The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Bonjour from Ireland! Your French correspondent needs a break from French corresponding, especially after our action-packed weekend at La Route du Rock. So we’ve left the stale heat of Paris and headed back home to the wind and rain of Kerry.

But, as we pointed out during a previous trip home, it seems that France always follows us to the Kingdom. Here in Tralee there’s a French deli/café and this weekend a French market will set up in the town centre as part of the Rose of Tralee festival. (There’s also a France Rose, Melodie O’Neill from Brittany.) And there are plenty of French tourists around Tralee and Dingle and the rest of the county.

Jane BirkinThe weekend after this one, someone else will travel from Paris to Ireland. Jane Birkin (right), our erstwhile neighbour and France’s favourite Englishwoman, is performing at the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire. Birkin will be at the Pavilion Theatre on Saturday 29 August, with tickets costing €30-32.

We’ve already written at length about Birkin and that duet, and it’s impossible to talk about her without mentioning Serge Gainsbourg, her late former romantic and creative partner. Since the great man’s death in 1991 she has curated his legacy by re-interpreting many of the songs he wrote for and about her. On stage she sings his songs and talks about him, as if recognising that he has defined her adult life and their relationship is now a cultural artefact in the public domain.

But it would be unfair to reduce Birkin to a mere supporting role in her own life - the woman is an icon in her own right. True, many of her acting parts have been as up-for-it sex kittens – but her intense and brave performance in the bleak Gainsbourg-directed 1976 film ‘Je T’aime (Moi Non Plus)' remarkably prefigures her daughter Charlotte’s award-winning role in Lars von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’.

And recently she has started painting a broader canvas of her pre- and post-Serge life. ‘Boxes’, her first film as a director, is a semi-autobiographical look back over her live and loves. (Before Gainsbourg she was married to another legendary musician, film composer John Barry.) And her latest record, ‘Enfants D’Hiver’, is her first to be entirely self-composed and continues the bittersweet nostalgic theme of her movie.

On a previous album, Birkin sang a song written for her by our own Neil Hannon. The track, ‘Home’, touches on Birkin’s momentous life and has her wondering about the other paths she may have taken. It’s a catchy little thing, relatively sincere for a Hannon composition, and while never the world’s greatest singer Birkin handles this song with a sure touch. The video, where Birkin’s native London blurs into her adopted Paris, is a smart and witty take on the long-term ex-pat’s complex and conflicting feelings when the heart is in two places at once. (Your correspondent knows the feeling all too well.)

Unfortunately we can’t embed the video, but it’s definitely worth a view and a listen – watch the video for ‘Home’ by Jane Birkin here. And if she sings it in Dun Laoghaire next weekend don’t be surprised if the songwriter pops up beside her on stage.

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Nuggets from our archive

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited to read this very article.