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.

A Giddy Fun Day .

Each day a different person brings me to Cork Hospital from Killarney. I am blessed in the support I have. Everything is running so smoothly. The trip, the hospital..,

Meeting fellow patients and the respect, awareness and sensitivity we have for each other. The water cooler is a great place of encounter..,

Today I had a two hour wait from the time I got my radiotherapy to the time I had my weekly meeting with the consultant. All went very well.

My friend, John O Callaghan took me today. We crossed over to the Wilton Shopping Centre, to pass away the time.

Let’s do our Christmas Shopping and take the stress out of next December,” suggested John!  Rather than talk about hospital to anyone we met, (and a lot of Kerry people were shopping there today), we told them our purpose! “The butcher was fine, if a little surprised, to take the order for the turkey, to be collected on December 23rd!”

When the weather and the soccer, the holidays and the greyhounds are discussed, when the iPhone is redundant, Thank God for a sense of humour and a fine day.

Accepting Nourishment.

I’m becoming increasingly aware of nourishing presences and moments around me.Last Wednesday afternoon, after treatment we went up to Breda and Ben for a meal. Mossie, Clare and Diarmuid Og joined us for food, chat and to take in the view. It was nourishment.

In treatment, accepting the chemotherapy and the radium, thanking it for the good it is coming to do and trusting in the healing it is bringing to my body.

It never ceases to amaze me the hold Ballybunion land and sea scape holds on the imagination of those of us lucky enough to have embraced it. This picture captured the light that at times seems to shine OUT of everything. At moments like this I have often asked myself as I looked up or down from the cliffs,”what else would you need now?”

Memories of solitary deep moments can be so nourishing.

The awarenesses,precision and detail with the care and compassion experienced in my daily hospital trips is nourishment.

The faith that we have inherited, witnessed to by the Skellig’s monks, finding a new way into the global consciousness though “StarWars” is sustaining,especially when I see and experience such practical expressions of it around me.

And then I read Caroline Myss who captures in words what I want to believe and sometimes sense that I know from the inside out.

A Thistle Night .

Saturday night, in downtown Asdee, we gathered to discuss and solve some of the great issues of our time. 

It is a great year for thistles, Kevin pointed out. They add colour on the way to the fort with the foxgloves.

Kevin also pointed out that there are people he meets that are a little bit prickly like the thistle.

Yet it is the emblem of Scotland, Donie pointed out. His grandmother’s first cousin was awarded the order of the thistle in Scotland for her pioneering work that she did with hedgehogs (also very prickly) “No one harms me without punishment,”is the motto of the order of the thistle.

“Not a bad motto,” said Con Hanlon. The thistle can grow in the roughest of places he pointed out. It’s a tough plant but it also protects the purple flower. That’s why the Scots have it as a national emblem. When the barefoot Vikings were attacking them at night, their roar woke the Scots when they walked on thistles.

Our resident artist, Sean Stack, said that purple was the colour of nobility and pride.

So there you have it all! The pain, the protection and the pride. And all because there is a great crop of thistles this year! 

So we decided that we’d institute an Order of the Buachallan. It would be given to the best double yoked egg produced in the locally. Terms and conditions will apply and canvassing will disqualify. 

Watch this space.

A Great Year for…,,,

Well it’s a great year for Roses :

A better year for elderberries:

The best year I can remember for foxglove:

But , as Paddy McElligott would say: ” an atrocious year ” for apples.

My neighbour, Anne Linnane noticed in her pear and apple orchard that the blossoms came very early but got badly singed in the wind, rain and frost. I had noticed myself how few apples were forming. So the apple press won’t be out as often in Carrigane this summer for Anne’s wonderful bottled cider called “Carrigane Dew”, which warms up our winters. For Carrigane is a place where every man gets his due!! 

John must be a friend of the great Patsy Kennedy who recently celebrated thirty years of married bliss to the wonderful Frances. John turned up on his face book page and he must have a sense of humour if Patsy knows him! The stone is wet these days!

I made “Kerry’s Eye ” again this week. I feel a small bit uncomfortable with the language of war fare so often used in relation to cancer. Illness can often come as a teacher with necessary lessons. It inserts me in a different and more aware setting. I don’t feel I’m in ‘a battle.’ I’m certainly on a learning curve. I feel the awarenesses I bring to any situation will greatly effect the outcome. Sometimes illnesses  brings a message with them which needs to be heard and then when its heard moves on.

June 27 th

From the ‘Ireland in Pictures‘ section of the RTE website comes this beautiful picture of a sunset on Beale strand, taken recently by Monica Dillane .

Back in 1982, 34 years ago today, I was ordained to the priesthood in St. Michael’s Church in Ballylongford. Looking back, it seems like such a short time and I’m so grateful for the many graces and blessings I’ve received over the years.

Yesterday, I let the people of the Parish of Duagh and Lyreacompane know of my decision to resign as Parish Priest of there.

I arrived at that decision because I feel the need to give my full attention to recovery. And my treatment is going so well, I have over six weeks of chemotherapy done and this afternoon I’m starting a month of daily radium. This time the treatment is less severe and focused on one small place. 

I’m looking forward to going back to parish work when I’m fully recovered. So on the weekend of Brexit  – it’s Duexit for me!

Some words that inspired me back on ordination day still do today – from Karl Rahner.

The Priest is not an angel sent from heaven;

he is a man chosen from among men,

and a member of the Church, a Christian. 

Remaining human and Christian, 

he begins to speak to you the Word of God. 

This Word is not his own.

 No, he comes to you because God has told him to proclaim God’s Word.

Perhaps he has not entirely understood it himself. 

Perhaps he adulterates it. 

But he believes; 

and despite his fears, he knows that he must communicate God’s Word to you.

 For must not some of us say something about God, about eternal life….must not some of us speak

of sin and the love and mercy of God?

So, dear friends, pray for him. 

Carry him, so that he might be able to sustain others by bringing them the mystery of God’s love,

revealed in Jesus Christ.

Anocht oiche Shin Sean.

Bonfire Night, an tine mar shiombal an gile agus an cumhacht.

                   Ta draoicht ann.

I think I may have been only six years old when our neighbour, Jimmy Mulvihill, who died too young, lit a fire on St. John’s Eve just down the road from here. We gathered and there was a great sense of outdoor ritual. It was pagan, wild and real.

Over in Asdee there is the Holy Well of St. Eoin. For these days were Christianised as St. John’s Eve.

And I remember an account of life along our road written by Tom Linnane in The Shannonside Annual in 1956. His memory reached back into the mid 1700’s. He recalled the old people saying that when the Viking Chiefs were dying back home they bequeathed to their families some lands in the shade of Cnoc an Fhomhair. For they had settled along the estuary when they came here and set up our first towns. Sankt Hans is the name of the mid summer festival the Danes observe these nights as their Viking Celebration.

Memory is to the person


Tradition is to community.


That’s the shout that went up around the world when Robbie Brady scored in the 85th minute in Lille last night. Tears, screams and leaps as Ireland beat Italy. The fans are keeping us all going.

It is good to be outdoors even if the weather isn’t perfect.

The elegance of the wild iris, dressed in the Kerry colours.

We gathered round the fire to mark the Solstice. 

Until we were invaded by Kylo Ren, from Star Wars! 

“Forgive me again. I feel it. The pull of the light.” 

And then there was the language of the wind..

Somewhere John Moriarty mentions the twelve languages of the wind and the eighteen languages of the rain. Yesterday evening, in downtown Asdee, the winds blew up, in loud conversation with everything in full bloom. Mary White reminded us all that the pigs can see the wind which of course is a great advantage when they are flying! Everything got tossed about and now it is settling.

“All the bloomy flush of life,” is in an abundance of colour.

Stepping into another week, I’m again empowered  by the wisdom shared by Caroline Myss.