Séamus Ahearne on The Doc, Tír na nÓg, Indi and her interest in baptism…

Tír na nÓg

The 7th son of the 7th son:

The Doc has died. He was the seventh son of the seventh son. He was one of the characters of the village at home. He entertained the lords of the manor as well as most of the local population. Our family enjoyed a little story about the Doc. My mother always had a laugh with the Doc. Some of her best friends were more cautious! May (mother) was dying in Ardkeen. The Doc passed along the corridor and asked how she was. One of us said, “Come in Doc.” Those two very cautious friends (Nuala and Assumpta) were at May’s side. When they heard – ‘come in Doc,’ they moved back (thinking it was a ‘real’ doctor!) The Doc sat down, held May’s hands and gently accompanied her into death. He closed her eyes. Some of us even smiled then and since. May’s life-long comment about how to treat people was this: “You never know who will close your eyes.” I think Assumpta and Nuala were jealous! Rest in peace Doc Morrissey.

Bad company:

I had two bad days. It must be Michael’s fault. He joined me on those two mornings as I walked. The herons were sulking. They never appeared. They demand full attention and clearly are unwilling to welcome an intruder. Over the past six months, I have walked every day. The joints have protested. Sometimes quietly, oftentimes with much nagging, today they screamed (Plantar Fasciitis). Tomorrow I won’t be walking. What is worse, I had plans this morning. The gutters needed cleaning. I intended to put my bishop-companion, to work. He was good at peeling onions and readying carrots and parsnips. I intended to test him with the vegetation growing in the gutters. I was legless. He has abandoned me this afternoon just when the work was getting dirty! I will have to soak myself tomorrow in Dan 3:57 et seq.   That is the only way of replacing the Weeping Willow, the talking Tolka, the magisterial herons. I am bereft. As Mary Oliver wrote: “There are things you can’t reach. Bu you can reach out to them, and all day long. The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.” It is the ‘edge of mystery’ as she says. I will be stretching out.

Forever young:

I had a request for Mass last week. It was the Tír na nÓg group. There was a hand-over of leadership and they wanted to mark the occasion. They felt that the Eucharist would be the way to do it. We gathered. They were sad at the loss of the six months. (No meetings due to Covid). They enjoy each other. I asked them to tell me the story of the group. It was quite extraordinary. They had been so imaginative and very creative in all the adventures they had tried. It was delightful. They had gone on stage. They had visited all kinds of places. They had been musical. They had told stories of their individual life. It was beautiful and brilliant. Now I kept hearing the Hail Mary echoing in my mind: ‘Blessed are thou among women’!   Women together are formidable. The range of activities was very special. Many of these women were veterans. Full of years but youthful in so many ways. I can tell you that this was no static Liturgy. It was alive and brimming with enthusiasm and experience.

Some of the News:

Sam Bennett (Tour de France) regained the green jersey and won a stage (almost a second one.) Bradley Wiggins claimed him for Britain. Seán Kelly wasn’t having it. Stephen Kenny has work to do with the Irish Team. Young Foden and Greenwood celebrated their first caps inappropriately. Mairéad McGuinness adds some balance to the gender equality of the EU Commissioners. Phil Hogan is not happy with his treatment by the Government and tells ‘The Kilkenny People’ what he thinks. Boris is as good as Donald in being careless with International Treaties. The Leaving results appear and we seem to have learned something from the Brits. The incidence of Covid is frightening. The refugee crisis continues with multiple stories of rescues at sea even by Banksy.

Indi is on the phone:

Young Indi rang up and was quite indignant. Her father had fallen off his bike. She couldn’t believe that he could be so stupid. She made out that he was too old (she called him an ould fella) for riding a bike and more especially a mountain bike. She even began to question his ability to rear her when he was so careless. Strangely she now wants to encourage her mother to go out on a bike for a while! I tried to distract her from her rant. I told her that I get lots of emails about her. That people love what she has to say. That no-one is interested in the rest of the articles but only her viewpoint on life. I could see immediately how pleased she was. Her little eyes smiled on the phone. She was rather chuffed to get one over on me. She is competitive like her daddy. I showed her then a video I had received on WhatsApp of a baby like herself who had been baptised. The baby was on the phone and was saying that a fella with a long dress had almost drowned her with water (Baptised). The baby was flabbergasted. The people present, paid no attention to her predicament, but only kept on taking photos. Indi wasn’t happy that other babies were using the phone like herself and then asked me – “What was this Baptism thing?”

She was now hungry and tired and wanted to put down the phone but she had one more thing to talk about – the truth. She can’t grasp why people tell lies. The Russians. The Chinese. The UK Government. Brexit. Many people. She can’t understand at all why people fight and argue, dump the blame on everyone else, throw litter around, are so hurtful with each other. She sees life as such a revelation and so full of excitement, fun, discovery, wonder, beauty, happiness and goodness. “Oh why, oh why?” she says. “Doesn’t God show off something new and lovely every day?” She says: “Aren’t adults supposed to know what is right and good?” She wakes up every day knowing that she will meet new people, new views, new sights, new colours, new everything.

Seamus Ahearne osa

PS (From Jim McHugh’s emails)

“Jesus must have been Irish – he was unmarried, lived at home until he was 30, and his mother thought he was God.”  B Behan

As a further clarification of Brendan Behan’s revelation it seems certain now that Jesus was not a Derry man; he fell three times and didn’t sue the Council even once.   


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