Wednesday, November 23, 2016

There is always someone who knows your family

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Are you ever surprised or amazed how you go somewhere and more than likely you will meet someone you know or you will meet someone who will know someone you know. There is always some sort of connection back to you.

Since taking up my job as chaplain in St Luke's Hospital in Dublin I am constantly meeting people with whom I have some sort of link.

Some weeks ago I got chatting with a man, who told me he was living in Thurles. My mother is from that part of the world. It transpires that his family were next door farmers to my granduncle, a place where I spent all my childhood summer holidays. Those summer days were idyllic.

This man knew a lot about my mother's people.
He recalled a story he heard about my grandfather, Paddy Hickey, who had a liking for alcohol. 

The parish priest in Galmoy once asked my grandfather if he had paid his Easter dues. Paddy replied by enquiring if the pp had asked his brother (my granduncle), who had a 200-acre farm, the same question. The pp admitted he had not asked him and Paddy quickly retorted that obviously the sins of big men don't count.

It was a brilliant reply and maybe gives an insight into my own behaviour towards clerics.

Hearing a story like that in Dublin, which probably happened in the 1940s, is another example of how small the country is.

On Saturday, November 12, I was at a conferring ceremony at the Priory Institute in Tallaght.

The Priory Institute, in conjunction with the Institute of Technology Tallaght offers degree, certificate and diploma courses in theology by means of distance learning. At the beginning of this academic year I did some PR work for them and as a thank you they invited me to the graduation ceremony. 

And a free meal to boot, which is always an added attraction.
During the ceremony I spotted a woman receiving her parchment for obtaining an honours BA in theology. It turns out I worked with her for over 10 years in Concern Worldwide.

In August when I was doing the PR work for the Priory Institute I was introduced to one of the staff. One thing led to another and then we discovered that her father served his time under my father and not only that but as a child I had heard my father so often mention her father's name. Later in life my father worked with her brother.

And then last week in hospital I met a man who works with her brother.

It's like a web that never stops unfolding. There's always someone who knows someone who knows someone you know. 

It really is intriguing.

At the conferring ceremony the President of the Institute of Technology Tallaght, Dr Thomas Stone, spoke of the great link there is between the Priory Institute and the ITT.

He stressed  the importance of studying the humanities and theology. He quoted Aristotle: "It is the mark of the educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it".
Dr Stone pointed out that 46 per cent of ITT students are studying the humanities and social sciences.

There are 5,106 registered students at the Tallaght IT, 92 per cent of them coming from South Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.

I was wondering, as Dr Stone spoke, how many students at the ITT know someone I know?

Ireland is a small place and one of its charms is that you'll always find someone who knows someone who knows someone.

Ireland has been 'networking' long before it became 'cool'.

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