Flann O’Brien — an Irish Genius
M Risno

Premonition or a case of Life more incredible than Art

In his unfinished novel, Slattery’s Sago Saga, Flann O’Brien talks about a strange plan by an Irish-American multimillionaire to plant the whole of Ireland with sago tree, so as to keep the Irish from migrating to the United States. So far, so absurd and comical.

The Guardian newspaper, however, has published a recently declassified material in which UK officials from the early 1980s discussed the possibility of moving the entire population of Hong Kong to Northern Ireland, once the territory was handed over to China.

The suggestion first came from an academic, and then a civil servant started thinking there might be some value in the whole idea, especially at a time when the Troubles were very recent memory and no clear solution was in sight. The Guardian adds that “the extraordinary proposal was more a political in-joke than a genuine plan” and that it is unlike any minister had actually seen it.

In any case, it is worth a read — the absurd logic of it all is almost impossible to refute. Furthermore, it’s as if Flann himself, or his alter ego Myles na cGopaleen, had written it 20 years previously.

This is one more example of how life imitates art, or that can be even more fantastic than many things dreamed up by the artists.

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