Séamus Ahearne: A medley of disparate flavours!

A medley of disparate flavours!


Total rhubarb.’ This was Boris Johnson’s exclamation and exasperation at the very idea that he might be involved in clearing the evacuation of the animals from Kabul.  Poor Boris. He is battered from every side as he awaits Sue Gray’s Report on the Parties in the precincts of Number 10 Downing Street. But no-one gets the real problem. It is the Apartment over 11 Downing Street with Carrie, which is the difficulty. Their refurbishment of the apartment would never be to the liking of a new occupant. Then how can the Tories change their leader and elect a new PM? It is impossible. The interior designer was also at one of the Parties. She is hardly capable of adjusting the style to a new occupant. Herself and Carrie did a proper job which ensured that no attempt could be made for a rival to take it over, who simply couldn’t fund a further make-over now. A smart political move.

An appalling vista:

It is 50 years since Bloody Sunday. It took 38 years of rubbishing the people of Derry before the truth emerged. It was somewhat similar to the rubbishing of the Hillsborough disaster families, which took 27 years. The demonising of the Birmingham Six took 17 years before they were cleared. Denning saw it as an ‘appalling vista’ that the Establishment could possibly be wrong. But it was, in each of these cases.

Competing Guards of Honour:

We had a funeral for a veteran soldier (Larry) last Saturday. The army was present. They showed us how to respect the country and the flag. Their ritual was powerful and evocative. It was quite beautiful and impressive. The placing of the flag. The words. And then we got to the Crematorium. We were on time for our slot. There was another Guard of Honour there. They had glided into our scheduled time. We arrived on time. The army was ready. But the competing Guard of Honour threw us. They looked the part. It almost seemed like a competition. This Guard of Honour was for the INLA. Our army friends moved gently aside. ‘Never the twain shall meet.’ (Kipling). We all smiled and waited our revised turn. It added an amusing twist to the sad day.

CAMHS plus: (1)

The Report from South Kerry CAMHS of a very sad situation came out last week.  Shocking. Upsetting. Wrong. Many of us have been frustrated by efforts over the years to get access to CAMHS. It can take forever to get an appointment. It is an overwhelmed service. Wrong things were done in South Kerry. Children and families were let down. But I always want to shout for calmness when a Report comes out. Everyone can react rather than respond. Too often we expect that the experts can cure everything or medicate everything. CAMHS can’t fix everything. Rud nach féidir.  They don’t have the time. They don’t have the means. This is the reality. We have to be careful what we expect from the experts. (If we can ever get to them). Of course mistakes will be made but we can’t crucify a whole system and everyone because problems occur.


I read that Andrew McGinley and Deirdre Morley are to sue the HSE for medical negligence. I cringe at the thought. It is it totally understandable. But there is a real problem. How often have some of us screamed at the system of the experts (the professionals) to listen to those who know the patient best? But the professionals are limited in how they can reach beyond the patient/medic confidentiality. And then there is the cumbersome weight of GDPR. Maybe my questions are evoked by having many friends in these professions who try so hard to do what they can and feel desperately constrained. Even though I have clashed myself with some of the professionals who have excluded the ones who know much more than the experts will ever know when they limit their information. There is an essential need to hear from the patient but also from those who know the daily life of the patient. But my end point is this: We have to be careful and gentle. We can destroy the professionals by expecting too much and by being too critical. Everyone isn’t fixable. We cannot ever know fully any person. We cannot accurately predict what someone will do. We must be humble. And we must be very patient.


Belfast’ has appeared in the cinemas. Kenneth Branagh is much praised. I was amazed last week to read Max Hastings. He is an acclaimed Military Historian. His early days as a journalist were spent in N Ireland. He surprised me completely with the thoughts that came to him as he wrote on the film. He liked the film. He felt it was done beautifully. But it missed a bigger truth. It didn’t see or understand the deep suffering of the Catholic population. It didn’t reach the depths. He too knew some ‘boys’ from those days and many families. He saw the pain. He experienced how downtrodden they were. There were battered by history into being made to feel as nobodies. They had to emerge. Again I say it – it surprised me.

The Stripping of the Altars: (1)

The Stripping of the Altars’ (Eamon Duffy 1992) is a powerful book on traditional religion 1400-1580. The received wisdom on the ‘official church’ was that it was so rotten that it was overthrown by the general populace. His view is different. At the moment I am only using the idea of the ‘stripping of the altars’ rather than taking up any point in Eamon Duffy’s book. I look at our Churches now. The Church is dying in the West. It is populated by the elders. Not even all of them feel the need to be at Church or to link with God. The priests are aging and are not being replaced. We are now in mission mode. There was/is a First World View in economics. There was/is also a First World View in church matters. We want to maintain the great prosperity of our church – in numbers, in churches, in services. We cannot do so. Everything has to be revamped. The Altars of the past have to be stripped. Our Rituals and Services have to remove the accretions of dust and habit from history. It won’t do anymore. This is an opportunity for us to use our imaginations and to be really creative.

Eucharist  (2):

The Mass is central to what we do. But the Mass has grown and expanded and often was made for monasteries rather than the general population. The prayers have become lumpy and don’t incarnate God in the lives of the ordinary people. We overload and overwhelm Mass with – a Confiteor which is wooden and strange; a Gloria which is unnecessary; a Creed which is frozen and unwieldy; a preface which is mixed up and crude. It is heavy stuff and intrusive. We put on three Readings which is an impossible dose however prepared everyone is. This isn’t a wish to shorten the Mass but rather to let the Ritual speak clearly. And then at our usual Mass, the priest speaks. Only the priest. But this is crazy. Mass is wonderful. The elements are moving. The people cannot be passive. Their experience of God has to be respected. We cannot talk of the Synodal Pathway if we aren’t listening; hearing; sharing; finding the ‘text being fulfilled even as we listen.’ The people have to speak.  We need a psychologically re-imagining of our Liturgy. Going online has challenged many of us to change our ways and to become more innovative. Thus ends the thought for the day!

Young Indi:

She is hungry for words. She wants to talk. She wants to see. She wants to discover. She is an adventurer. The river Blackwater speaks to her. The colours of the day speak to her. The birds speak to her. The animals speaks to her. The sky speaks. Every new person speaks to her. When she escapes into a big shop, everything speaks to her; and her mother and father are totally ignored.

She gets excited on the phone. She uses crazy words. From the moments she wakes up, she tells me – God is everywhere. God plays hide and seek. But she says that you have to look. She can’t get enough. She wants more. She plays with God. She laughs with God. She dances with God. She tells me not to tell her parents but God is very exciting and is the best play-friend in the world. Everything and every day and everyone is exciting. Going to bed at night and prays in this manner: “I can’t wait until the morning to see what surprises God has for me.”  Now how about that as Eucharist?

Seamus Ahearne osa.

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. Paddy Ferry says:

    Séamus Ahearne: A medley of disparate flavours!

    Séamus, we went to see Belfast last night. What a powerful film!

    And, what a wonderful actor young Jude Hill is!

    Lovely articles in Friday’s Scotsman and today’s Observer on Kenneth Brannagh and on the origins of the movie.

    Peace is so precious and fragile, something the crazy, Tory Brexiteers obviously didn’t give a second thought to.

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.