Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Numbers at work

There are 2.01m people working in the Irish State. It is the highest number since 2009.

There has been a 74 per cent rise in Irish emigrants returning to live in the State this year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Taking joy in another person's misfortune

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
The word schadenfreude has been anglicised. It means to take enjoyment from seeing or hearing about another person's misfortune. It comes from two German nouns: Schaden meaning damage and Freude, which means joy.

There's a lot of schadenfreude about these days and indeed, there has been for some time. Then again it might be a very Irish thing that's always been there. Maybe in the past we didn't analyse it in the way we do today. It might be that we didn't speak about it. We just 'did it'. 'Begrudgery'.

American writer Gore Vidal  sums it up:  “Every time a friend succeeds I die a little."

Two weeks ago I was talking to a man who works in a recycling depot. He expressed delight about how Pat Hickey had been jailed. His argument is that there are too many privileged and well-heeled people who live lives that don't seem to fit in with an Ireland where so many people have had to experience so much austerity.

I often meet this man and it's more or less the same story every time we meet. His face lights up when he's telling me about the banker or the celebrity who's been given a prison sentence. Last week he argued strongly in favour of the Brazilian way of arresting people and how they show it all on television. He felt it is something that could be introduced in Ireland.

He made me think more about the Olympic story. The idea that Pat Hickey was sleeping in a different room than his wife because of snoring issues did seem extravagant. That is not the world the depot man inhabits.

It's that sort of behaviour that is currently propelling many people to be disdainful of the management classes and also to have second thoughts about voting for the establishment political parties They have a point. But nothing is simple and what's happening in front of our eyes can't lead us to a good place.

During the Brexit debate in the UK Conservative government minister Michael Gove suggested we should not listen to experts. It was as crass as that from the man. It was appalling. 

Of course we have to have the best people in the jobs and they have to be paid appropriately for the work they do. But at the same time, when it comes to bearing the brunt of 'austerity' it's simply not fair always to ask the 'little person' to make the most sacrifices. It's important that government makes sure the burden is proportionately spread. Is that being done?

Donald Trump has perfectly honed in on the feelings and mood of those who feel forgotten and 'duped' by the establishment and the political parties. Last week he told a black community they had nothing to lose by voting for him. Can it get more insulting than that? But it's an insult and a trick that is gaining much ground.

The snoring episode is an example of trying to understand why so many people are simply fed up with the 'management class' right across society.

Schadenfreude is not a nice characteristic. It's far too negative and nasty. But it seems to be a 'thing' that demagogues hone in on and use it to allow themselves to become the new 'management class'.

We are always going to have the 'management class'. In a democracy we have a chance to get rid of them somewhat easier and more often than in other systems. But it can't be healthy to take delight in the misfortune of anyone, even those who might well deserve their 'comeuppance'.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Gilmore on vulgar populism

Nice piece in today's Irish Independent on Eamon Gilmore by Cormac McQuinn.

I think what Trump represents is a kind of vulgar populism that is now in political fashion.

There's almost a kind of - the less you know about something the better.

In a way, what [Jeremy] Corbyn represents in the British Labour Party is the flip side of that coin. It's the left wing version of that kind of populism where it's about slogans.

Poor word choice in Opening Prayer in today's Mass

Below is the Opening Prayer/Collect at Mass today.

One would imagine, on the day that is in it, the translator would have avoided the word 'ahead' in the Opening Prayer.

Every schoolboy/girl knows about the 'beheading' of John the Baptist.

O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice, we, too, may fight hard for the confession of what you teach. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

'Burkinis' alive and well in Maynooth and elsewhere

The burkini row is surely not just about fashion. Is it a row about clothes making a statement?

People are entitled to wear what they like provided it does not offend the laws of 'common decency'.

We are living in divisive times.

The burkini row is also happening, under a different guise, within the Catholic Church. In some odd way the current Maynooth controversy is in many aspects the same sort of thing. And it's not just in Maynooth it is happening.

The disdain, the lack of trust, the division between the opposing sides is shocking.

The cartoon below appeard in yesterday's Irish Times.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Starbucks versus Irish Rail

At Starbucks in Colbert Rail Station, Limerick yesterday at 19.45 a rail passenger asked for a glass of tap water. Not possible unless you pay for it.

At 22.00 on the same day at Heuston Station an Irish Rail personnel was waiting on the arrival of a train to find a coat which a passenger had left on the train.

They had phoned Heuston Station about the coat and Irish Rail had someone on the platform to search the train on arrival.

Starbucks is a large US corporation. Irsh Rail is a publicly owned Irish company.

Friday, August 26, 2016

US illiteracy

Thirty million American adults cannot read.

Worldwide, almost 800 million people are illiterate.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Paschal Tiernan OP, RIP

Dominican priest Paschal Seamus Tiernan died in Tallaght Hospital on Sunday, August 21.

Paschal, who was born in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, spent most of his life working in Trinidad and Tobago.

His priestly work brought him to prisons and nunciatures.

Five years ago he returned to Ireland and in recent years had experienced poor health, something he carried with great fortitude. Few people have been in and out of hospital as often as Paschal has. He had been admitted to the hospital some days before his death.

The Dominican community in St Mary's Priory in Tallaght took great care of Paschal all during his illness.

In great ill-health he put together this year's Irish Dominican Directory.

Paschal was a kind man, who was genuinely interested in people.

The main mourners were his sisters Kathleen and Anne, and brothers Sean and Patrick.  Many of Paschal's extended family and friends attended the Mass. A number of people travelled from Trinidad and Tobago to say goodbye. A large number of Dominican priests concelebrated at the Requiem Mass. Also present were visiting priests, including the parish priest of St Patrick's Parish, Ballyshannon.

Gregory Carroll, provinical of the Irish Dominican Province was the principal celebrant and preached the homily.

Burial took place afterwards in the cemetery in the priory grounds.

Paschal Tiernan was born on April 10, 1929.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Luxury rail service begins next week in Ireland

The Belmond Grand Hibernian Company begins its operation in Ireland next week.

This is a picture of the train being used, stopped at Charleville Station yesterday at approximatley 17.00.

The train is made up of former Irish Rail Mark lll coaches.

A seven day/six night journey through Ireland will set you back €7,722.00.

Apologies for the quality of the photo. It was taken from a train stopped on the up track.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The suffering of a nine-month-old baby in Aleppo

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
The Gospel reading at Mass on Sunday contained the line: 'Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last." (Luke 13:30). Indeed that sentiment has appeared in Gospel readings at Mass on at least three occasions in the last 10 days. 

I imagine it can be interpreted in a variety of ways but surely it is telling us to care for the weak and the fragile: at our peril can we stand idly by while people are being brutalised, exploited and killed.

Last Tuesday, August 16, the day after the feast of the Assumption, Channel Four News reported from one of the last hospitals still standing in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The story it told was shocking. A nine-month-old baby covered in blood was rushed into the makeshift hospital. He had a wound at the side of his head, the result of shrapnel from a barrel bomb hitting him. His uncle, who was rushing him out of the house, was killed en route to the hospital.

It was almost impossible to watch it on television. A little nine-month-old baby to have this happen him. It's cruel, heartbreaking too. It was some relief to see the love and kindness of the hospital staff who were caring for him.

The planes that are flying over Syria dropping bombs have been made by large industrial corporations. Most likely by US, Chinese and Russian firms. 

According to the Institute of Strategic Studies, last year the US spent $597.5 billion on 'defence'. China spent $145.8 billion, Saudi Arabia $81.9 billion, Russia $65.6 billion and our neighbours, the United Kingdom $56.2 billion. 

Just imagine the number of wealthy people who made large sums of money in all that business. No fear of any of them or indeed their children being rushed into a makeshift hospital bleeding to death. 

But it's their hardware that is flying overhead unleashing the terror. Most likely the aircraft manufacturers all dine and wine in the best of restaurants, send their children to private schools. Sophisticated people, whether they be American, Russian, Saudi, British or Chinese.

Later that evening I was back thinking of that line in the Gospel: "Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last." This time  I had just finished talking to a man in his early 50s who has no spare cash, he has no resources and lives from hand-to-mouth. He has no job and he lives in a dingy one-room flat. He could not afford a suit for an upcoming wedding. Shocking, depressing too.

Has it ever dawned on you how in 'religious circles' there seems to be so little argument or dispute about this line in the Gospel? Seldom is there a heated debate about these sort of things. Compare the silence on these topics to what goes on in the area of sexual morality. Just look at all the scraps and rows that have developed over gay marriage and divorce. Allow gay marriage and divorce and the end is nigh but allow people become billionaires by building weapons of death and there's not a whisper. Who cares about a middle-aged man who can't afford to buy a suit for a wedding?

The day the Leaving Cert results came out a teacher I know was over the moon. Two of her pupils did well in English. "The odds are against them as they sleep rough," she said.

And then there are the one billion people who have not enough food to eat.

It's obscene. Baffling too.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Brexit sees rush on German passport applications

An interesting paragraph in the German Constitution which is called the 'Basic Law'.

Last year the German embassy in London recieved 400 applications for passports under this regulation. And since Brexit the numbers seeking German passports has increased.

Article 116
[Defnition of “German” – Restoration of citizenship]
(1) Unless otherwise provided by a law, a German within the meaning of this Basic Law is a person who possesses German citizenship or who has been admitted to the territory of the German Reich within the boundaries of 31 December 1937 as a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such person.

(2) Former German citizens who between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall on application have their citizenship restored. They shall be deemed never to have been deprived of their citizenship if they have established their domicile in Germany after 8 May 1945 and have not expressed a contrary intention.

And this the preamble to the 'Basic Law'
Conscious of their responsibility before God and man, Inspired by the determination to promote world peace as an equal partner in a united Europe, the German people, in the exercise of their constituent power, have adopted this Basic Law. Germans in the Länder of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia have achieved the unity and freedom of Germany in free self-determination. This Basic Law thus applies to the entire German people.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Priests say papal nuncio 'out of sync' with Irish people

The Irish Times yesterday carried a report on comments made by the Association of Catholic Priests on the papal nuncio Charles Brown.

Below is the link to the piece.

Tess in Bohernabreena

While the mountains and hills may now be out of bounds for Tess, she did manage yesterday to walk around the Bohernabreea reservoir and in torrential rain too.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

From first to last

'Thinking Anew' column in today's The Irish Times.

Michael Commane

It's mesmerising to observe how no two people are the same. Walk down any street and notice all the different faces.

Each one of us is unique.

But our uniqueness never makes us better than others.

Far too often in history too much damage has been done in the name of superiority.

Tomorrow's Gospel gives us a timely warning: 

'Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last." (Luke 13:30).

It comes naturally for people to think that they come from the best country in the world, that their team is the best team. When that sort of thinking is carried to extremes then we are in dangerous waters. 

The Psalmist comes to mind: "Ordinary men are only a puff of wind,/important men delusion;/put both in the scales and up they go,/lighter than a puff of wind. (Ps 62: 9)

All forms of fanaticism are scary. There is a mindset about  that inclines us to believe that we need a 'strong person' to make us 'strong again'.

In spite of people often doing it, the adjective 'unique' can never be qualified. It can never be 'truly unique'. It is an unusual adjective. We are all unique but none of us is 'truly unique'. Interesting.

Yes, the Irish are great and special people but so too are the people of the United Kingdom, citizens of Vietnam. There are great Christians, great Muslims, great Buddhists, great agnostics. We are all great and special in our own unique way. Some people are better than others. Some  are strong, others are weak.

In a mysterious and marvellous way the world and its inhabitants is made up of an almost infinite variety of characteristics. Our environment, accident, tradition, luck, all play a role in making us who we are. But to talk about one group of people being by their nature better than another ends up in catastrophe. It's jingoism to talk about 'great countries' or making 'us great again'. History tells us the evil and nonsense of such thinking.

These days one seldom hears the expressions 'the one true faith' or 'outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation'. Am I a 'heretic' if I venture to say, thank God, we no longer hear such expressions? 

Surely that sort of thinking cannot be helpful and how can it fit in to the thinking of tomorrow's Gospel reading?

Right now the world seems badly in need of a new type of thinking that looks around corners and recognises that life is nuanced. There are no simple answers. Our uniqueness has to be nurtured and cherished. It is only right that we should be questioning the wealth and the privileges of the 'elite classes' but it has become a sort of a catch-cry to throw it at all in sundry. 

Anyone we don't like we can attack them by calling them the 'elite'. It has become a dirty word. We all need to strive to be good people, to do things well, realising that we are all in this together. It should never be a world of 'them versus us'. Instead,  we should strive for a world of unique people, working for the good of all. As Christians, we believe that each one of us in her/his own particular way has something unique to give to the world.

It's not being better that makes us good. If we think by putting people down we go up, then we have got it all so wrong. The way to go up and do better is to bring others with us. We all need to see the good in others. There's so much to see and admire.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Legionaries of Christ's Maciel and all the holy sham

On Tuesday evening RTE One Television aired an hour-long report on the Legionaries of Christ.

It told the story of the congregation's founder Marcial Maciel, who was a criminal. But his crimes were surrounded by 'holy behaviour'. He was a scam artist, who committed heinous crimes and collected vast sums of money under false  pretenses.

In any other world an organisation that behaved in such a way would be closed down. Not so in the Catholic  Church. It is simply extraordinary that the organisation is still in existence.

In the mid-1970s I studied in Rome with many young Legionaries of Christ. It was as clear as the nose on one's face that there was something wrong. These young men had been brainwashed and their behaviour was so abnormal and unreal it is simply shocking that no one was doing something about the organisation back then.

But that 'holy sham' 'stuff' is alive and well in the Catholic Church. Is it all a fraud? Most likely.

When people began to ask questions of Marcial Maciel the answer always was that the 'world' was out to get him and that it was imortant for the Church to pray for the conversion of the world. Everything in the world was evil and it must be confronted.

Where does one hear and read that sort of language today?

The Legionaries of Christ were tolerated. Why? One reason: they were bringing in large sums of money.

And then all those brainwashed men being ordained, and ordained in large numbers every year.

If it were not so sad it would be terribly funny. What makes it even sadder is that all that 'stuff' seems to be in the ascendent today.

Just as there was something wrong with the Legionaries of Christ in the 1970s so too there is something wrong within the institutional church today.

An attitude or environment that existed in the Legionaries of Christ, certainly in the 1970s in Rome seems to have spread to many religious congregations.

And is it all linked to an attitude to sexuality that is not the norm?

Four headlines in the September issue of  the free-sheet 'Alive' run as follows:

"Working to abolish Christianity in Ireland"
"Harvard students fed intellectual drivel"
"Men no longer know how to man up"
"Fairer debate in UK because no groupthink on EU"

                       Fr Marcial Maciel.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

No Tess on Scarr today

Sadly no Tess on Scarr today. The vet has advised anything more than an hour walk is now too much for her.

It's difficult to take to the hills without her.

Irish weather forecast could easily have led one astray today. Not a drop of rain on Scarr and as the day went on, the brighter it got. 

Scarr is 641 metres and a great walk. Magnificent views right from the start, all the way to the top.

Caught a glimpse of Turloguh Hill. Great memories looking at the man-made lake from so many places in the Wicklow Hills with Jordan O'Brien and the late John O'Gorman.

Obscene spending

Last year the United States of America spent $597.5 billion on 'defence'. China spent $145.8bn, Saudia Arabia $81.9bn, Russia $65.6bn and the UK $56.2bn

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

More doing German

This year 7,627 students sat German Leaving Cert and 25,758 sat the French paper.

In German 6.4 per cent obtained an A1 on the honours paper.

The number sitting the German paper this year is up by 365 on last year.

There were 346 students sitting Russian Leaving Cert. 68.2 per cent received an A1 on the honours paper.

1,320 sat the Relgious Education paper of whom 3.1 per cent received an A1 on the honours paper.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

School's a good place to be

This week's INM Irish Regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
When little five-year-old Seán heard he was going to the Aqua Dome in Killarney on Saturday with his Dad and siblings he got so excited, his exuberance made his aunt suggest, instead of going to the Aqua Dome they might make a trip to the school. Before she had the words out of her mouth he piped up, "I love school".

Out of the mouths of babes....

How school has changed and all for the better. Yes, things go wrong, there's no perfection on earth but schooling in Ireland has improved beyond belief.

That phrase 'in the good-old days' certainly did not apply to Irish schools.

Corporal punishment was banned in Irish schools in 1982 and on a personal note I can say it was the best development in education in my years of teaching.

There's hardly a person in the country over 40 who was not slapped in school and indeed many people will have been the victims of savage and cruel beatings.

In some schools the 'privilege' of slapping rested with the dean of discipline. What barbarism. The idea of physically punishing someone because she or he was not able to answer a question in sums or English sounds today so bizarre but that was the reality. 

Whatever about slapping someone for bad behaviour but it really was inappropriate to hit little people for not being able to add or spell. Is it any wonder so many people suffer from varying degrees of mental illness?

School might well have been great for the bright and the well-behaved but a terrible torture for those who were weak and those students who found it difficult to behave in a way which pleased the teacher.

School could have been an angry and nasty place. Far too often it left indelible marks on people that lasted for the rest of their lives. And all this was done in an Ireland that professed strong allegiance to Christianity, where the majority of the schools were run by religious congregations.

It really is difficult to fathom. What's even more difficult to understand is how people can look back on that Ireland and see it as the halcyon days. It was anything but. In preparing this piece, an elderly woman, who is mild in character, told me about teachers who were 'vicious' in school. 

Those schools and that time played a significant role in brutalising us and indeed helping make us submissive and frightened. Imagine learning a poem off by heart for the sole reason that you would not be hit if you could recite it. That can't have been healthy.

The good teachers never needed to slap pupils. They had the skills and talents to inspire her or his charges to want to learn the material that was being taught in the classroom.

Do you remember that horrible expression: 'children should be seen and not heard'? It sounds like some sort of opening line in a mission statement for bullies. How dare adults say such a thing about children. 

And we all took it on the chin. 

It doesn't mean that everything is perfect these days. At least today a teacher cannot give vent to her or his anger by using physical force on a pupil.

They can still use their tongue as a weapon but even with that, pupils and parents have far more recourse these days when such things happen than they had in the past.

It's back to school soon and guess what, little Seán will be in his element. And good luck to those getting their Leaving Cert results on Wednesday.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dominican stories: a prelate and maybe an Aldi brother

Two intersting stories.

Story one.

Fr William Barden, who was Archbishop of Isfahan, was born in 1908 and was living at 1 Mander's Terrace when the 1911 census was taken. He was christened Kevin Barden.

The fine town house is beside the LUAS stop at Ranelagh.

More anon.

Story two.

In 1972 a Dominican priest, Pater Albrecht lived at the Dominican Priory in Lindenstraße in Cologne.

He was an intersting man, who smoked large cigars. He seemed to have close contact with people in Cologne and the surrounding area. In the house he was a quiet man and one could get the impression that he was considered an 'outsider' by the 'management team' in the community.

He was born somewhere in the Ruhr area, maybe Essen. In the 1970s he was probably in his 50s or 60s.

If I recall correctly I was told that his brother had a shop somwhere near Essen.

Aldi was founded by two brothers whose surname was Albrecht.

Fr Albrecht certainly looked like a frustrated businessman. And it seemed as if he was not understood by the rest of the community. He had his own ideas and thought for himself.

He was always kind to me.

Was Fr Albrecht an 'Aldi'?

Living in that priory in the 1970s was a Fr Brenninkmeyer, whose family owned C&A.

Also in the community was a Fr Germanus Lensker, who was a young Wehrmacht soldier with the medical corps, who was on the eastern front and saw service at Stalingrad.

Stepping out on the Dodder

Life on the Dodder early this morning.

Bishop Daly was vindicated

Diarmaid Ferriter writing in Saturday's The Irish Times on Bishop Edward Daly:

The young Bogside priest who did not want to 'rock the political boat' became a bishop at the centre of political storms. 

History will be kind to him, not just as the defender of his parishioners, but as one whose assertions about how to end the conflict were ultimately vindicated.

Ferriter recalls how Bishop Daly was surprised and disappointed at his first meeting at the Irish episcopal conference in 1974 how little interest other bishops showed in the crisis in Northern Ireland.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Remembering Fr William Barden OP in Rathgar

This year the Dominican Order is 800 years old.

To mark the occasion, people in Rathger parish are undertaking a small project.

It is planned to find out in what house Fr William Barden was born and then, with the permission of the owner and in conjunction with Dublin City Council, to erect a simple plaque to honour the man.

Fr William was an Irish Dominican, born in 1908, grew up in Rathgar and attended CBS Synge Street. He was Archbishop of Isfahan in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Nothing safe about faith

What to say on today's Gospel reading? offers some interesting ideas.

This line is from the site:

Faith is not something one has, it is something one does. “I have come to bring fire on earth.” Is it just some ‘thing’ lying there safely, needing to be protected on all sides? No, it is energy, and it is not safe to have it around. If it makes you feel safe, it is not faith.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Berlin Wall

Fifty-five years ago today the Berlin Wall was built.

The authorities in the GDR, which was the SED, claimed they were building the Wall to protect the citizens of the GDR from western capitalism.

The management class, who organised the building of the Berlin Wall are all dead.

Both West Berlin and East Berlin have changed beyond recognition.

The GDR government called it 'Berlin, Capital City of the GDR and they called the other side of the city Berlinwest.

Many in West Berlin called the other side of the Wall 'Die Ostzone', 'The eastern zone'.

It was all a funny old game, like all games. But a dangerous game too.

German Railways were not allowed use modern trains in transit to and from Berlin. No German Railway locomotives were allowed on GDR territory and all trains to and from Berlin West were powered by Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) locos, many of them steam engines.

The Russians were opposed to the  Reichsbahn developing electric locomotives and it was only in the last years of the GDR that the Reichsbahn successfully built an electric loco. That locomotive is now extensively used across the German Rail network, particularly in and around Düsseldorf. It is generally acclaimed as a great workhorse and many drivers will say it was away ahead of its time. It was built in Henningsdorf near Berlin. Today Henningsdorf is in the State of Brandenburg.

It is ironic that the GDR continued to call their railway the Reichsbahn - Kingdom Railways. The authorities' line was that the GDR was the 'real Germany' so it made sense to call the railway 'Reichsbahn'. West Germany called its railway 'Deutsche Bundsebahn' DB. Today it is called Deutsche Bahn, still using the initials DB.

Until the fall of the Berlin Wall double-decker trains were operated exclusively by East German Railways. They are now in use right across the German rail network. It is one of the few things that the West took from the East. That and the little green man at traffic lights and the practice of turning right on red are all that's left of the GDR.

The million dollar question: who owns DB?

Lufthansa was not allowed fly to Berlin or in the airspace of the GDR.

Hungarian wine was great value in East Berlin and West Berlin offered an 'alternative scene' for young Germans who were tired of West Germany's brand of western capitalism.

West Berlin was a fun place to live.

Wisecracking brothers

Nice piece in today's Irish Times by Liam Gorman on the O'Donovan brothers, Paul and Garry, POD and GOD. But the two of them make it so easy.

Observing an animal

It is so wonderful to watch an animal, because an animal has no opinion about itself.

It is.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A 'religious' site that might need to bite the dust

This has been the masthead on the Dominican website now for many months, maybe even a year or longer.

Heading for a swim in this attire? Does such a picture represent some sort of reality? Anything at all to do with reality? Something to do with God?

What exactly is a 'webite'? Some sort of religious terminology, maybe an ancient liturgical garment?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

David Quinn comments on those of a 'liberal persuasion'

It's always the little things that give us away.

In the current issue of The Irish Catholic David Quinn writes about difficulties in the Catholic Church with reference to the ongoing Maynooth controversy.

The piece reads nasty. In one place in the article he writes: "Fr Radcliffe is well liked by Catholics of a liberal persuasion...."

A clear put-down for that ilk who are of a 'liberal persuasion'.

It's also worth noting that when citing 'right living' standards his examples are in the sexual area.

Not at all a helpful piece of writing. Superficial too.


The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- Mahatma Ghandi.

The quote appears in 'Today's Good News'.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Clever city bins

New waste bins are appearing all over Dublin and in other cities, including Limerick.

The bins compact the rubbish and have the facility of sending a signal back to a depot giving information as to how full it is.

When full, the authorities can then dispatch a truck to empty it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The genius of Lionel Messi

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column

Michael Commane
It was the bleached hair that confused me, especially since I was so far away from him.

I have now seen the genius with my own eyes, spending 45 minutes observing every move he made and it was simply fascinating to behold.

I know nothing about soccer. I watch the occasional game. During the Euros I watched the Irish and German games and enjoyed the experience.

Some weeks ago a friend offered me a ticket to the Barcelona Celtic game at the Aviva Stadium. 

A few days before the game a cousin assured me that it would be a third team Barcelona squad that would be playing. So to my surprise from way up in the Aviva stand, to be precise, Row U Seat 28, I spotted the number 10 shirt. The hair had changed colour but I quickly realised that Lionel Messi was out on the park.

Everything about the man seems to be drenched in genius. Maybe at times he wandered about as if he were bored. Every time he had the ball he did something magical with it and he made one of the Barcelona goals. His timing, his speed, his reading of the game was breathtaking. It all seemed to be done in such a casual manner. Anytime I have seen Usain Bolt run he reminds me of someone out for a stroll. He does it all with such ease. The same with Messi. 

Geniuses turn up in all sports, all disciplines. Great writers and musicians give us a hint of their genius and anytime we come across it we are bowled over by its brilliance.

If Einstein did say that greatness is one per cent genius and 99 per cent hard work, dare I disagree with him. Maybe he was being humble about his own genius. No doubt even the greatest of geniuses have to work on their ability.

Even Messi has to train and hone his talent but once that talent is let loose it is simply magnificent to see it.

Geniuses stand out from the rest of us and it's simply great to see them in action.

Watching Messi last Saturday week it dawned on me, maybe for the first time, why people get so excited about sport, especially young people. A young person who plays a lot of football and is good at it, watching Messi must somewhere in his head be saying to himself that maybe some day he could be as good as the Barcelona striker. I know a five-year-old girl who scored her first goal last month. 

She's still talking to her mother about it. Good for her. Or the young 12-year-old who was off last week playing soccer for Kerry in Galway. He has his sights on the future. Maybe some day on the Kerry team playing in an All-Ireland in Croke Park.

Don't we all dream of being great at something or other, whether it's that unwritten book we plan or the music we aspire to play? 

At the Democratic convention in Philadelphia President Barack Obama spoke of the audacity of hope. 

When hope dies in us we are the poorer for it. For most of us our sights will never be in the Messi range but that does not mean we cannot aspire to achieving our own personal goals. 

They can be as small as a short walk every day. Making a decision to drink less alcohol, eat less chocolate. 

Whatever it is, it's important to have goals to which we can strive. It's good for us and might even make the world a better place.

Monday, August 8, 2016

'Eddie Daly' RIP

Politician and journalist Eamonn McCann paid tribute to the late Bishop Edward Daly on RTE Radio this morning.

He commented how the man was generally known as 'Eddie Daly', "that's just what people called him", he said.

It's always the little things that give the telltale signs.

No name changing with episcopal appointment for this bishop.

Remembering William Barden on St Dominic's day

Today is the feast of St Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order. This is the 800th anniversary of the order.

Fr William Barden, an Irish Dominican, who spent many years living in Iran, grew up in Rathgar and went to Synge Street CBS.

His contemplative approach stood him in good stead when, in 1962, he was sent as leader of a small group of Irish Dominicans to found a new house in Tehran. Their task was to be a Christian presence within an Islamic environment and to minister to the pastoral needs of expatriate Catholics in the country.

In 1974 he was ordained Archbishop of Isphahan of the Latins.

It is said of Fr William that most days he spent time sitting quietly in prayer in the local mosque.

In these troubled times wouldn't it be a thoughtful gesture to recognise the work that Fr William did in fostering Christian Islam dialogue.

What about finding out the house of his birth and in conjunciton with the current owners, placing a plaque on the wall to honour the man and his work? 

Fr William was born in 1908 and died in Dublin in 2004.

The Irish Dominicans still have a presence in Tehran. The priory, in the capital city is managed by Tralee man, Fr Paul Lawlor.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sir David Goodall RIP

Saturday's Irish Times carries an obituary of Sir David Goodall, who was a key figure in the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Breaking their rule, The Irish Times on this occasion gives a byline to the piece. It is written by former civil servant Michael Lillis.

Dominican 'press releases' are not fit for purpose

Tomorrow the Dominican Order celebrates the feast of St Dominic. This year the feast day  receives more emphasis as this is the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Order.

At present the Order is meeting in Bologna at what is called a General Chapter.

The meeting began on July 15 and as to what is happening at the meeting there has been little or no information.

One 'press release' has been issued. It spoke of the time breakfast was served and at what time Morning Prayer was recited.

It was simply a laughable report.

And now this. The link below appears on the international website of the Dominican Order.

Is this really the best the Dominican Order can offer?

This material is simply shocking and embarrassing too.

It includes a short video. Is it meant to be funny, what exactly is it about?  

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Poor design at Lidl

Lidl has introduced a new basket in its stores.

A bad design. It is deep, which means one has to delve deep down to the bottom of the basket to remove the items at the bottom. And if the basket is up on the counter at the check out it is particularly difficult.

The idea might be that shoppers will be inclined to fill the bigger basket. But it's a bad design.

What did Lidl do with the smaller blue basket?

Friday, August 5, 2016

It takes all types

Every group, society, organisation has all sorts of individuals. The good and the bad, the lazy and the incompetent, the schemer and the dodger.

Every orgnisation has those who are fully committed, those who are lacklustre and those who have lost all belief in the grouping.

Our attitude or feelings to the group to which we belong hangs by a thread. It can so easily depend on our personal experiences, how we have been treated. It can also depend on the sort of person we are.

Every grouping has its sycophants, detractors too and those who sell their souls to the institution. No grouping is free of fanatics.

Like every organisation, all those types of people live and survive within priesthood.

Why should anyone be surprised at the 'goings-on'? But maybe with priesthood there are some 'unusual rules and regulations' that makes it more prone to odd behaviour.

A wise Dominican, the late John O'Gorman, once said that, at least within the Dominicans, there should be a greater freedom and ease about people leaving the Order. He strongly believed that it would only be natural and inevitable that men would lose their faith, lose their enthusiasm and so there was little purpose in their remaining in the Order. He believed many people would be far happier and 'productive' by leaving and that the Order in turn would also be a better place.

But he was also concerned about how fanatics and incompetent people can have such a say in religious orders.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

All-male communities attract homosexual men

While the Maynooth 'hot topic' is being used as a tool to damage the college and the teaching that takes place there, there is of course a serious issue with the topic of homosexuality in priesthood.

It's nothing new. The church does not reckon in years or decades........

Paddy Agnew writes an interesting piece in today's Irish Times on the subject.

Below is the link to the article.

Alan Turing's Christopher

RTE 1 Television showed The Imitation Game last evening.

The film is about the life and work of Alan Turing, the mathematician, who helped break the German codes in World War ll and pioneered the development of computer technology.

It told the story of Alan's friendship with a little boy who was in his class in school. The boy, who had TB, died while on holidays and Alan was brokenhearted. The two of them were by far the best in the class at sums. Alan believed that the mind of his school friend lived on.

He named his code breaker/computer at Bletchley Park after his little friend, Christopher.

And then after the war, the story of his homosexuality and how he was treated in such a cruel fashion.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A brilliant Fr Brendan Hoban talks on Morning Ireland

Fr Brendan Hoban was simply excellent on Morning Ireland today.

Well worth listening to him. The interview takes place at approximately 08.15 and lasts close to five minutes.

His comments on the right-wing attacks on Maynooth hits the nail on the head.

Why is Brendan Hoban not a bishop in Ireland?

The most competent, articulate priest to appear on Irish radio in a long time.

A clever wise man, who speaks a real language.

Make sure to listen to him.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The screams of Trump

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column

Michael Commane
Up until last Wednesday if you did a Google search of the word 'father' first up was 'Father Ted'. That changed on Wednesday. On that day the search resulted in the name 'Fr Jacques Hamel' appearing on the screen. Fr Jacques, the 86-year-old priest who was brutally murdered by 'radicalised' young men.

A neighbour, who knew Fr Jacques said: "The man was a very good man, this man did his job to the very end. He was old but always available to everyone."

Shocking and words can't adequately describe the horror.

What's going on in the world?

Is it just because it is now in our backyard that we are getting worried. What's been going on for years across the middle east? How many people are dying daily in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan? We shrug our shoulders. 

The killings of young black men and the shooting dead of police officers in the United States have certainly attracted our attention.

In that mix there has been the arrival of Donald Trump. He shouts and roars. He promises to build a wall between the US and Mexico. He  has other plans too. Among them is to make America great again. Is America not great enough. Last week at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia Mrs Michelle Obama eloquently pointed out that America is great. She  went on to say that it's the greatest country on earth.

There seems to be an element or sense of violence surrounding Donald Trump. Maybe it's just an election gimmick to win the vote. Or is it more than that? Watching the Republican convention in Cleveland the previous week with all the screaming and roaring, maybe mass hysteria, one could easily think back to Hitler's Nürnberg rallies. Is that too harsh? I don't think so.

The management team at Mercedes said that Hitler was a clown but they also agreed that German industry would be able to control him if he became chancellor.

In France people who would never have considered voting for Marine Le Pen are now openly saying they will vote for her. In Germany the right wing AfD are a betting certainty to make big wins in German state and federal elections. They want to topple the 'political elite'. 

It seems that the 'political elite' is despised and once a politician says that they must be brought down a peg or two then they are sure to gain votes. Is that not part of the Brexit phenomenon?

It was difficult listening to Boris Johnson, Ian Duncan Smith and Michael Gove castigating the 'political elite'. Who are they?

The  'political elite' is a new war cry, a new sort of hash tag. One can blame 'them' for everything. And you can use whatever means you like to get rid of them. Is it some sort of populism gone mad? And all the time there seems to be an underlying violence lurking there or thereabouts. It's scary.

Presenters on US right-wing radio stations are ratcheting up the level of hatred against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Wasn't it at the Republican convention that the crowd was heard screaming 'Lock her up, lock her up.' The 'her' was Hillary Clinton.

What effect does that sort of language have on young men and women, especially those with unsound minds? Is that not a form of 'radicalising'? The difference this time is that those doing the roaring and screaming are on 'our side'.

Two wrongs don't make a right. Revenge never works. We need leaders with a calm touch, wise women and men, who will serve the people who elect them.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lionel Messi at Aviva

Out there somewhere is Lionel Messi.

Was at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday and saw Lionel Messi play.

Know nothing about football but one does not need to know anything about the game to realise the man is a genius. And what a sensation to see him play.

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