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Thomas Bannon

Thomas Bannon is an Illustrator based in Belfast whose clients include Kraken Dark Rum, the Dead Rabbit NYC, and Jameson Irish Whiskey.  


A Note Let Go

Winter 2018 | Essays

Recently, rewatching The Commitments (which I’d last seen at the tender age of thirteen), I found myself thinking again about what a strange road it has been—for Ireland; for the world. That movie—based on a Roddy Doyle novel about a Dubliner who insists on forming an ill-fated but spirited soul band—came to cinemas in the US two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and seven years before the Good Friday agreement, which paved the way for peace in Northern Ireland and Ireland more generally. The Commitments is full of a 1990s sensibility. The city is scarred and there are horses in the vacant lots, but soul music is coming to Dublin. Soul is going to be a new vessel for singing old pain and buoying up joy. The world of the movie is open to heady reinventions, which in its tellings seem somehow more hopeful than mere appropriation, more artful than mere global capitalism. When I first watched The Commitments, in 1991, I had just been liberated from a childhood spent performing Reagan-era arms-race drills by huddling under various elementary-school desks in California. We’d vanquished the Russians and we seemed ready to be done with borders. Our whole world seemed about to tip toward something happier and more international, a high-speed blur which seemed like it might be a good in itself, which might yet lead to peace and prosperity for all. It’s worth remembering how parts of the nineties had a kind of blinking freshness to them. Francis Fukuyama told us history was over. We lived in the thrall of possibility.