Soapbox: April 28th, 2009

Evil is personified in a Gaeilgoir from Meath. Seán Mulvey examines the Irish affliction that is Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh.IT WAS ONE OF THOSE ‘shots heard around the world’ moments. Where were you when Pat Kenny announced to a shocked nation he would stand down as Late Late Show host?Ever since dear old Pat confirmed he would stop mortifying the nation every Friday night, RTÉ’s heavyweights (no pun intended, Mr Ryan) have been positioning themselves for the chance to take over the prestigious show. This has included the usual collection of the Good (Miriam O’Callaghan), the Bad (Joe Duffy) and the Tubridy. However, lurking at 80/1 on comes the most terrifying person on Irish television.Get ready to heuuuck that phlegm from the back of your throat as you try to pronounce the one-and-only Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh. Being a “keen” Gaeilgoir (in the way Hitler was “keen” on the whole anti-semitism, though any parallels drawn between the two are purely accidental) loveable old Bláthnaid has ceilí danced her way into the hearts and minds of the nation.Bláthnaid rules the Afternoon Show with an iron-fist. Looking and acting like Gerry Ryan in drag, the Meath woman swans around the studio, arrogantly butting in to interrupt any guests who made the mistake of muscling in on HER show, while regaling the stay-at-home Mums (and, somewhat awkwardly, me) watching Bláthnaid’s very own take on breast-feeding, how to raise children as successfully as Bláthnaid has, some information on breast-feeding, how to look as fabulous as Bláthnaid, and another short piece on breast-feeding.Gamely working alongside Bláthnaid was the somewhat more bearable Sheena Keane. However, what with Bláthnaid being the most terrifying person at RTÉ, it was no surprise when one day Sheena suddenly didn’t show up for work.The Afternoon Show now features Bláthnaid solo, faffing around in all her pomp, and now having to give up very little of her airtime to some lesser being (one presumes the camp male co-presenter is less of a threat to the alpha-female and so hasn’t been devoured just yet).Still though Bláthnaid’s career, somewhat inexplicably, continues to rise. Jabba-the-Gaeligoir was recently featured as a guest judge on All Ireland Talent Show (sic), despite having very little clue about what the fuck she was on about. That didn’t stop Miss Coffey though, instead emboldened by an extreme close-up projected on a twenty foot video screen she would lounge back in her chair throwing out ill-informed opinion, and proclaim that she knew what talent was, and talent was the bandy-legged dancer from Mullingar doing a jig before her.In another morbid twist, Bláthnaid took to introducing her acts as Gaeilge, desperately trying to ram the language down the throats of anyone watching the show in the heathen Bearla. When fellow judge Daithí Ó Sé also used Irish, Bláthnaid appeared to see this as a challenge and then took to introducing acts in Irish, giving her critique as Gaeilge and trying to get in as many “maith an buachaills” as she possibly could.There is of course very little chance of RTÉ giving the Late Late Show gig to such an, ahem, “polarising” character. Then again, if it had been Bláthnaid interviewing Pete Doherty instead of Pat the Plank, there could have had a certain charm to it.