The Bard of Listowel (plus):
I associate Listowel with Writers’ Week and the characters of literature there – John B Keane (everything), Bryan MacMahon (The Master, especially), Brendan Kennelly (his colour of language and the voice), and Maurice Walsh (The Quiet man). I only visited the town once. It was for a funeral of a little child called Adam. However in recent times, St Mary’s has been in the News. I did hear Bryan Dobson and Seán Sheehy (RTÉ News at 1) have something akin to a bare-fisted battle. The basic rules of combat didn’t apply. Bryan tried hard but the slogger Seán, kept going and shouting. He reminded me of the Donald (Trump). Overall Seán Sheehy did ‘stir the pot’ with his comments at St Mary’s and his various appearances on Radio.
In some ways, the whole episode is quite amusing. There was great embarrassment at his words. And nonetheless, it isn’t too long past when his words would be mainline and core thinking. Are we then too sensitive to be reminded of views that we promulgated a little while ago? Or should we be very humble and admit how embarrassing some of the statements made, as Church officially, have been a little while ago? Seán Sheehy highlighted for me the Trumpian wing of the Church in the States which I simply can’t understand. It is an embarrassment for me that anyone could follow the policies and behaviour of that man and see it as right. The learning surely for all of us as ministers in the Church, is to walk gently and humbly into the future and to be very pastoral and caring of everyone. We have made mistakes. But we don’t have to apologise for everything and keep on blushing. We are learning. The Word becomes Flesh anew in every era. We are students and theologians today. Whoever might be destined for hell (in Seán’s thinking?) – let’s dump that thinking and also let embarrassment go to hell! Faith always has to be full of gentle humour and not doctrinaire!
Hasn’t she done well?
Gillian Gibson Keegan was interviewed by Nick Robinson. (BBC). Not too many of us know Gillian. She is Secretary of State for Education in the UK. She was appointed by Rishi Sunak. She came from a place called Huyton in Liverpool. This was a very poor area which was politically labour. Many would have been influenced by Derek Hatton (Militant tendency) in those days. Keegan came through school where very few emerged with any qualifications. She went to work as an apprentice in a car factory in Kirby. And life changed. She moved into business and worked very successfully on the international scene. Most of her family remain Labour. How she eventually joined the Tories is quite a mystery. But her interview with Nick Robinson was delightful. Her roots in family and community were spoken of with great love. She enjoyed telling the story of her grandmother who was senile. She showed the granny some of her election literature. Granny loved the photos of her granddaughter. And then she said: “That’s not my party.” Keegan came across so well in the interview – in her ability to share views; to listen; to be different and yet to remain friends. It sounded close to what we hope to do in the Synodal method! A respect for others without arrogance.
The South Africans came to Dublin and the world champions were beaten. The Argentinians went to Twickenham and beat England. Séamus Power has had a good few weeks in the US (golf). Rhys McClenaghan is a world champion in gymnastics. ‘On days like these’ is a book written on Martin O Neill’s life in football. Roy Keane features too, and is praised not just for his acerbic comments, but for his knowledge of football, and his tactical awareness. Tony Adams has remained in Strictly Come Dancing despite not being able to dance. Again Tony’s past story is a good one. Young Ellie Simmonds was eliminated in the Dance Off. She is the Paralympian swimmer who apparently has been brilliant throughout the show. I never saw the dancing but am told by those who know, that she was excellent and her partner adapted magnificently, despite the disparity in height. Arsenal, Liverpool, Brighton, Newcastle, Man City and even Aston Villa… are doing well. Doesn’t sport lift our spirits? I love to pass down Érin’s Isle in the Parish and to see all the young ones gathered for hurling, football, camogie. And in the philosophy of the past: It is not winning but the taking part (de Courbertin) and the sense of working together than matters.
Relics on the way:
I read this morning that some relics are on a journey. It seems that Bernadette is travelling through England, Scotland and Wales. Padre Pio is on his way to Down and Connor. It appears that these trips are highly regarded by many. I’m not deeply impressed myself. However, as we focus on our local saints, the gathering for the 2nd November was seriously moving. Last week, we had a packed church. It was a dark and stormy night. But people came. Many were young. The dead of the past year (and those who died during Covid) were named and remembered. The Service was very reflective. Many, if not most, in the church, would not be regular attendees. But the reverence, the respect, the quietness, was extraordinary. It was as if, everyone ‘took off their shoes’ as they approached the memory of those who had gone. It was sacred. I can’t see the relics of Bernadette or Padre Pio having the same effect. The Sacrament of the moment (the collective at the Service) brought the past alive and brought God into the middle of all our lives. These then are our saints.
I met her father Nigel over in Kilnamanagh at his uncle Desi’s funeral. He mentioned in passing, that his daughter Indi, was bossing him around. He said that she had a mentor – her mother! He wouldn’t go as far as saying that she was immersed in the terrible twos but he was finding it hard to cope with two bossy women! He then said that young Indi was now into the colour Purple. Everything had to be purple. She hasn’t read the controversial book by Alice Walker: ‘The Color Purple.’ But she seems to like the colour purple song: ‘Dear God, dear Stars, dear Trees, dear Peoples, dear Everything.’ I wonder do the words associated with Purple apply to young Indi: Wisdom, Creativity, Royalty, Power, Ambition? Now I have to say, that I did see her dancing with her father last night (WhatsApp). She must have been happy to have him back from Dublin.
Seamus Ahearne osa 7th November 2022.