03Feb The Feast of Rabbie Burns – An opportunity to have a go at everyone!

The Feast of Rabbie Burns – An opportunity to have a go at everyone!

Auld Lang Syne.

‘Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind.’ She left us. She abandoned us. She cried. She laughed. She argued. She resisted. She gave in. Our feisty, funny, famous, favourite woman left us. She emigrated to Caherdavin in Limerick. Did she want to go? No. Did she threaten her Provincial Kathleen, with death? She did. Did she try kissing me to catch the flu and cause a delay in her going? She did. Did she have to go? She did. Our lovely Madeleine is gone. She is only 85. She was here in our Parish Community for the past 18 years. She knew everyone. She was known to everyone. She talked with everyone. She knew the greatest thugs and the dearest child. She was at home everywhere. She was deeply loved. Her presence in the school (where she was the centre of fun and laughter), in the homes and in the wider Community, was inspirational.

Madeleine is a Salesian Sister who charmed everyone from parishioner to neighbour; from child to every teacher; from doctor to every nurse in the hospital. She is a total extravert and our Prima Donna (in the best sense). There is a space left here that no-one can fill. The gift of this woman. The gift of a Religious Sister. The gift of Godliness. A whole history is gone and she will never be replaced. No one could. She was and is a beautiful woman. The Church is dying. That world of the past is disappearing. The loss is huge. There are no more Madeleines. We are bereft. The characters and saints of our Parish leave us and the colour drains out of our lives.

A volcano of faith:

I went to Glasgow for Tommy’s funeral in King’s Park. Tommy and Eileen were part of my distant past in Marriage and Engaged Encounter. Tommy was tired and was ready to go. Peter (the priest) had been attacked the night before but he carried the funeral ever so well. He couldn’t have done otherwise. The family read and prayed. The utter conviction of faith in all that they did, was awesome. Gavin was there. Gavin has MND. (Read Ruth Fitzmaurice for a glimpse of what MND means). His frozen body can do nothing. His eyes talk and write through his electronic machine. His mouth is open. His carers and his friends got him there. He insisted. He then went to the graveyard despite all the snow. The bus drove to the graveside. The cords on the coffin (so important in Scotland) were shared among the family. Gavin had one left on his lap. He then went to the Parish Hall with everyone else. He was plugged in for the suction machine to do its work. The faith in that man and in that family is extraordinary. I met Melissa (Tommy’s grand-daughter). She got a kidney from her father Steve when she was 8 (in Sydney). When that kidney failed; she got one from her mother Angela. She now looks at her son Max and begins to realise what he means to her and their shared love. She can now step back into the past, realising that how she feels about her son is how her parents felt about her all those years ago.   All so moving.

Public Grieving:

Dolores O Riordan of the Cranberries dies. The whole country seems to be in mourning. She is such a young woman and a mother. I am wondering is this a Diana- moment or an excuse to emote. Dolores may have been a wonderful singer but she too had her problems. Was there an absence of proportionality about it all? Even the hierarchy decorated the occasion. The family friend, Liam McNamara spoke beautifully but I remain somewhat confused by the grieving public. Do we all love to swim along in the maelstrom of emotion or is it our excuse to spew out all our feelings when we get the chance? Is there a great camaraderie in grief?

The 8th Amendment:

In the midst of death, a repeal of the 8th Amendment savages the public consciousness. Our politicians are torn hither and thither. Many express their difficulties and are to be commended for that. The free vote in some of the parties seems very right. It is somewhat distracting how ‘the women’ feature so strongly. They should obviously be central. But surely there has been a man involved; there is a baby in the womb involved. It was summed up for me when Boyd Barratt was interviewed on RTE. He was asked ‘does the child in the womb have any rights’? Boyd Barrett immediately went onto to talk about the rights of women and never addressed the issue. Another lady politician spoke then but only to attack the church. The historical church deserves to be attacked for lots of things – but despite that past the basic question put to Boyd Barrett has to be faced. Free-for-all up to 12 weeks doesn’t address the reality whatever about the difficulties. It is a hugely complex issue but simplicities avoid that complexity. Can we leave things to the politicians to create enabling legislation? We weren’t so keen to give them any such power in a recent referendum in regard to Dail Committees.

Resignations and Tribunals:

I can’t get my mind around the McCabe chaos at present. We had Guerin; We had O Higgins; we have The Disclosures Tribunal with Peter Charleton. We lost Callinan, O Sullivan, Shatter and Fitzgerald. Is the world gone totally mad? Was their whole working life supposed to centre on Maurice McCabe? Surely he should have been dealt with way down the line. He was a minor player and now has become the pivotal person in the institution of the State. I would have thought that the Garda Siochana had more important things to be doing than concerning themselves with Maurice McCabe.

I know that many politicians were seething with indignation and loved looking for heads and screaming that they didn’t have confidence in this one or that. I know that some reporters were fuming with emotion and self- righteous certainty on the sacred personage of any and every whistle blower. But the time, energy, cost and distraction of all this seems grandiose and utterly stupid to me. Where is the proportionality? There is even concern and plentiful legal interrogation going on at the thought ‘they would have a go’ at McCabe. Of course they should have a go at McCabe. Every word he said; every person he implicated; every issue raised –should have been tackled robustly to test whether his whistle blowing lived up to the hype.

I think the whole show is gone totally out of kilter. I wonder will some of the ones who shouted the loudest be reminded of their words and their assumptions when the final Report is published. Who will pay for all of this? Why did it ever come to this? Noirin O Sullivan was right to resign. She couldn’t do her job. The lava was spewing out everywhere. Frances Fitzgerald was right to resign but the allegations against her seem to be total nonsense. She couldn’t interfere. She surely had more important business to be doing than following the minutiae of McCabe and whether he was alright or not.

Who needs Elections?

But aren’t we ever so blessed and edified by the simple life of Sinn Fein? They ‘elect’ a leader in the North. Only one candidate. They ‘elect’ a President. Only one candidate. They ‘elect’ a deputy. Only one candidate. How impressive all of this is. If any other party did it; who would shout the loudest? They could teach Rome a few things! The Vatican must be in a learning mode. Someone didn’t like Mary McAleese. And they covered their ears! Who wants or needs an opposition?

Seamus Ahearne osa (Rivermount).


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