Friday, September 30, 2016

Retrieving dumped food

A young woman studying in Dublin and active with an environmental group in Rathgar Parish is working on retrieving food which is in the porcess of being dumped.

This is an evening's work.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Garda faces

General Secretary of the Garda Representative Association Pat Ennis surrounded by members at the announcement yesterday in Tullamore of their planned action for November.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Food waste in Ireland

Ireland wastes one million tonnes of food every year.

Smokes but no drink or sex

Overheard on a building site this morning.

A visitor on the site comments to a security man, who is smoking, that cigarettes are not a good idea.

The man replies: "No drink, no sex, the smokes are all I have."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

'Catholic Church has been in denial on environment'

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Some months back a group of people in the Three Patrons' Parish in Dublin's Rathgar came together to form an environment group. The majority of the group lives within the parish and then there is Deirdre. She is a young dynamic Waterford woman who is a doctoral student at Trinity. She's in her late 20s and nothing or no one is going to distract her in her mission to make this planet a cleaner and better place. She is irrepressible.

The group has a busy programme outlined for the months ahead. To kick off the  schedule, renowned eco theologian Sean McDonagh came to the parish last Monday and spoke on the environment. The hall was packed to capacity. It was a great mix, young and not-so-young, women and men. Another sign of how people are interested in theology/religion/environment. When they know the topic is going to make sense to them they are only too delighted to turn up.

Sean McDonagh is a Columban priest who has spent his working life concerned with issues on the environment.

He told us that it was by accident that it happened. He had been teaching in a Muslim area of the Philippines in 1978 when a young student brought him to a tribal area and there for the first time he saw with his own eyes what was happening in the hills and forests. "It was there I saw the real link between the well-being of people and the environment," he says

He came to Rathgar to talk on the environment but with special reference to Pope Francis' encyclical LAUDATO SI'. He has no hesitation in saying that it is the most important papal document of the 20th and 21st centuries.

"The Catholic Church has been in denial. The environment is not a Catholic thing. 

There are no Catholic lakes or Muslim forests," he stresses. He points out how tropical forests in the Philippines have been destroyed.

Right through his talk he dips in and out of the encyclical. His first reference is to Number 21 where the pope says:  "The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth."

Sean points out how it was never taught that it was wrong to devastate the forests and drain the marshes.

"In my 50 years of priesthood I never once heard anyone confess that they had sinned against the environment," he says.

Fr McDonagh sees how the church overemphasised the supernatural against the natural. He cites how the Black Death was seen as a punishment from God. It was a matter of not engaging with the world - withdrawal from the world.

He quotes from a Post Communion prayer in the Missal of Pius V which goes: "Lord teach us to despise the things of the earth and to love the things of heaven."

For McDonagh this type of theology is opposed to everything to do with the God of creation. He believes the church is badly in need of new forms of worship, which will involve thanking God for the life around us.

He wants to know what Ireland is doing about its meat production. "Agriculture is responsible for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas in the country," he tells the packed hall.

McDonagh quotes Pope Francis: "Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. "

Certainly people were challenged by Sean McDonagh's talk. Isn't that what the Gospel is meant to be about? Challenging us.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pope Francis nervous about bishops and rigid priests

An article by Robert Mickens on Pope Francis on the appointment of bishops and a warning about men heading for priesthood.

A great read. It's clear this man knows what's going on on the ground.

"The people 'scent' -- the People of God have God's 'scent' -- the people can 'scent' and they withdraw when they recognise narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades," the pope warned the so-called "baby bishops," who were in Rome for a training seminar.

"Don't allow yourselves to be tempted by numbers and quantity of vocations, but rather look for the quality of discipleship. … And be careful when a seminarian seeks refuge in rigidity -- because underneath this there's always something bad," Pope Francis

An initiative is always new

Why are so many writing and talking about a new initiative?

An initiative is always new. Now we seldom see the noun wihtout the adjective new beside it.

Why has this happened?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The state of Bus Éireann

Much publicity  has been given to Bus Éireann's plans for its loss-making Expressway inter-regional services.

How often in the last number of years has the company re-vamped its Expressway services?

If the Expressway services are losing money what's the financial health of the other arms of the company?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Moyross priest casts a cold eye on those who do nothing

Story in today's 'The Irish Times' about Moyross priest who says rich and powerful 'stand by and do nothing' about deprivation.

Cork-born Fr Tony O'Riordan talks about tomorrow's Gospel. "The rich man didn't do anything to Lazarus, and he wasn't the cause of Lazarus's pain, but he didn't respond to his pain.

The Irish Dominicans have closed shop in Limerick and handed the priory over to Dominican Nashville Sisters.

The Irish Dominicans first went to Limerick in 1227.

Biden on Trump

The Clinton Trump debate on Monday evening is expected to be one of the most watched events in television history.

US Vice-President Biden on the November election in the Unted States:

“Don’t compare Hillary to the Almighty. Compare her to the alternative.” And the alternative is President Trump.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pope Francis calls for peace

Once again, gathered here together, we declare that whoever uses religion to foment violence contradicts religion's deepest and truest inspiration.

Pope Francis speaking in Assisi on Wednesday at the 30th  anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Davy Fitz's thoughtful decision to step aside

Legendary Clare hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald has decided to step down as boss of the senior Clare team.

In the light of the .... divided opinions expressed by players, I have decided that it would be in the best interests of Clare hurling that I step down from the role of manager.

Interesting. Thoughtful and insightful too. 

Helping others

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I've no idea.

- W H Auden

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Taxing issues

The Irish Tax Institute's report, 'Perspectives on Ireland's Personal Tax System - A Medium to Long Term Approach', offers some interesting analysis. For example, at the lower end, a worker on €25,000 earns 1.4 times the salary of a person on €18,000 but pays 5.6 times the tax.

People €55,000 pay more tax than in Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and the US and over €800 more than in the UK. Meanwhile, a worker on €75,000 earns three times the amount of a person on €25,000 but pays almost eight times the amount of tax.

The impact of high taxes can already be seen in the squeezed middle but differences really accelerate at higher income levels, with the capping of recent tax reductions at salaries of €70,044 having an impact.

A worker on €100,000 earns 5.6 times the amount of a person on €18,000 and pays almost 66 times the amount of tax. If you compare them with the person on €25,000, they earn four times the salary but pay over 11.7 times the amount of tax. And at €100,000, Ireland remains at the upper end of the global rankings, ahead of taxpayers in France, Spain and the UK, amongst others.

A worker on €120,000 earns 6.7 times the amount of a person on €18,000 and pays over 83 times the amount of tax.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

St Luke's Hospital Rathgar

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Earlier this month I started a new job, chaplain in St Luke's Hospital in Dublin.

It was with trepidation and nervousness that I arrived the first day at the hospital. I had no idea what to expect.

Three weeks into the job I cannot believe the welcome I have received. The routine has been: "Hello, I'm the new chaplain here, my name is Michael Commane and this is all new for me."

On every single occasion I have received the warmest and most gracious of welcomes, which has always included the sentiment of hoping that I will be happy in the job and how important it is to have a chaplain in the hospital. I have been genuinely impressed.

It might well be an oxymoron to talk about a hospital as a great place. Hospitals of their nature are for sick people. But St Luke's in Dublin's Rathgar is a haven for the sick. It must be the cleanest hospital I have ever set foot in in Ireland. It has fabulous grounds, which include a small pitch and putt area. I'm told there is a billiard table somewhere in a basement but haven't seen it yet. The prints on the walls greatly add to the general ambience.

I'm slowly feeling my way into the job, getting to know  people, empathising with them, showing them kindness, and above all listening to them. It is also important to lighten the situation whenever possible, to be positive and maybe even have a bit of craic or humour. It all helps. Smile with them. Ireland is a small place and already I have met people who know people I know.

There are no answers when one is confronted with pain and suffering. In the three weeks that I have been in the job I have been struck by the fortitude of people: those who are sick and their families and close friends.

Talking and listening to people who are sick and in pain and worried about their illness pushes you out beyond your everyday reality. It certainly makes you look at the the world, reality, your own stumbling and fumbling, in a different context.

To watch the staff in the hospital do their work is inspiring. Their knowledge, their skills, their kindness is impressive.

Everyone in the building playing her/his role in doing all they can to make people healthy and well again.

Visiting a patient in a day ward last week it suddenly dawned on me that my father had a growth removed from his face in St Luke's. I remember as a child going up to the hospital with him. He was probably in his mid-40s at the time.

From what I can remember, St Luke's kept in touch with him right into his old age. He was swimming in the Atlantic at 92 and was 95 when he died. 

And my mother, before having a laryngectomy in the former Sir Patrick Dun's  Hospital, also had a course of treatment in St Luke's, which proved successful.

The link with my parents gives me a special tie to the hospital.

The fortitude of people, the kindness too. And then to watch the staff doing their work is for me a lesson in what it means to be human.

Every patient and family member with whom I have spoken speaks highly of the hospital.

And guess what, the food too is good. Always a bonus.

St Luke's Radiation Oncology Network operates from three Dublin locations – St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar and St Luke’s Radiation Oncology units in St James’s and Beaumont hospitals.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Priest, who never hears from provincial, stays in Drogheda

Dominican priest Jim Donleavy featured on RTE I's 'Drivetime' today. The piece was at approximately 18.18.

Fr Donleavy was interviewed by John Murray, who as a young boy was an altar server in St Mary's Dominican Priory, Tallaght.

Jim spoke about how he intends staying in the Dominican Priory in Drogheda in spite of the decision of the Irish Dominicans to leave the town.

He quipped that he expects to be removed from the priory in a coffin and has already been in touch with the local undertaker.

The 79-year-old Dominican, when asked if there had been any communication with his 'superiors', said that the provincial of the Irish Dominicans had not replied to any of his letters during the last two years.

Fifty years since O'Malley announced free education

Fifty years ago this month Donogh O'Malley announced his free education scheme.

He introduced his plan without having brought it to Cabinet. There is controversy whether or not Sean Lemass was aware of his plan.

The September 1966 decision on free secondary education changed the face of Ireland. It's fitting to mention it today in the context of the day's Gospel reading.

Is it right and proper that the Catholic Church should run fee-paying schools?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

CDU lose in Berlin

Early results at 7pm in Berlin.

SPD (22.9 per cent) and CDU (18 per cent) lose seats in Berlin Parliament. The FDP make significant gains ((6.4 per cent) and are back in parliament.

It's the worst result the CDU have ever had in Berlin.

Die Linke (Left Party) increase their vote (16.2 per cent) and the Green Party win (16.7 per cent)

The AdF win over 12 per cent of the vote.

German law requires that a party has to win at least five per cent of the vote to enter parliament.

The SPD will continue to be the largest party and Michael Müller will be the new Mayor of Berlin.

Berlin is a city state, more or less similar to a federal state.

All figures are provisional.

Georg Bätzig is the new bishop of Limburg. He will not be living in the infamous palace. He was not secretly appointed by a papal nuncio. The Germans don't allow such a procedure.

Far-right gains in Berlin today reminder of Nazis

Elections in Berlin today. The far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) is expected to make sensational gains. 

SPD mayor of Berlin Michael Müller has said significant gains for AfD is a real threat to Germany and a worrying drift back to Nazi times.

German MEP and satirist calls for Irish EU exit

Below is a link to what satirist and German MEP Martin Sonnenborn said in the European Parliament. He calls for the expulsion of Ireland from the EU.

President Martin Schulz enjoys the fun.

It is short and part of it is in Englsih. Worth watching.         

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Serving two masters

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

Michael Commane
At the beginning of this month the G20 met for the first time in China. The G20 is a forum for governments and governors of the central banks of the 20 most powerful countries on earth. Holding it this year in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou was a significant moment for the host country.

The Chinese put on a spectacular display for the visiting dignitaries.

But what piqued the interest of the western media was how US President Barack Obama exited Air Force One. Instead of a special stairs and red carpet to greet the president, he left the aircraft using the built-in staircase. When White House staffers objected to what happened a Chinese official was overheard shouting: "This is our country! This is our airport!"

Obama made little of it: "I wouldn't over-crank the significance of it."

Many newspaper columns were given over to how the Chinese treated other guests at the forum. It was said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping seemed to give more time to Angela Merkel than he did to Theresa May. And so on.

When it came to reporting on the summit, newspaper headlines, TV and radio had more time for to the stairs incident than for  what some of  the most powerful men and women on earth were discussing. 

Yet item number four of the final communiqué reads: "We believe that closer partnership and joint action by G20 members will boost confidence in, foster driving forces for and intensify cooperation on global economic growth, contributing to shared prosperity and better well-being of the world."

Anyone who reads tomorrow's Gospel might well be able to link the sentiments expressed in the G20 communiqué with what Jesus is hinting at.

Tomorrow's Gospel (Lk 16: 1 - 13) tells us that "you cannot give yourself both to God and to money".

Take both together and we have a simple reminder to get our priorities right.

Could it be that our focus has always to be on God and it's important that we never allow anything else to distract us in our search for God? It's so easy to be distracted.

Luke tells us that a servant cannot serve two masters. "Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt." 

Putting our focus on God’s message surely means looking out for other people, placing people and the concerns and needs of people at the top of our agenda, making sure that people are well cared for. Christianity means looking out for the other person.

The hullaballoo at the G20 meeting in Hangzhou tells a great tale of how we all lose sight of what's important and not important. The G20 forum gives the top leaders of the world a chance to talk about how to make our planet a better place for all its citizens. And what do we end up doing? Spending time discussing how President Obama exited his plane. 

But it's the way of the world. It's the sort of thing so many of us waste our time and energy on. Instead we should be focused on making the world a better place so that everyone of its seven billion people can reach the potential to which they have been called. Each of us has been made in the image and likeness of God.

The week after the G20 summit in China, RTE Television broadcast a programme on Jesuit priest Peter McVerry and the work he does in Dublin's inner city. It was a great example on how we can give ourselves to God – always in the context of caring for people, especially those most in need. McVerry and his team are living out the words of tomorrow's Gospel.

PS What were the guiding principles that influenced the Irish Government to appeal the  EU Apple tax ruling?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dominican says: "Gardaí will have to drag me out"

Front page of this week's 'Drogheda Independent'.

Any Dominican priories opening their doors on Culture Night?

Pepper sprays for ticket checkers on German trains

German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) is planning to issue pepper sprays and alarms to rail personnel. This is because of the increase in attacks on ticket checkers and their colleagues.

In the first six months of this year more than 1,100 rail staff were attacked, up 28 per cent on the same period last year.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics

The lead story in this week's 'The Irish Catholic' concerns divorced/remarried Catholics receiving Communion.

The piece says remarried/divorced people may receive Communion "under certain limited circumstances after they discuss the matter with their priest".

"Even then the couple most likely will have to receive Communion in private so as not to cause conflict or confusion among the rest of the congregation."

But isn't it so counter-cultural. What if the priest has his 'own ideas' as many indeed have? What if he is odd, as many are?

And receiving Communion 'in private'. Hints of of so much that has  caused Christians such pain. Also, patronising.

'Communion in private' - an oxymoron?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Travel Pass passenger

Overheard at Heuston Station booking office.

"Is there first class on the 9am train to Cork?" The man is told there is. He then asks if he can travel first class with his Travel Pass. When he is told he can't, he asks how much extra it is to travel first class. When he is told the fare, he decides against.

A tall well-dressed man, who skips the queue to get to the booking office.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A train journey of alcohol fumes and great Tipp fun

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column

Michael Commane

On the Monday after the All-Ireland hurling final I travelled by rail from Dublin to Banteer.

I consider myself something of a train anorak so was expecting the 11.00 Heuston Cork service to be a quiet train. Make my way up to the front coach at 10.50. Amazed. What is normally  the 'semi-empty' coach was crowded. I was taken aback. What was this about? 

There were still two free seats together, where I parked myself. Window seat. Within a minute a young woman is sitting down beside me. Of course it's selfish to expect to have two seats to yourself but it's a nicer way to travel.

Just as she sat down beside me the smell of drink hit me. Is there anything worse than that smell of stale drink?

Sitting on the train I felt one could get drunk on the fumes and there was enough alcohol to fuel the locomotive.

The train was filled to capacity with Tipperary supporters heading home after a weekend of revellery.

I thought I was going to be on a nice quiet train. Anything but.

The young woman beside me, decked out with her phone, purse and bottled water had less than four hours sleep but would be back at work in the early afternoon. That's what young people do.

We joked about the 'evils of drink' She assured me that she would not be in Semple Stadium or anywhere near Thulres later that day for the homecoming of the victorious hurlers. "I can't wait till 6pm when I finish work and head straight home to bed," she smiled.

Her two friends, also on the train with her, are heading back to college. Tuesday was their first day back so they were planning to go to the celebrations in Thurles later that day. But there would be no drink as both of them had lectures at 09.00 on the Tuesday.

The four men sitting in front of us seemed to have been experts on hurling. I could overhear them referring to on of Sunday's players as a 'donkey' and then all praise for someone else. I wonder who the 'donkey' was?

"My young lad plays for the under-12s in XXXXX," I could hear one of them say. The same man agreed that he was in a 'terrible condition'. I'm not too sure when he was afflicted with such a 'condition'. But all four of them had nothing but praise for the Tipperary manager, Michael Ryan.

By the time the train reached Templemore my passenger companion had changed her mind. Yes, she would go to Thurles later that day but promised me she would not be drinking.

On Saturday night she and her friend  hailed a rickshaw. It was only to cost €4 but they got lost, mis-read their Google maps and ended up paying €20 each. So the rick-shaw man ended up with €40 in his pocket.

And just as the train pulled out of Thurles my friend was thinking she might call in sick.

It was a 'different' sort of train journey. But it was great fun. And what really struck me was the innate good nature of the people sitting near me. They were all good fun, nice people. Behind all the codology there was a lovely innocence about them. No big ideas about changing the world or high-faluten words about anyting.

But I was also conscious of the presence of God on that train.

Just as the train neared Limerick Junction my train companion had definitively decided she'd be back at work in the afternoon.

That's dedication. Great fun too.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The little green man

Thirty one per cent of Irish adults aged between 65 and 74 and 31 per cent of adults over 75 do not have enough time to cross the road in the time provided by the pedestrian light signal.

So says a report from the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA).

But how long does the little man stay green?

Ever time how long it takes you to cross?

One of the few aspects of life from the former GDR that survives and has indeed been exported to the western part of Germany is their little green man pedestrian light. He wears a hat. Much nicer than the one used in the west.

And did the GDR have a female version of this?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

FTSE 100 bosses paid obscene salaries

Britain’s top executives are now paid approximately 130 times their average employee, according to analysis released yesterday by the High Pay Centre think-tank.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Conor Lally in today's Irish Times writes on how the media reported on the murder of Clodagh Hawe and her three children, Liam, Niall and Ryan by Alan Hawe.

The paragraph below is from the piece.

In an industry driven by images and focused on men and women who perpetrate violence rather than their victims, the coverage of this case flowed exactly – and depressingly – as it always does; perpetrator-centred rather than victim centred.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The mystery of leadership

What are the qualities that make a person a 'leader'? What does it mean to be a 'leader'?

What proportion of people make it to 'leadership positions' who genuinely have the talents or gifts to be in such positions?

What number of people end up in leadership jobs who simply do not have any of the 'skills' for the job?

Is there anything worse than failed leadership? Anything worse than mediocrity? Probably: fanaticism.

The 'silent people' who slink in the background and pull the strings, especially so, when leadership is weak.

Is it all the nonsense and pathetic jockeying for 'power' that has the church where it is today? It certainly has played a role.

And then all the sad people who follow failed leaderships.

Mandela was clearly a leader. So too was Helmut Schmidt.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

US presidential candidates skirmish and ambush

Great headline in today's Guardian:

Clinton skirmishes with history while Trump ambushes the facts

The piece includes the paragraph below:

Speaking before an audience of veterans, Trump unexpectedly attacked the current generation of generals and flag officers. The current senior officer corps has been “reduced to rubble”, Trump said, and were “embarrassing for our country”. While previously Trump had said he knew better than the generals about fighting Islamic State, this time he intimated that he’d get “different generals” – a habit more typical of caudillos than American presidents."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

RTE highlights the work of Jesuit Peter McVerry

Last evening RTE One television screened at 22.15 a progamme on Jesuit priest Peter McVerry.

During the programme a number of his first clients were interviewed. They stressed the kindness of the man and how he never once called the Garda when they were misbehaving.

A gifted man, who comes from a privileged background and there he is dressed in a jumper and shirt, living with the people with whom he works.

Watching the programme one was forced to call to mind the line in Shakespeare's Hamlet, ... the apparel oft proclaims the man.

No roman collar, no immaculate black suit, perfectly tailored, none of the nonsense that has today become popular with a section of clergy.

Priesthood, if anything, is about kindness, friendhsip and all done in dialogue. And that's what the programme last evening told us about Peter McVerry SJ.

Well worth watching on RTE Player if you have not already seen it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Back to school opportunities

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane

Last week the first school uniforms began to appear on our footpaths. For that first day or so they were a novelty. And now it's back to normal and the young people are heading to and from school as if there had been no long holidays.

For the first-timers it was and probably still is all excitement but for the regulars, one is reminded of the lines from the seven stages of man in Shakespeare's 'As You Like it': "Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel/And shining morning face, creeping like snail/Unwillingly to school."

It's that time of year when many people think about learning something new, going back to school to pick up new skills. These days there is a myriad institutions and centres of learning offering so many enjoyable possibilities. There's hardly a subject or skill that is not on offer. 

Modern technology has given us the possibility of learning so much from our own homes. 

Computer technology has landed learning possibilities on our doorstep. But I can imagine the same computer must be the bane of so many doctor with patients calling to their GPs and telling them what's wrong with them. Everything has its drawbacks.

Learning is a lifelong process. Albert Einstein said that intellectual growth ends only at death. The more we learn the more we realise how little we know.

In early August I was asked by The Priory Institute in Tallaght to give them some help in advertising the courses they have on offer. They felt that with my background in journalism I could point them in the right direction.

I ended up writing small pieces for regional newspapers on the courses that the institute offers. In order to do that I contacted people who were either currently doing courses at The Priory Institute or had completed studies there.

Without exception every person with whom I spoke was genuinely delighted they had done the course.

I spoke to a large cross section of people, young and not-so-young. One man I phoned explained how studying theology had given him a great insight to his faith.

Someone else said about the course: "There are times when I lift my head from the books and think, 'Why when I was growing up, did no one ever tell me about this beautiful religion of ours' ".

A woman from west Kerry said: "Weary of the shallows? Take the plunge and discover the treasure called theology."

There is so much talk, dispute, controversy, scraps and disagreements about issues concerning religion and faith in Ireland that I often wonder what exactly do we know about our religion or about faith in God. What do we know about worldwide religions and their history? I'm inclined to think very little.

Theology is an exciting discipline. It is about exploring the mystery of God and God's interaction with us. Christian theology focuses on Jesus, 2,000 years of history and scholarship. It looks at how we try to speak about God. 

Ireland was known as a 'Catholic country'. That is changing at breathtaking speed.

But the Ireland that is disappearing was never renowned for its theological expertise.

Has there been an overemphasis on pious aspects of our faith, bordering on superstition? 

The Priory Institute is affiliated to the Institute of Technology Tallaght and offers a wide range of courses, including degrees, diplomas and certificates.

What makes The Priory Institute special is that learning is done from home, interspersed with study days and tutorials with support from a dedicated coordinator.

For further information log on to; email,; phone 01 - 404 8124.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Two cities two events.

In Samarkand Islam Karimov was buried on Saturday.

The death of the Uzbekistan leader triggered an outpouring of grief.

"I still can't believe it happened, a 39-year-old man living in Tashkent said. He was one of thousands, who watched the funeral cortege on the street of Tashkent before the coffin was flown to Samarkand.

Karimov was president of Uzbekistan for a quarter of a century.

Men were in tears at the funeral.

In Rome, at the canonisation of Mother Teresa Pope Francis said:

She bowed down before those who were spent, who were left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-giiven dignity. She made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.

There were 100,000 people in St Peter's Square for the canonisation.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Big gains for far right AfD in former east German state

Far right AfD (Alternative for Germany) won a massive 24 per cent of the vote in state elections in the north eastern Mecklenburg Vorpommern today.

The two biggest parties, the SPD and CDU lost votes but the SPD is still the largest party in Mecklenburg Vorpommern.

The AfD pushed the CDU into third place.

France's Marine Le Pen has congratulated the AfD.

The unstoppable march of the far right in State and church.

Rows and records at airport

This year Dublin Airport is set to see 27 million passengers travel through the airport, which is a new record.

Ryanair is moving three per cent of its capacity at the airport, the equivalent of approximately 1,580 flights per year, to other European airports.

This is because of a row with the DAA but also because of Brexit.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Wilder on Radner

Gene Wilder, who died on Monday August 29, on Gilda Radner.

We didn't get along well, and that's a fact. We just loved each other, and that's a fact.

'Bless me, Father'

How many stories does a picture tell?

This picture on the front page of today's Irish Times gives a hint of so much of the nonsense and sillyness of priesthood.

It certainly tells an insightful story, indeed, it tells a thousand stories. A doctoral study in this picture.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friendship and kindness and always fostered in dialogue

The text below is the address given by Dominican priest Paul Lawlor at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on the occasion of the opening of the elective chapter of the Irish Dominican Province on Monday. Every four years Dominicans meet in general assembly to plan for the future and to elect a provinical. The meeting is called a chapter.

This is an excellent address and engages the reader in so many issues pertinent to the life of Christianity in the world today.

Highly recommended reading and great material for interesting discussion.

It is a privilege to publish the address on this blog.

Thank you Paul.

Paul Lawlor
At the beginning of this assembly and chapter we pray that our hearts and minds may truly discern God’s will.  We pray for His Spirit of compassion and courage as we work together in the coming days seeking to find ways to respond to the needs of those around us in a manner that is in accord with the life and mission of the Order.  We pray that we may - truly listen, carefully discern and courageously decide.

Coming back from Tehran one is struck by the many changes that have taken place around us in these past years.  It is true that there are things that make one very concerned about the future but it is also striking to see so much positive energy and generosity of spirit.

Something of the remarkable change which is taking place came home to me during a visit earlier this year.  I stood outside the door of Holy Cross Church in Tralee after the 12 o’clock Mass to meet some friends.  A group of people passed by and one of our collectors said to me “Refugees from Iraq.”  Surprised, I went over to say hello.  Smiling one of them said “Abuna (the Aramaic for “father”) we are Suryani.”  It was awesome.  Here were Christians of the ancient Assyrian/Chaldean Church from the area of Mosul in Iraq attending Mass at the Dominican Church in Tralee.

Dominicans have been ministering to this Christian community in Mosul since 1750.  Our sisters and brothers have done heroic work and have had an amazing impact across the region. The old liturgical books used by the Chaldean/Assyrian church in Tehran were printed by this Dominican community of Mosul. The present archbishop of Tehran, bishop Ramsi was educated in their school.

Today the Dominican church of Mosul is no more.  In April of this year the Daesh Islamic group destroyed what remained of the church and priory.  Not long before they had destroyed the great library of the house containing over a 100,000 books and manuscripts.  Most of the people are now scattered across the world and some of them had made their way to Tralee.  

The complex world of the Middle East is among us.  For so long we were barely aware of the region and the horrors that have taken place there in recent years.  Now this ancient Christian people and their Muslim country men and women have come among us.  Will they be recognised? Who will talk to them? Will they be welcomed?

Among the people coming out from the 12 o’clock Mass in Holy Cross that sunny Sunday there were also many young families. They seemed so bright and cheerful, with a blessed freedom from the formality that used to go with attending Sunday Mass in years gone by.  However, the majority of people emerging from the church were of an older generation.  The expression “the faithful” is so aptly applied to them.  An older generation who continue to come with fidelity to pray in our churches, to pray with us at Mass.

How can we in turn remain faithful to these friends who have shown such loyalty to the Lord and the Dominican Order over the years?  With our changing province we cannot maintain in all our churches the kind of presence and quality of care for which we were known and loved.

How to balance our present situation with the demands of fidelity and loyalty is a great challenge for us now.

There weren’t so many young people coming out from that 12 o’clock Mass.  Many no longer feel either the necessity or inclination to attend church on Sunday.  Yet meeting this generation in our families and among friends, one finds a great generosity of spirit, their kindness. 

The Lord is present in some new way among them.  A few weeks ago at the World Youth Day in Poland there was the great gathering of young people who attended Mass with Pope Francis.  He told them that he saw in them a conviction that it is possible to create something wonderful in our world of today.

Pope Francis affirmed their dream for a new humanity which overcomes barriers and hatred, a dream of a people who cherish their own traditions without being self-centered.  He recognised and encouraged their great enthusiasm, dedication and energy, a power which comes from their mercy and compassion.  He called on them to be open to the Lord, who shows them how to live the life for which their hearts are yearning.

There are reasons to be really concerned, we cannot be blind to the dangers that threaten but we also see the courage and vitality of the young, the great fidelity among the old and a new unexpected Christian presence among us.

We have to ask how the changes are influencing ourselves; how do we see ourselves and the work before us, what is real community apart from just living together,  how can superiors keep their humanity while exercising authority, how do we relate to each other and those around us.  So many questions! In the Assembly and Chapter our hearts also,  must be open to the presence of the Lord who shows us how to live the life for which our hearts are yearning as we look to the road that lies before us.   How are we to begin to find a way to continue our mission?

The Chapter is taking place during the Jubilee Year celebrating the confirmation of the Order 800 hundred years ago by Pope Honorius the Third.  It has been an opportunity to renew in our minds the memory of how St Dominic gathered a band of sisters and brothers who would combine the life of prayer with the apostolate of preaching and teaching.

He did so in order to answer an urgent need where he saw lives being wrecked through distorted beliefs. In imitation of Christ who with his band of sisters and brothers from the lake shore of Galilee had reached out to the ends of the earth with the Gospel of God’s mercy, Dominic’s sisters and brothers set out among the people of his own time with the same mission.

The origin of the Order was in the prayer of the community of woman who came together in Prouille in 1207.  The Order was approved in 1216. In 1217 Dominic sent the brothers out like the apostles of old. The adventure had begun. Brothers arrived in Ireland seven years after Dominic had sent out the first groups; 70 years later they were in Iran. The Third Order was formed in 1285.  “Contemplata aliis tradere,” “Veritas,” “Laudare, Benedicere, Predicare” are the watchwords which are ever repeated to evoke the spirit of St Dominic, our father.

Clearly our celebration of the Order’s 800 years is not an occasion for basking in glory.  We give thanks to the Lord for all the sisters and brothers; those of long ago who left us their captivating story and those of more recent times whose lives we ourselves have shared.   Just as we remember those whom we have known; stories about our brothers and sisters were always part of our living tradition.   

From the earliest days of the Order we have “The Lives of the Brethren.”  The prologue states “Our purpose is that future generations may know the dignity of their Order and may see how perfectly earlier brothers, our fathers, lived and stood for the truth."  Humbert of Romans wrote “take note of the great care divine providence has had for the Order.  With this in mind you will be more and more strengthened to love it.”  In the same way we remember the Dominicans we have known; all those characters who lived famous or hidden lives and inspired us by their great love, dedication and sacrifice.  

Each of us has our own memory and experience in the Order. I joined in 1968 and remember with such vividness people who for many today are unfamiliar names.  What an extraordinary band of brothers and sisters we knew.  Some of them indeed seemed giants.  

In spite of their greatness, they were people of their own time and now some of their decisions seem shortsighted. This is something which should be a check on any overconfidence on our part and prompt us to listen to the other voices; the voices of those who see things from a different angle. 

What do we make of the province that we have known?  “By its fruits you shall know them.”  Was it a good tree that produced good fruits? St Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in the letter to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Are these the qualities we remember?  I think we all remember days when we experienced something very far from such a spirit.  But really, in my memory, it is joy and kindness that stand out as the qualities that we met so often during our lives as members of the Irish Province.  A joy and kindness which was not a politically motivated politeness but rather an expression of the love which is the driving force of our lives.

On entering the Order we were asked “What do you seek?” We answered “The mercy of God and yours.”  Aware of our limitations we ask God’s compassion and we ask for the compassion of our brothers.  This is not something we do only at the beginning of our life in the Order but continues through all our days. “Forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us.”  When we forgive, whenever we feel compassion for those who suffer, when we care for those in need, we become more deeply aware of our own need for God’s compassion

As sisters and brothers of Dominic surely we must nurture a genuine respect and care, which avoids any contempt or hostility or cold indifference to the situation of a brother or sister.  We believe that we are united with the very life of God in our mercy. “Be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful.”  “Through mercy our sins are forgiven.”  “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”  The mission which has been entrusted to us is to extend God’s compassion and mercy which we have received, to others.

In sending his blessing to the recent General Chapter, Pope Francis reminds us that this year is also the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

St Dominic, he tells us was a tireless apostle of grace and forgiveness, compassionate towards the poor and an ardent defender of truth.  He urges us that we who are his followers must bear witness to this mercy, be signs of the nearness and tenderness of God so that people today might rediscover the urgent need for Solidarity, Love and Forgiveness.

In addition to remembering the traditions and people we knew in the Order, we also draw on our own journey, our own apostolate however modest.  In my own case, for a few years I did some work in the study of what is known as Christian Archaeology. An unusual field but it too offers its own insights.

The work brought me into contact with a world of people who normally have little connection with the Church. There were the workers, craftsmen and restorers, there were historians, architects, archeologists and government officials.  St Dominic sent his brothers into the universities, into the places of learning, reflection, debate. Minds searching for understanding are today not only within the world of university but, questioning, the search for authentic life, is all around us, calling on us to be engaged, to travel with them on the road as friends who care about them.

Studying early Christianity shows how the church became incarnate in different cultures.  In the West it developed in the world of late Roman civilisation. The church of the West became incarnate in the language, architecture, art, and the structures of that society.  But there is and always must be, a tension if the spirit of God’s kingdom is not to be confined by the ways and structures of the earthly kingdoms.  By the fourth century there were already problems of clerical power and privilege.  It is no coincidence that this was the period that saw the first flowering of monasticism which was described as the movement which “stamped eternity on the imagination of the West.”

In the later middle ages the humanistic dimension which was promoted by Dominicans saw theological abstractions brought down to the concrete and applied to the individual. It is a beautiful inheritance.  

But it is an inheritance which each generation must examine to see in what way it can communicate today the values of the kingdom preached by Jesus.  To do this we must be close to God and close to people, engaged in a continual process of renewal.  We are called to share a constant critical awareness of the culture in which we live our lives while we are engaged in our work of study, education, publishing, pastoral care, in caring for our people through the churches and communities of our Province.

Another lesson one learns from the world of archaeology is how careful one has to be in interpreting the evidence. How do we interpret what has been uncovered in excavation?  In archaeology we learn that we have an incredible capacity to fool ourselves into thinking that things are what we wish them to be.  Over and over again, the curved wall of a bathhouse was interpreted as the apse of a church and a bath was seen as a baptistery.  Very often it is non-believers who while they may have their own prejudices, confront our presuppositions and lead us to a deeper understanding of the situation before us.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” A “Way” and a “Life” are not static but like “Truth” speak of a journey made in trust.  We must surely learn to listen more, with respect, not just to our companions but also to those who see things differently.  We have indeed to beware of an arrogance of thinking that we have all the truth.

In the desire to be authentic and true, we continuously question our presuppositions and are on guard not to be trapped into the wisdom of this world which today is so conditioned by the ways of a managerial class which sacrifices people and values to the cause of respectability or some idea of economic pragmatism.

In Tehran, we face the challenges of dialogue with Islam. Here also there is an experience which is helpful. How is dialogue possible; not just dialogue with another religion but with the attitudes of a culture which is so different from our own familiar ways?  Friendship goes a long way.  Jesus showed us how to reach out in friendship and respect to those of different cultures and beliefs when he spoke as a friend with Samaritans, Roman military, tax collectors and sinners.  Dialogue involves respect that the other is in good faith, and a desire to understand and learn about each other’s beliefs.

This lesson in dialogue is of value when we come to face one of the challenges in the Province today.

We recognise that in some areas there are different ways of seeing the way forward among the brothers. It is not something new.  There were in the past deep divisions caused by different understandings about the true nature of the Dominican Vocation. There was the disagreement between groups called Conventuals and the Observants.

However through the tolerance shown by both groups, we avoided the divisions which occurred in other Orders. In the 19th century there were those who championed the rigorous reform in the Tallaght community against the life of “the Gentlemen of Denmark Street” who saw themselves in the tradition of those who ministered to an oppressed people in the penal days.

Rigidity in what constituted a Dominican vocation caused people to be hurt when they were treated as less than Dominican. This hurt often resulted in an abiding sense of low self-esteem and wounds that surfaced in other areas.   Surly we do not want this to happen again.

We recognise that at present there seem to be different emphases about how to be a Dominican but in the tradition of tolerance we are called to dialogue, to friendship and respect; never to be dismissive of the other.  We seek to balance our response to the needs we see around us while striving for a continuity in the way of life, to listen to each other in our desire to live the life inspired by our father St Dominic.

The opening lines of the rule of St Augustine tells us “the chief motivation for your sharing life together is to live harmoniously in the house and to have one heart and one soul seeking God.”  Gathering for the Assembly and Chapter we commit ourselves to live together in peace and friendship, with respect for the ideas and ways of others; committed to mercy, to work for the healing of each other and to the care of the people to whom we are sent.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

An initial glimpse of great charity in St Luke's Hospital

The writer of this blog has taken up a new post as chaplain at St Luke's Hospital in Dublin's Rathgar.

First impressions: the initial hospitality and kindness of the staff is breathtaking. They simply could not be kinder. A wonderful experience of graciousness and charity. A real example of God at work in people.

God is alive and well in people and for clerics or any ministers of religion to imply that we are living in 'bad times' is an awful interpretation of reality.

Le Pen supports Trump

Leader of France's National Front Party Marine Le Pen in an interview with CNN has again come out in support of Donald Trump.

"It's in France's interest that anyone but Hillary Clinton be elected US President," she said.

She went on to say that Hillary Clinton would bring war and destruction and that neither she nor Trump is a political insider.