Séamus Ahearne goes green…

The Greening of Life

The Tolka

Tony got to the Tolka before me this morning. I asked him to tell me what he had noticed today. He saw the kingfisher up river. He saw the young ducklings (which I had also met). He saw the snipe, zig zagging its way over the water. He spoke of the tale that the snipe’s flight was jagged, to avoid the shooters!

We were joined by some ducks on the road who ignored us as they went about their business. He saw the swans with the male getting very protective of the female, as she settled on the little island. The male was getting rather frustrated with the younger male who wouldn’t leave the Ma. Tony was missing Máire (our photographer) who love meeting at the river and discussing the wildlife around. We then spoke of the Programme on The Burren. RTÉ1 Sunday evening at 18.30.

The Burren:

I had been inveigled into watching that Programme. My friends in The Burren are lovers of those rocks and woe betide anyone who isn’t reverential. I have shown a little disrespect in the past! The early words (Programme) were indicative. Heart of stone. Symphony of life. It was all true. This apparently bleak and empty place was buzzing with life. Gentians. Orchids. Birds. Hares. Foxes. Goats. Butterflies. Pine martens. Cuckoos. Nests. Underground rivers. Cattle being wintered on the heights. Fossils. It was a wonder-land and beautiful. An explosion of habitats. A revelation. What an extraordinary metaphor in itself? How we look at places and people and moments and memories.   There is a hidden hinterland secreted everywhere if we have a mind and heart to search.


The Sporting weekend:

The paper-news prior to the Grand National was that the bookies stood to lose €50m, if Rachael Blackmore won. Her name faded from the Media until she became the News on Saturday evening. The first four home were Irish. Ten out of the first eleven were Irish. The women (rugby) were powerful against Wales. Leinster wiped out Exeter Chiefs. Sam Bennett continues to be top class. Our rowers are very special. Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won gold. Emily Hegarty, Eimear Lambe, Aifric Keogh and Fiona Murtagh won silver. And then there was Hideki Matsuyama to add glamour to the weekend.

Kung and Cardinal and the Lectionary:

Hans Kung has died. The Times and The Guardian did obituaries. I don’t know if The Telegraph or The Irish Times or Independent, did one. The fact of such papers featuring Kung, says something about the man and his place on the world stage. He was flamboyant. He was a proper catholic in his wide interests. I liked Paddy Ferry’s story on Paul VI and Barth. Some of us found great encouragement, enlightenment and inspiration in Kung. He dragged theology out of academia into the familiar language of the world. He didn’t indulge in verbal gymnastics which was the nonsense of much theological study in our student time where the adversarii were dismissed with alacrity. The QED was easy and cheap. Kung was articulate and fluent. His words took their place with ease, in the public forum. He was a blessing. One article on him was sent to me from Skye. That link included an article on Ernesto Cardinal who died in March 2020. His life too was rich and very catholic. The world of poetry; of politics; of liberation theology; of community, enriched many and was shared. He wrote a version of the New Testament called El Evangelio en Solentiname which was meant for the ‘ordinary’ people. I hope that those involved now, in producing a new Lectionary realise that they have to do something similar. It has to be readable. It has to be sensible. It has to reach the hearts and minds of those hearing it. It cannot grate on the listeners. It has to be applicable to all of us who are ‘ordinary’ folk. We hear it. We respond to it. We see the living God speaking into our experience of life. It isn’t for the academics and the purists with their subtleties. The crude language of the New Missal can never be allowed occur again.


Philip of Edinburgh:

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip has died. I have little interest in Royalty (in State or Church) and its accoutrements. But Philip was attractive. He was curmudgeon. He was brazen. He was politically incorrect. He said all the wrong things in the most inappropriate places. I liked that. He came across as real. Mary McAleese spoke on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning. Her words were very special. She was deeply impressed by his knowledge of History and his Religious commentary. She saw that sense of acceptance and reconciliation in the very presence in Ireland (of Queen and Duke) despite what had happened to the man who was central to Philip’s own life – Louis Mountbatten. She was moved when asked to hand out the Duke of Edinburgh Awards in Belfast while Philip did the President’s Awards Gaisce in Dublin. She was very clear too on N Ireland having the best of both worlds in the Protocol. That clearly is not the view of the DUP. But she knows that even if the phrase ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ might apply, Unionism can’t bear being made to feel different to the people on the mainland.


She has a dose of the humours. I can see a sulk coming on. It is a simple thing but it has become huge for her. It is the fact that all the children are gone back to school. She asks rather pathetically – why she can’t go. It is rather useless telling her that she is too young. She wants to learn. She points out rather blatantly how much she has learned in a year. She struts about and says that she is a top class learner and student. She is interested in everything. She is curious. She loves every new day. She sees things differently. She believes that school would advance her learning and would introduce her to new people and new stories. She has outgrown ‘the old folk.’

I can’t convince her or change her mind. That is her pre-occupation for now. Her last throw (and it wasn’t a dice!) was this one: “I am special. I am unique. I have arrived here. God has a plan for me. God wants me to see things and people, to discover and to learn. Are all of you stopping me from doing what God wants? Are you afraid that I might find out too much and know too much?” What could I say? I was flabbergasted. She is persuasive. She saw her Garden of Eden and wanted more. Like most women, she needed to say the last word!!!!


Seamus Ahearne osa





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