Dan Keane (1919-2012)

In January 2012 I had the privilege of preaching at the funeral Mass of a great mentor and inspiration to many in North Kerry, the great Dan Keane. I came across the words yesterday in a drawer.

“A storyteller,a poet, a raconteur, an expert on place names……but we all knew a man of soul for there was a place in the ‘Maunie’ where no time or flesh or created thing touched.

We have lost a man that was in touch with what we all ache for – that tranquility, wholeness and pure belonging. Creativity, prayer and love brought the man from Clounprohus there. He used his imagination to get there – he could walk the same road everyday and see something different for he was anchored in himself. 

To be with anyone else, he wasn’t scraping his needs off them. He knew God is the deepest thing in each of us. So he awakened the energy and beauty of the Divine in us. 

Did any of us feel judged, condemned or dismissed by Dan? Did anyone of us hear a bad word or story from him in a time that explores every last taboo. 

The man that walked, cycled, drove our countryside selling insurance had the ultimate insurance policy himself, he lived the life he loved and got blessings from above! As he went through our countryside and our homes he dispensed humour, poetry and blessings. He did the forensic work of naming our countryside of North Kerry and West Limerick. He storied our countryside with verse and song. He wrote on people’s hearts a message that says we are more divine than human-we can handle our faults and flaws. 

In you Dan, we felt called to be ourselves. I remember he saying one day: “take my advice, I’m not using it myself (!), spend time with your own heart.”

It is therefore his wish,our honour that we gather round the Eucharistic table of the Lord to honour Dan.”


Another marker!

This Friday was a long time coming, as it came closer it seemed to be farther away!

On May 30th I started chemotherapy again this year. After three weeks I found out I was a candidate for radium as well and today I’m finished 25 radium treatments that I took concurrently with the chemotherapy.

I feel blessed to have reached this stage without the difficulty of infection or bloods dropping too low for to take the treatment. The treatments went according to plan thanks be to God on this day, the feast of St. Martha, the woman of the Gospel that Jesus declared faith in the Resurrection to. John 11:25.

The blood is now very low and there is a huge risk of infection so I have to be very careful while the treatment does the work it will do. The oro morph is back on the menu again as the eating gets a bit more challenging but possible.

I’m so grateful to so many who practically supported me in such a loving enabling way for this part of the journey, at so many different levels. The medical teams I met in the two hospitals were so professional and caring. 

To honour this stage of the journey, I was brought on the last day to the healing waters of Tubrid Well in Millstreet on the way back.

And to celebrate our existence(!), Breda and I went shopping for a Vespa bike. It brings back memories of Rome, where Vespa drivers are the modern day charioteers as they roam the streets of the city.

Made in Italy it’s a 49cc engine, limited edition,can carry a pillion passanger, low tax and insurance but I couldn’t get a helmet big enough for my swelled head!!

“It’s only words and words are all I have to…,,,”

Two experiences this week that found their way into words.

             The thread we hang by.

Coming through Ballyvourney 

the articulated truck coming against us 

shed a back wheel. 

It rolled along beside the truck,

just inches from our oncoming car.

Travelling at thirty miles an hour 

if it had mounted our bonnet……

but it didn’t.

As the overwhelming smell of rubber filled the car for miles,

we finally found the words to say,

Isn’t that how random life can be?

Like an unchanging piece of Music.

The sound of children playing thrills the heart – a trustable sound this fine Summer’s eve.

The sound has me running wild again,

in a neighbour’s yard,

hands out,

slowing down to find the ball I mightn’t even kick.

What happened over half a century ago lives again 

as real as the sounds I now hear.

An unchanging piece of Music.

As Leonard Cohn says, ” poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

A Simple yet profound message.

Message from Pope Francis to pilgrims going to World Youth Day
“ I am very anxious to meet you and to offer the world a new sign of harmony, a mosaic of different faces, from many races, languages, peoples and cultures, but all united in the name of Jesus, who is the Face of Mercy.”

déjà vu !

There was such a crowd in Ballybunion yesterday there was hardly room for the tide to come in!

Even the cattle went to the strand!

Artist, Gemma Billington got a four page spread in The Sunday Independent.

Friends from my days in Rome called and we recalled a toast that we had occasion to use more than once in the eternal city at the end of a celebratory meal, from Hillaire Belloc : 

“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,

There’s always laughter and good red wine,

At least I’ve always found it is,

Benedicamus Domino.”

But nostalgia isn’t what it used to be!!

Look what the full moon brought!

Long time, no see! Up to 30 degrees Celsius in the Green Island today, the hottest day of the year.

It won’t last too long but its welcome.

I had a visit over the weekend from the dynamic duo, Tom Costello and Sonny Egan. There is healing in their company. Tom is being encouraged by Sonny to launch a solo singing career and one can understand why.

Then my nephew from Mayo, Mickie the Great, came and had to visit the memory tree the grandchildren planted in memory of Granny Peg at her months mind Mass.

The January Sales!

Today, my friend Breda accompanied me to Cork for treatment and consultation. For the two hour intermission between meetings she decided to do something more imaginative than John O Callaghan last Thursday. ” Let’s do the January sales!” she suggested – seeing that the Christmas Shopping was out of the way!

As it turned out we did something far more imaginative. We went to the Honan Chapel in the grounds of U.C.C.

Completed in 1916 its style is simple and restrained but showcases the best of Irish traditions. The carved stonework, 

the mosaic floor,

the tabernacle, 

carved seats but most of all the spectacular stained glass windows by Sarah Purser and the young Harry Clarke.

I love young Clarke’s representation of St. Gobnet, the linear figures and the rich blue hues.

“All yee works of the Lord, O Bless the Lord!”

Consultation went well and I’m halfway through this round of treatment. 

The Chapel reminds me of the generosity of the Honan family of Cork, dedicated craftsmanship of women and men, “fired by a living faith in the presence among us of the Lord Jesus.”

The Feast of St. Benedict.

Today is the Feast day of St Benedict, Patron of Europe. I’m in a pensive mood today as I get my chemotherapy treatment along with the radium and I have lots of memories associated with Benedict after my time in Rome, over 35 years ago.

With my friends and classmates Gearoid Walsh and Brian Daly I remember taking the bus up beyond Tivoli , out to Subiaco where Benedict founded his first Monastry. The sense of tradition and clarity there I still recall. The ravens remind the pilgrim of the three years Benedict spent there as a hermit.

Benedict wrote a Rule there that greatly influenced Monastic life throughout Europe. It strives for Balance, between prayer, sleep and manual work.

Another time, after Christmas I remember going to Monte Cassino, the Monastry he died in, mid-way between Rome and Naples. I went with Dom Bede Lynch, Vice Rector of the Greek College in Rome and a monk from Glenstal where he is now buried. And wouldn’t you know it, his mother was a North Kerry woman known to my mother! The Monastery was destroyed by the Allies in 1945 but rebuilt after the War. Heavy snow meant we were held there for a few extra days. I still remember the view as we walked down in the snow to the town to get the train back to Rome.

The medal of Benedict has been with me throughout my life, “May the Holy Cross be our Life.” Farmers always valued his protection.