor Stephen Keary, who is from Croagh, is a representative of the Adare Rathkeale electoral area, and operates his local office in the town of Rathkeale.

County Limerick TD Tom Neville has also rejected the comment made about Rathkeale, which he called “a sweeping generalisation”.

The article, originally published online for British magazine Country Squire, caused controversy over the weekend, with many people taking to the airwaves this Monday to vent on RTE’s Joe Duffy Show.

Rathkeale was the only town specifically mentioned in the piece, which has been largely branded as ‘anti-Irish’ and ‘racist’.

In the article, titled ‘Get Stuffed, Eire’, Jim Browne writes: “A ‘country’ where the burglars from Britain with surnames like Kettle and Rafferty – return to build eyesore ‘palaces’ in ratholes like Rathkeale (a small Irish town swollen by the proceeds of crime).”

The article has since been removed from the website and the writer has resigned, issuing an apology.

The mayor called the article a “rant”, and said that it wouldn’t be “a true reflection of the average English man on the street”.

“I think our relations between England and Ireland are far better than they were before. It’s like something from back 150 years. He’s back in the past. Ireland has moved on, England has moved on, and the world has moved on,” said Mayor Keary.

When asked if he thinks there is a negative view of Rathkeale, the mayor said: “People have a view about everywhere. What the outsiders think, we have no control over it. The people of the Rathkeale area have to live their daily lives as best they can and we’ll move on.

“I reject the whole article, it was archaic. You would think that you were in a time warp, to read it, that you were back a hundred years. I have no doubt that journalists and politicians at that time would be making those kinds of scurrilous remarks about Ireland, and if Rathkeale happened to be mentioned, so be it. But it was a scurrilous attack on Ireland as a whole,” added the mayor.

Fine Gael TD Tom Neville said that the article was “written by someone who hadn’t a clue about Rathkeale”, and someone who had probably never visited the town.

“I do take exception to the sweeping generalisation in relation to Rathkeale and the terminology that was pointed towards it,” said Mr Neville.

“As a representative of the area, I’m delighted to base myself professionally in the town, and I will continue to base myself in the town as long as the people permit me to do so - like my father did. I take complete exception to the sweeping generalisation,” he added.

Irish journalist Ken Murray initially noticed the article and actually reported it to the Metropolitan Police in London - through the gardai.

“It’s all about the tone. The tone of this article was that the Irish were dumb, stupid, uneducated, were always drunk, always looking for a fight, that we cannot organise anything, and that Ireland without Britain is going nowhere. That’s the tone - to me that is racism,” said Mr Murray on RTE Radio One.

“Kevin Myers lost his job for making comments about Jewish people. The tone of the piece is anti-Irish. I’m of the opinion that the Irish should stand up to this.

“The bottom line is, whether you like it or don’t, right-wing extremism is starting to take hold. If you let it take hold, it will get out of hand. If people don’t criticise comments like this that are racist against every Irish man and woman, it will fester and get completely out of control,” he said, explaining why he decided to report the piece.

But another Irish caller took the side of the writer of the piece, stating: “It’s Ireland, and we are a bit of a joke.”