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There’s a reason we’re all so thirsty for Connell in Normal People

by Edaein OConnell
26th May 2020

Normal People has taken over the hearts and minds of people everywhere. However, there is a very specific thirst for Connell — and a very clear reason why this might be

There’s another pandemic engulfing the world.

You would think the universe would bless us kindly following the Covid-19 saga, but no, it had other plans.

There’s a virus and it’s making women (and men) feel a fever like no other. The sweat is showering out of pores, the want for GAA is paralyzing and Joe Duffy is collapsing under the colossal number of calls he is receiving.

And the poor GP’s are bamboozled.

The sickness is making people turn around to their partners and ask, “I don’t know, but would you ever, like, think about wearing a silver chain?”

Society as we know it is falling apart.

The cause: the Connellvirus

The cure: the researchers at Oxford University said there might not be one.

The Connell sickness

For those who don’t know, Connell Waldron is a character in Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel Normal People. The book has since been adapted to screen, with Kildare native Paul Mescal playing Connell and Daisy Edgar-Jones as Marianne. The show premiered at the beginning of this week on both the BBC and RTÉ and has been met with almost universal acclaim.

It’s a superb feat of television making. It’s heartbreakingly relatable, beautifully shot, and is the kind of art that makes you feel something. It’s like a vibration you can’t switch off.

And it seems Connell is the electric source.


People have lost it for the GAA boy who is academically brilliant and probably reads Ulysses in his spare time for fun.

Someone needs to tell the GAA that they will be swimming in cash when the championship returns. This influx of money coming from the sheer amount of individuals coming to matches scouting for their own complicated and sensitive corner-forward.

The people are thirsty for Connell. There are individuals who have never touched a football in their lives, who are now willing to put their bodies on the line to win a county championship for the man.

But why exactly?


As I watched Normal People, I had a constant itch.

You know the one, where you definitely recognise someone but you don’t know from where exactly. The feeling is like pushing against a stone wall or throwing an object at a forcefield.

As I watched the love story between Marianne and Connell unfold, I couldn’t help but feel that I had met the latter.

Did one of my friends shift him?

Was he with the group of lads we met at the Galway Races? Or was it Puck Fair?

Was he at my debs?

I texted friends who all felt similar. The cognisance was suffocating. I thought I’d shatter from the pressure.

Then I realised: we all know a Connell.


It’s a testament to the masterful acting by Paul Mescal that this perception was created. In every nervous tic, awkward breath and lost stare, we saw the form of someone we knew.

We were in primary school with Connell.

We stood with him at the alter with our tongues dropped, waiting for the body of Christ at our first holy communion. We watched him on the sideline of freezing football fields. We shared our first can of Bulmers with him by a river. We shared our first kiss with him on the stained back seats of the cinema. We watched him from afar. We have been asked if we wanted to shift his friend at a disco.

We went to college with him.

We met him in a chipper once and shared a garlic cheese chips.

We were pursued and rejected by him.

We are probably sitting next to him right now.

Every Irish man

There is an aspect of Connell that is every Irish man we have ever known. In many ways, he is the archetype of him. As a nation, our communication lines are rarely clear. Feelings are unheard, as often as they are misconstrued. In matters of the heart, Connell is a reflection of how the procedure goes, particularly when it comes to the raw wounding that is first love.

Once we jump the hurdle that is Covid-19, many of you will meet Connell. It may be on Tinder, in college, in work, on the street, or in the smoking area of Ryan’s. You too will be confused by the mind-boggling sense that you have already met him.

However, until then, the thirstiness for Connell Waldron lives on.

It doesn’t help the situation that he looks like he could simultaneously kick a 45, drink a pint and then whisk you away to Killarney for the weekend.

The Connellvirus is rampant.

Read more: Every parent will relate to this Twitter thread on the impossible questions children ask before bed

Read more: 6 new Netflix picks we can’t wait for this May

Read more: 5 brilliant Netflix films to watch instead of the news

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