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The latest report on child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese does not fail to shock. The abuse itself is chilling, depressing and appalling, but compounding it is the behaviour of senior bishops and cardinals as they conspired – over a 40 year period – to cover up the scale of the scandal throughout the Dublin area. A new word has been added to the common lexicon – “mental reservation“: where bishops could freely excuse themselves from telling the truth when under pressure to do so. The welfare of children was of little importance to these men, and the resultant suffering is incalculable.

Mary Raftery neatly sums up the gravity of this report and it’s implications for the Catholic Church in Ireland. One passage in particular stands out:

What emerges most clearly from the report is that priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals had the greatest difficulty in telling right from wrong, and crucially that their determination of what constituted wrongdoing was vastly different from that of the population at large.

Let’s think about that, for a second. The Catholic Church, like most religions, believes that the greatest value it confers to society is its ability to guide people in distinguishing right from wrong. And yet, it’s most eminent leaders and scholars behaved – and still behave – in a way that would lead you to the firm conclusion that, despite their years of learning, refinement and experience, they have no clue as to what is commonly accepted as morally acceptable or morally abhorrent behaviour. If the very leaders of this church can’t distinguish between right and wrong, what use is Catholicism at all? Why should any sane society uncritically accept the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in our schools? What real benefit does it offer our children?

The implications of the report are clear: The Church badly needs to be removed from the affairs of the Irish State. Let the parents and teachers teach our children right from wrong – they will do a better job. The churchmen had their chance for long time and they blew it. Enough is enough.


I rediscovered this gem on YouTube tonight. The original recordings date back from the 1960’s and many years later they were turned into a series of short animations by Brown Bag Films.  This particular one gained an Academy Award nomination in 2001. All the films have recently been uploaded to YouTube in their entirety.

It harks back to a very different time in Ireland. More certainty, fewer questions, perhaps. Whatever the case, the twists the kids put on the stories were delightful. Note the strong Dublin accents! 

Is it me, or does John the Baptist look very like Chris de Burgh?

I took these shots with my mobile phone camera near Sean O’Casey Bridge on my way back from work last Monday.

The Liffey from John Rogersons Quay

This picture was taken just south of Sean O’Casey Bridge, a low sun and surprisingly few people around.

The Docklands from Sean O’Casey Bridge

The docklands are undergoing a massive transformation. For some years now, tall cranes have dominated this area, once populated by warehouses and derelict sites.

Sunset over Dublin

Finally the Ulsterbank group headquarters, Connolly Hall, the Customs House and the Spire in silhouette, as the sun diminishes into the west.

The new Irish Rail experience

Irish Rail recently purchased a whole set of super-duper railway carriages as part of a major government initiative to modernise our country’s rolling stock. You can book your train seats in advance, there is plenty of room for luggage and the journey itself is impressive by its relative silence.

One of the things that particularly interested me were the on-board toilets – automatic doors, push-button locking systems, triple action pee sprays for the loo-bowl, infrared systems for hand-washing, hot air blowers for drying. An almost totally hands-free waste management experience. The future has indeed arrived!

Except for one thing.

On my trip down from Dublin, the smell of cigarette smoke emanating from the little room was overpowering. The little room is being used as a smoking room by some of the lesser-evolved members of this society. And what do Irish Rail seem to be doing about it? Smoke alarms perhaps? Spot fines? Throwing the offenders out of the train at high speed? Garotting them on the emergency break cord? Naah. More than their job’s worth I would guess. After all, we are only talking about health and safety laws here..

In addition, what is it with the Irish male species that they feel obliged to bring on-board 12 packs of beer tins, and proceed to get pissed in front of their fellow travellers? Some of my fellow travellers were already stinking of drink before they boarded the train. If this was air-travel these people would never be allowed on in the first place.

I must be getting old, but it just seems that with all the changes in our country over the past few years, some old habits will take a long time to die out.

My friend Azahar got a laugh out of me this evening. It resonates with something I have been thinking about a lot since I started work in Dublin two weeks ago.

Temple Bar is the central tourist district in Dublin. Walking down its streets, you are assaulted by American themed sports bars, Spanish restaurants, Romanian buskers, French jugglers and Polish and Czech beer-joints, with all things Irish* well out of view. I’m sure this is no accident. Marketing being what it is nowadays, this is likely to be what most tourists to Dublin want. Instead of shamrock emblazoned bars, trad sessions, and Brendan Behan wannabes mouthing off about the price of a pint, what you get instead is an idiosyncratic and vibrant display of World Culture.

I don’t see this in a particularly negative light. To a large extent, “culture” is directly related to backwardness. When Ireland was a land of great culture, thousands of people were buying one-way tickets out of the place. Neither was it a mecca for hordes of tourists back then, as far as I know.

Actually, before I leave this entry, I remember reading once about an accident in the 19th century, where a very large whiskey barrel broke, its contents spilling out on the streets, flooding the gutters. Great crowds of people had to be physically pulled off the streets in a state of extreme inebriation.

Now that’s culture for ya.

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June 2023

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