Séamus Ahearne ponders poets, presidents, presenters, prophets and Indi’s musings…

‘Full many a flower is born to blush unseen……’


‘The Cure at Troy’ (inspired by the Trojan War’s last days) Séamus Heaney

“Believe that a further shore; Is reachable from here

Believe in miracles, And cures and healing wells.”  

Joe Biden likes that poem. I like some of it too. Somehow, I can never feel at home with Heaney’s poetry. But an idea occasionally catches my breath. Joe has used this poem appropriately. He is right. There is always more. There is something beyond us. There is more going on, than today. There is a curiosity in us. We keep on living and learning. The music of life causes us to dance. Even when our memory slows down and names don’t come easily to mind or the keys, glasses, are left somewhere but the ‘where’ can’t be remembered. There is a ‘further shore.’ It is ‘reachable.’ There are ‘miracles.’ There are ‘cures’ and ‘healing wells.’ It has happened for him. It does happen for us. It will. This is our faith.

Tommy Tiernan:

He was on Brendan O’Connor’s Saturday morning programme. I listened as I cooked lunch. This cooking is quite demanding! The Radio makes it easier. Tommy spoke of the strangeness of Lockdown. Woman and man were never made to be together all the time. They are too different. (Or so he said.) There has to be ‘woman’ space. And there has to be ‘man’ space. He spoke too of the healing aspect of sport. He spoke of working with timber. (I still retain the smell of wood from my childhood). He spoke of a lethargy. However, he has fallen in love again with his wife. He also spoke of his Chat Show and how he always met his interviewees blind.

Ave Maria:

The Kanneh-Masons provided the music for ‘Ave Maria’ on ‘Strictly’ (Results programme on Sunday). Those family musicians are delightful. The dancing was exquisite. The rest of the programme wasn’t for me. But then my outlook on life is very limited. I was amused that the ‘Ave Maria’ should find its way onto such a programme. In my amusement, I would like to know the thinking behind the choice…



During my walking, the trees ‘seduces me.’ They are worth a good look. They are never symmetrical. They glory in their differences. They are impressive in their individuality. It is a lesson in humility and miracle to admire the beauty of a tree. The poem rushes back to mind. The Trees (Joyce Kilmer). Or ‘full many a flower is born to blush unseen.’ (Gray’s Elegy). However, those trees, those flowers, those birds – do not waste their sweetness on the desert air. Something bigger than any of us is going on. It never depends on us seeing it or noticing it or being impressed by it. …There was a young lad in Carlisle who lived next door to the parish house. He was appalled. We were about to cut the grass behind the Church and house. We would disturb the wildlife! He was hurting severely at the very thought of this happening. He had a point.

‘Among your earthiest words, the angels stray’:

I had a lovely note from someone quoting Paddy Kavanagh’s ‘In Memory of my Mother.’ This piece is a very moving reflection on death and absence and even November. My writer began by apologising to Indi. He had used a bad word. “Hi.” I was about to say. “It’s cool.” But Indi would be really upset if I used such a horrible word. She is right – of course. His words to me were most encouraging. I won’t identify him!

“I’m Irish.” (Joe Biden)

We cannot escape the Joe Biden & Kamala Harris Show. There was a warmth, width, kindness, generosity in what they had to say. I cannot help but be sad for Donal Trump. His bullying tactics and his crudity of language were an insult. But in truth some 70 million voted for him. I wish he could show grace. I don’t know how many caught a lovely throw- away line from Joe Biden. He was moving out a door (after his success had been announced). “We are from the BBC.” His response: “I’m Irish.” The UK too must be recalling Barack Obama telling them that they might go to the end of the queue in their negotiating for a trade deal with the US if they messed up Brexit. Joe has been sharp too in regard to the Good Friday Agreement and Boris’ attempt to ride roughshod…..


That Cork goal. All the way from AFL in Melbourne, Australia! Michael Keane. Aston Villa beat Arsenal. The chaotic results continue. Man United win. Celtic win. Both after big losses. Roy Keane has his say. Maguire responds. Kevin De Bruyne misses a penalty. He who can do no wrong. Sam Bennett almost did it at the last sprint in the Vuelta. Dan Martin held on for fourth. Aidan O’Brien has a 1,2,3 Breeders’ Cup races (The Mile). Johnny Sexton keeps on apologising after his apparent sulk. Even without the fans, sports provides nourishment and interest in these dull days.

The God of nature:

The students at Castletown Primary School featured on ‘Morning Ireland’ (Monday). They had taken to the great outdoors to learn more about the wonders of the world outside the classroom. The local Greenway was part of their project. I was thinking back to school days. I’m not sure what we ever learned or did we learn anything. We may have learned how to learn. But education only happened after school finished. True of National School; of Secondary School; of University in Dublin and Rome and even London! I can’t understand how we ended up knowing so little. I was thinking recently of the Arctic Tern. The greatest traveller of all birds (animals). How did I manage to miss out on all the natural world in my years of studying? It is good to know that the Tern can come here. Greenland is the only one who gets the green light! We too are migratory ‘birds.’ We can fly. We can travel way beyond. We can stretch our minds and limbs and hearts. Our minds have to migrate to a bigger and wider world. The world of faith is there to be explored every day. If we get out of our own limited experiences.

Prophets needed:

Jonathan Sacks has died. He stood out among the religious leaders – as a public philosopher; as a theologian; as a spokesperson; as a writer. Knowledge. Learning. Ability. Demands that those who ‘qualify’ as academics have the responsibility to be sensible spokespeople for faith and religion. There is a dearth of such talent or rather an absence of people who will stick their necks out. I should send a photo of my young heron to all teachers of every kind, everywhere. My heron is outstanding in its own patch (seen on Saturday morning). With a long neck. With a sense of knowing who it was and what it was doing. How few are bold enough to speak; to write; to stand up for what matters. I wonder about that talent. Was it given us to bury or why was so much spent as an investment in our supposed education? We have all had an imposed sabbatical since March– what will be the fruits of this great Sabbath?

Out of the mouths of babes: Indi!

I got a video (WhatsApp) of Indi’s Da singing the Our Father to her. She was thrilled. She told me afterwards that she didn’t know that her Da knew the ‘Our Father.’ She knew he could sing! Her face was plastered with stirabout. She likes her porridge. I presume you know that stirabout is another name for porridge. Anyway, her face was also full of smiles and several squeals burst out of her mouth somewhat in tune with the words. She caught the love of her Da and therefore she caught the sense of the Lord’s Prayer.

As she approaches her 8th month birthday, her phone calls have got quite excitable. She wanted answers to her father’s song: What and where is heaven? Tell me about it, she says. What is this thing about ‘thy kingdom come’? What would the world look like if God’s wishes were listened to and lived? Now she knew what ‘daily bread’ meant. She likes her food. She gets it from her Ma and Da.

Then she launched into her own hunger for food. For fresh air. For fun. For laughter. For music. For people. For colours. For song. For wonder. For beauty. For excitement. For love. She tells me that the song (Our Father) reminds her of the goodness, gracefulness, godliness of every day. She got quite thoughtful then and said – “never let me ever take anything or anyone ever for granted. I am overwhelmed with the gift of each day and the love of Ma and Da.”

Seamus Ahearne osa





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  1. Joe+O'Leary says:

    There are people who say the election offers only a change of figurehead. But I’d say that the return from madness to normalcy is a transformative event, like the defeat of Napoleon. The worldwide impact is stupendous.

    The sacred ideal of Democracy, beloved of the Catholic Church since Pius XII discovered it was a jolly good thing in 1943, and celebrated warmly in Fratelli tutti, has been vindicated. Even if it’s likely that America again proves incapable of embodying what it proclaims, nonetheless the unfeigned enthusiasm of democratic leaders everywhere at its formal resumption of its founding principles indicates what an important event this is. If only Germany, Italy, and Russia had cut off their antidemocratic leaders after a mere four years!

    The world and the media sustained unrelenting vigilance toward the real danger Trump represented, and we are lucky indeed that normalcy has been restored, since the election hung on a slim majority in swing States. Without the pandemic Trump would have won.

    There’s a piece in the Guardian today to the effect that the election result does not really change the US trajectory of going to hell in a handbasket. But it’s at least a sock in the jaw to antidemocratic populism everywhere and a huge encouragement to those fighting for democracy.

  2. Pádraig+McCarthy says:

    Listen to the Trees:
    A passage from The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers) Ch.4, by J. R. R. Tolkien. In their wandering and meandering, two of the main characters, called hobbits, meet a talking tree, called an Ent, and they introduce themselves and the conversation proceeds:
    “I’m a Brandybuck, Meriadoc Brandybuck, though most people call me just Merry.”
    “And I’m a Took, Peregin Took, but I’m generally called Pippin, or even Pip.”

    “Hm, but you are hasty folk, I see,” said Treebeard. “I am honoured by your confidence; but you should not be too free all at once. There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain’t, as you might say. I’ll call you Merry and Pippin, if you please – nice names. For I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rate.” A queer half-knowing, half-humorous look came with a green flicker into his eyes.
    “For one thing it would take a very long while: my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.”

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