Ireland: Move Over DiCaprio and da Vinci — Here’s Ireland’s Leo

It was a true Irish honeymoon — short and judgmental.

The Irish did not waste any time basking in the wonder of the world, that this small country had leapt into modernity with its first openly gay and half-Indian prime minister, at 38 the youngest taoiseach in history. This, even as America and Britain are getting borne back into a crimped, parochial past by unpopular elders riding a wave of white-privilege nostalgia and anti-immigrant fever.

It only took three months for Leo Varadkar, a 6-foot-3 physician who is the youngest child of a Hindu Indian doctor and a Catholic Irish nurse, to be sliced down to size, which, along with hurling, is a beloved Gaelic sport.

“If we could export wing-clippers, we could solve the national debt,” Ryan Tubridy, the country’s most popular TV host, dryly told me.

The tall new Irish prime minister has run afoul of the Irish tall poppy syndrome, the need to cut down all perceived peacocking.

“I’ve got a beating in the last week or so,” says Varadkar, who has a gentle but confident presence, sitting in his office under a portrait of Michael Collins. “And that’s very much on the media. I don’t think it’s necessarily coming from the public.” But, he adds, “I don’t think they’re harder on me than they’ve been on any previous taoiseach.”

It might surprise Irish-Americans, who tend to cling to the thatched-hut, Catholic Church-dominated, fighting-and-drinking image of Eire popularized by John Ford, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in “The Quiet Man,” that the complaints have nothing to do with Varadkar’s sexuality or mixed heritage. Read more via New York Times