Séamus Ahearne in a tree-hugging Strictly Come Dancing mood with Brian Boru, Rodin and Indi!

Dance as though no one is watching.


‘Symphony’ by Clean Bandit, is familiar to all. The words, in the song too, are rather appropriate. Rose Ayling-Ellis was magnificent. She definitely tugged at the heart-strings. Giovanni was also rather special. (Some of the women here were cautious and concerned about his romantic tendencies.) We were drawn into Rose’s world through the dance: A silent world. We had (for a moment) a glimpse of what it is like to be profoundly deaf. The deaf ones around here were enthralled. They loved the part, when the music went silent. It is a mystery how anyone can dance as Rose does; how her body can hear the music; how she can maintain the rhythm. Surely everyone knows this story?! It is Strictly Come Dancing. I didn’t see the particular show (on BBC1) but was sent a video. It is a celebration of wonder and beauty and miracle.


Stephen Kenny’s boys did well against Luxembourg. Lewis Hamilton had an extraordinary win in Sao Paolo. The All Blacks withered against the Irish and the Irish world exploded with exuberance. The Aviva displayed a maelstrom of emotions. The three Irish Kiwis led the dance of delight. Even Joe Biden joined in. The Ballymacarbry girls beat everyone. They were county champions for the 40th time in a row in Waterford. This has to be the outstanding result. Now N Ireland drew with Italy. And Scotland beat Denmark. Sport never stops giving.


COP26 has ended. 197 countries agreed on something which was remarkable. Oil once was gold and now it is turning into poison. How could the Saudis agree with such proposals on fossil fuels? Coal was known as black diamonds one time and now it has to be phased down if not out. The climate issue was a topic for the Greens in time past and relevant only to them; to the Eco Warriors; to the Tree people. We almost expect to see sandals everywhere and the place flooded with vegans and vegetarians. But this is serious. One paper headlined after the agreement – ‘We are on the road to hell.’ Ralph Fiennes was interviewed on The Andrew Marr Show. His throw-away line applies to most things: ‘We have to find a better way of being human.’

It is quite amazing that the whole project has thwarted the arrogance of humanity. We thought that we were in control of everything and that all nature was subject to us and subject to our wishes and whims. It is not so. We can discover some humility with this new learning. Something of the notion of wisdom in Scripture is surfacing here. The whole world has to become more aware of God!


My muse has reappeared. The heron has nodded to me for the past four mornings at the Tolka. Weeks had gone by and nothing and nobody spoke to me. Only the water whispered or growled.

The trees were shedding. The Weeping Willow holds on. It is reassuring. Trees matter. They were very prominent at COP26. The language of trees and their underground activity, is enlightening. I was recalling this, as I walked. Sunday night’s programme A Year in Provence with Carol Drinkwater came to mind. I had accidentally stumbled on it. It was delightful. She took us wandering. To lots of places but I loved the way she spoke about the Olive Trees. How Renoir had bought the land near her farm, in years gone by, only to protect and preserve the Olive trees. The respect was there for the trees. Carol then produced the oil from her trees, and was thrilled to be soaking her oil in their own bread. It was wholesome. I was thinking too of the oldest tree in the world – located in the Great Basin Bristle Cone Pine forest. The Methuselah Grove is 5000 years old (E California). I hear too that the oldest tree in Ireland is in Maynooth (St Patrick’s). Is it called the Brian Boru? So yes. Trees have a longer life than we have. They are great contributors to the world. They were the stars of COP26. We must be an embarrassment to them as human beings. They do their job. We often don’t do our job.

The AGM:

The AGM of the ACP took place. We had to attend by Zooming. It is great that so many of us could do that. There was a loss but that is the reality of our life at present. It was a long meeting. Possibly too long. Gerry did an excellent job of coordinating everything. The meeting stirs up deep gratitude. The work of the ACP. The permanent existence of the website. The Liturgy resources. The support given to those who are broken and in trouble. The sense of the peace-sign: Being there for each other. The communion of fraternity. The magnificent work done by Mattie and Liamy to keep the site alive. Pat Rogers and Bernard Cotter – the gift their contribution is. The amazing work done by the Leadership team and the way they have adapted to the Covid crisis with Zoom productions. The availability of the Leaders to the media. We are blessed. Very blessed. The only response we can have is Thank you. Gratitude has to be uppermost. But then Eucharist is at the core of faith…….

We can be so proud. There is always a tension. Because the ACP raises issues and confronts problems, it can be easily dismissed as negative. We do have to watch that imbalance. We must also catch the sheer privilege of being in ministry. The wonder of everyday in what we are involved. The overwhelming sense of God in what we do and the saints of each day. Too much earnestness is not our message. Enthusiasm and excitement and surprise has to be our main gift. Fatalism with the placard – ‘The End is Nigh,’ cannot be our message. The pollution and contamination of negative commentary is a rust which could distort everything we are about. Yes. We must be careful.

A final thought then on Synod and from the AGM: The Synod cannot be thrown to the theologians or become a thing for Francis and his South American background. It isn’t a bishops’ thing. It has to happen in our local communities; in our parishes. We are the main exponents of this. It is simple and practical. If we believe in each other and listen and share. The minister hasn’t got the monopoly of truth. Dangerous question is: How do we make decisions in parish life and who makes them? How do we celebrate Liturgy or prepare it? How do we adapt to the people on the fringes of life in the community? Here is where Synod has to happen. Our faith world is a wonderful world. We should be laughing our way through life.


She must have seen Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker. That is her pose. And then she continues to show her movement from thinking to learning. She is reading. A book on Spirituality. I don’t know what those parents are doing. They blame me for ‘dumping’ such books on her. I didn’t do it. She is much more interested in books than in toys. Anyway she loves her life. She is constantly asking me questions in those nightly phone calls. She is becoming more conscious of her parents eavesdropping on her calls. She wants privacy.

She loves the dancing and has now tried to imitate young Rose. She loves being in the country and is totally captivated by the River Blackwater; by the changing moods of the trees; by the light and shade as she looks towards the Knockmealdowns and the Comeraghs.

She can’t quite grasp how light happens every day and how the dark comes down. She wants to throw a switch. She doesn’t understand why she can’t control the day and the night. She is an adventurer.

Seamus Ahearne osa

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One Comment

  1. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Séamus Ahearne…

    Ah no, Seamus. The Brian Boru Oak is down in Clare. The Silken Thomas Yew is indeed on the front lawn of St Patrick’s Maynooth, about half-way between the Fitzgerald Castle and Stoyte House. It’s probably about 800 years old, being a mere stripling of 300 years when Silken Thomas, the 10th Earl, apparently strummed the lute neath its branches the night before he surrendered to his cousin Henry VIII in 1534-5. He was hanged with his five uncles at Tyburn. The Kildare Fitzgeralds always had a tangled relationship with the English Tudors. But that old yew may well date from the arrival of the first Fitzgeralds in 1169 – even before the first Garret Mór agus Garret Óg.

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