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Poppies and Cornflower

Strange is this red beside the blue
I absorb the spiritual resonance
within the green mist
Intense! The vision has come
Strange and colorful
Inviolate spells inside the dream

But Beware!
The wind has stilled
Heavy are these flowers
I breathe invisibly
Silent.

Damned, translucent
restless in the night
the next morning waiting
out of this dream
Singing
Hoping

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“When I was living in New York and didn’t have a penny to my name, I would walk around the streets and occasionally I would see an alcove or something. And I’d think, that’ll be good, that’ll be a good spot for me when I’m homeless.”

– Larry David.

Last Christmas, on a cold evening of misting rain, I was walking down Carey’s Lane when I saw a pale, thin young man sitting on the pavement opposite the Pavilion, beside him a paper cup with a few pence in it. I stopped and gave him €2. I felt embarrassed. I’m not well-off, but €2 is still little enough to me that I always feel guilty it’s not more. Then I feel it’s awful that anyone is reduced to begging for €2 from the likes of me, so I just want to drop the coin and move off as fast as I can without…

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Cunning Hired Knaves

Pravda

There are two major stories in Ireland at the minute. One is the tribulations of the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and something of a crisis in the Fine Gael party. The other is the introduction of water charges through Irish Water.

Most of the attention is dedicated to the first story. Kenny’s attempt to get a failed county council election candidate for Fine Gael elected to the Seanad, via an appointment to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, has blown up in his face. This is the kind of story that gets political correspondents frotting their laps in excitement. Disarray in the court of King Kenny, that sort of thing. More broadly, it exposes the gap between the promises made by Fine Gael and Labour for a ‘democratic revolution’ and ‘political reform’, and the sordid reality: patronage, cronyism and disregard for transparency and accountability. So it provides good…

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Not everyone in Ireland bent the knee to the prevailing culture of punishing the children of the poor and their Mums. There were some who reached out to protect children. An Irish Traveller family sheltered and fed me after I absconded from one Institution. I received more food from them in the short few hours I was with them than I’d received from the nuns for a whole week – and the Travellers food was fresh and plenty of it.

Then there was the family in Dublin who took me in for a magical Christmas (late 50s/Early 60s) – even though they’d just become parents themselves, they’d actually opened their home to a child from the Institutions!

That was some Christmas – it even snowed! I’ve tried to recreate that Christmas for our own children every Christmas. Nothing fancy. Good Food, warmth, a few presents, sing-songs, games and importantly: A Sense of Belonging. Could never recreate the snow though!

And a family in Wexford who took me in for a Glorious Summer in 1960. There were trips on trains to the seaside, sandcastles, buns, lemonade, a visit to the cinema, good food – especially tomatoes! And A Sense of Belonging. And after I was returned to the Institution the family and friends I made in Wexford collected comics and sent them to me in the Institution.

All Memories to Cherish and I Do Cherish them.

If any full history of Ireland’s treatment of children in Institution is ever written these good people should have a place of honour in it. They brought Warmth and Love and a Sense of Belonging.

 

 

The Irish religious orders humiliations on little children and their Mums in the Institutions, is a long and sordid history. It has gone on since the birth of the nation. Their presumed moral authority has been a solid foundation for these kinds of abuses. And these Religious Orders thought they had the right to commit these abuses against the children. Because they were poor and their parent(s) had little education, some people in the government of this coutry – and that includes the Catholic Church – have justified the most heinous acts against children.

Look at how nonchalantly the TDs in parliament took the incident of the boy who had his arm broken when he was savagely beaten by the Christian Brothers in Artane. And at least one boy had already been beaten to death in that Institution before!

Being tied by vows to a religious order like the christian brothers or the sisters of mercy does something to people. It can intoxicate them, poison their spirits, their resolve; it can mutate their values, their life-long innocence even, it can make probably rather passive and fun-loving people into beasts.  Abusing poor children to build a christian brother/sisters of mercy empire, does this even worse. Is anyone surprised?  

We need a true reckoning, a true accounting. These acts committed against children and families will always be part of Ireland’s historical legacy. Any history of this “Island of Saints and Scholars” that excludes the appalling abuses committed by the religious orders against children will be a history of lies.