It wouldn't be a normal week in Ireland without a bit of fuss on 'Liveline'. The daily midweek radio call show, hosted by Joe Duffy, is famous for bringing out the chat in many Irish people. It's also known, though, for the eclectic selection of subjects discussed and the random statements some of the guests can come out with.
Today's show of Liveline opened with a discussion about the new RTÉ television programme, Iarnród Enda, hosted by Enda Kenny. Yes, former Fine Gaeler and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Iarnród Enda follows Kenny on his bike along Ireland's 'Greenways', in search of the old abandoned railway lines in rural Ireland.
The concept of the show is absolutely nuts. Yes, there has been a lot of interest in Ireland's railways in recent years, and yes there have been some fantastic projects in the past few years bringing new life to the area, but to get a former Taoiseach to tell the story of them is objectively weird.
Liveline's first caller of the day, Sean Dalton, was thinking along those lines when he launched into a tirade about Iarnród Enda.
I’d be very interested in the rail lines in the country. But I think Enda Kenny is totally unsuitable for the role, because I don’t think he’s a charismatic personality.
We have, at this moment in Ireland, a huge amount of unemployed artists – very talented artists – and they haven’t got a shilling for the last two years, probably, or a year and a half. I think many of them would be far more suitable and far more engaging than Enda Kenny.
In actual fact when I saw it last night, and I saw Enda Kenny going around with a bicycle - and Jesus his hair is probably worse than mine - the first thing that struck me was: ‘is this Mario Rosenstock taking the piss here?’
Dalton went on to say that he had found Kenny boring since his time as a politician, while also suggesting that he would never have gotten the gig if it hadn't been for his past career as a politician.
I’ll tell you my objection, it’s a little clique there. He got that role solely because he’s Enda Kenny. Like, for example, if Sean Dalton applied for that role, he wouldn’t get inside the door. So, because Enda Kenny was Enda Kenny, he got that role.
It’s like watching paint dry, listening to Enda Kenny.
The programme's host, Duffy, played Devil's Advocate, pointing out some of the strengths of Iarnród Enda and some of the enjoyable celebrity guests who popped up along the way, but Dalton was having none of it.
The next caller, however, Bríd from Waterford, was far more praising of the show, which she called "fantastic". She pointed out the good work it would do for the areas it visited and how well they were represented on screen.
I thought he was fantastic. I really admired him. Now, I’m not a person who follows politics that much, you know? But I think he was marvellous and I loved his Irish, and I think he was very human. He had a lovely side to him that we don’t usually see in politicians when they’re in the Dáil. I think he got the point over and it was terribly interesting.
I thought the scenery was fantastic.
If you had told us in 2017 that the outgoing Taoiseach would return to the public eye a few years later as a television host for an Irish-language programme promoting Ireland's greenways, and that it would be the subject of hot debate on Ireland's most listened to radio show, we would have said you were mad.
These are strange times, though, and we suspect this won't be the last public discussion of 'Iarnród Enda' on Liveline.