Séamus Ahearne: A disappointed Déise man, Edna O’Brien, Indi and more…

Portraits of the Artist……

Sporting Heroes:

It is a sad and sobering morning. Clashmore-man Tadgh de Búrca is seeing the medics. Some of us – as Waterford dreamers, can delude ourselves, that if he hadn’t been injured; we might have got closer to Limerick. Or even won! Humour us. Allow us to at least imagine that. The game of hurling is indeed a beautiful game. Such skill. Such athleticism. Such commitment. Such poetry in motion. I think the game has improved immensely over the years. When I returned to Ireland after 20 years away, I was thrilled at the new game of hurling. It had changed so much and had become even better. (Or so I thought). Now I don’t understand that game of Sunday. Limerick always had spare men. It can’t be true that both teams had only 15. I suspect Waterford had only 12. Those of us from Deise-land, have to wallow in nostalgia and live in the past: 1948 & 1959. ‘Those were the days, my friend.’ Who will I support next week? Might I put a hex on one of them? Ciao Paolo Rossi. I have to change code. He added to the colour of life. His home was robbed during his funeral……

Edna O Brien:

Edna O Brien will celebrate her 90th birthday on 15th December. She has given a talk on TS Eliot. Her most recent book Girl has done well. (On the kidnapped girls by Boko Horam in Nigeria). She is not finished writing. She has another book in mind but is unsure if her energy will hold out. If we meander back over the years and recall the outrage at Country Girls and August is a Wicked Month. And the like. She has become a very respected writer these times and is much admired. Once she was seen as a scandalous woman who corrupted young women. Others saw her as their educator. She had the honour of being banned and censored. I think Tony Flannery and his ilk should meet up with Edna and share their experiences of being so dangerous that they merited censoring and banning. Oh the damage to the moral fibre of the nation! The moral police were busy. ‘They haven’t gone away you know.’

The Third Rite for TV Presenters:

Kay Burley was a formidable interrogator at Sky. She was ever present. She is now on an enforced holiday for six months. Her birthday was her downfall. It must have been the upset at reaching the advanced age of 60. It is truly on the threshold of an entrance to the museum as an antique. Our own gang at RTÉ did somewhat better. They were rather unctuous in their apologies. They oozed with sincerity. Poor Kay’s explanation of spending a penny didn’t do so well. She accused some of gloating over her problem and was angry at their ‘mountain out of a molehill’ type of response. She didn’t appear contrite enough. That ‘purpose of amendment’ still is demanding. I think we should organise ‘The Third Rite of Reconciliation.’ This would give an opportunity to all these public figures, to express their sorrow in a Communal Act of Confession. It is appropriate in a time of pandemic! I think it might even work online……


The pain of politics:

Today is the day. The Electoral College will sign the parchment. The votes of each State in the Union, will then be brought to the Congress for a final count on the 6th January. Poor sulking Donald even, with his 73m votes, will be beaten by Joe with 80m + who will win. (Electoral college votes: 306 – Joe Biden; 232 – Donald Trump). The carry-on by Trump has not been edifying. It is an affront to the pride that many have in democracy. America does need someone better. With civility. With heart. With humanity. With an awareness of others. With courtesy. With a facility in ordinary language and kindness. With a mind that looks out to other countries and attempts to work together. It has been a sad and bad four years. But it wasn’t Trump only. He had a huge following. He still has. The Republican Party hasn’t impressed either. The Catholic Church with a widespread support for Trump, has also been unimpressive.

The narrowness of outlook is also seen in the UK with Brexit. ‘Cut off your nose to spite your face’ comes to mind. Michael Heseltine sees it as the worse decision of modern times. English Nationalism, some have called it. This is happening when the need to work together rather than be consumed by isolationism, is most obvious and necessary. It was refreshing to hear Leo Varadkar on Morning Ireland during the week. He answered every question clearly and without hesitation. Micheál Martin was on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning. He spoke with great sense on the continuing discussion on Brexit. He spoke without hesitation and with an awareness of the scandal of a ‘no-deal’ conclusion. We could be proud of both of them.

The Power of Communion:

The Churches have opened. Masses are going on with a congregation. How lovely it is to be with people again. The sense of Communion is powerful. The deepest meaning of Eucharist is very strong. All the shouting of recent weeks in the Liturgy and the promise of new life is noisy, and gives great heart to all of us. We can make up a Magnificat for each one and for the personality of our Community. Bread is broken and shared. We have found here an explosion of generosity among people. It amazes us; it doesn’t surprise us, but it does make us feel very humble and deeply appreciative. God is good among us. The Word is made flesh. We are privileged to be ministering in this great business of faith. It is inspirational. How blessed we are. Miracles keep on happening.

Indi is perplexed:

She has led a very quiet life since the 21st March. (The day she was born). Now there are people everywhere. She sees all kinds of decorations and this funny red man with a white beard. She thought that her grand-uncle was the only one with more hair on his face than on his head. She hears about Christmas and presents and someone called Santa. She has never met him but understands that this Red Man is a dressed up version of Santa. This Santa apparently comes for Christmas. Then she has heard that Jesus comes at Christmas. But Jesus and Santa don’t look the same. She wonders. She is confused.

She can’t quite grasp this God-talk. God as a baby? Like her. A baby needing to be fed and cleaned. God? With a Mammy and a Daddy? But then she rambles into some funny unrelated chatter. She has heard that Jesus came to be like her and us. Jesus came to help us to see what is really important. Jesus came to open our eyes and our hearts and our imaginations to the wonder of life. Jesus came to help us see how special everyone is. Jesus came to lift us out of ourselves. Jesus came to point the way to his Daddy in heaven. Like a big signpost for all of us to discover the way of life on the only important map. She looked at me on the phone and asked: “When you talk of herons, swans, weeping willows and the Tolka; is that God showing off too?” And then she said something quite remarkable. She heard her parents talking about Dolly Parton. I have to admit that I was lost on this one. Indi said that her Ma and Da mentioned that Dolly was on The Late Late on Friday and spoke about her life. But Dolly also said that her faith meant everything to her. That we had to be bigger than ourselves and bigger than NOW. So our Indi decided that Dolly made sense and that this is why Jesus came……….. I suppose she has a point.

Seamus Ahearne osa.



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