Monthly Archives: May 2016

A Nun Takes the Veil.

A Nun Takes the Veil.
I find this poem by Cullen born poet, Bernard O’ Donoghue, extremely moving. Whenever I read it, the pathos of it moves me to tears of sadness and rage in equal measure. I ask myself, what kind of a society or institution would accept little girls into a convent at the age of twelve? Making a lifelong decision, or having it made for them, long before they had the maturity to make any decision, on anything at all. A vocation – at twelve!
A cousin of my mother entered a convent at the age of thirteen after finishing primary school and set sail for Australia, four years later to the Mother House in New South Wales. In those pre Vatican 11 days, if the young girls were intended for the missions, they set sail knowing they would never be able to return home. Their departure was like a wake, something similar to the so called American wakes when young people emigrated to the US. What heartless and nonsensical rules! Words fail me at the cruelty of it.
The other point is that if these young girls grew up, as many of them must have, to realise they didn’t have a vocation, they were trapped in the religious life until they died as few ever left. If they did, they would have been quite isolated and more than likely would have had to emigrate in order to have the freedom to build a new life. Most didn’t, unable to face letting down parents, families and communities and institutionalised from a young age, they feared their ability to carve out a new life for themselves, so they stayed put. I don’t think it’s very surprising that many of them became heartless monsters themselves, inflicting terrible damage on children in their care.
The poem itself captures the innocence and the beauty of a mind just opening to the world around it.
That morning early I ran through briars
To catch the calves that were bound for market.
I stopped the once, to watch the sun
Rising over Doolin across the water.
 
The calves were tethered outside the house
While I had my breakfast: the last one at home
For forty years. I had what I wanted (they said
I could), so we’d loaf bread and Marie biscuits.
 
We strung the calves behind the boat,
Me keeping clear to protect my style:
Confirmation suit and my patent sandals.
But I trailed my fingers in the cool green water,
 
Watching the puffins driving homeward
To their nests on Aran. On the Galway mainland
I tiptoed clear of the cow-dunged slipway
And watched my brothers heaving the calves
 
As they lost their footing. We went in the trap,
Myself and my mother, and I said goodbye
To my father then. The last I saw of him
Was a hat and jacket and a salley stick,
 
Driving cattle to Ballyvaughan.
He died (they told me) in the county home,
Asking to see me. But that was later:
As we trotted on through the morning-mist,
 
I saw a car for the first time ever,
Hardly seeing it before it vanished.
I couldn’t believe it, and I stood up looking
To where I could hear its noise departing
 
But it was only a glimpse. That night in the convent
The sisters fussed me, but I couldn’t forget
The morning’s vision, and I fell asleep
With the engine humming through the open window.
 
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Kilmainham Goal, May 8th, 1916.

Kilmainham, May 8th 1916.
Of all the rebel executed for their part in the Rising, Michael Mallin is, for me, the most intriguing. He served in the British Army, spending a number of years in India. He came home, left the army and married the sweetheart he left behind. At the time of the rebellion, he was the father of four children with a fifth on the way. He was an officer in the Citizens’ Army, founded by James Connolly.
During Easter Week, he was commandant in St. Stephen’s Green/College of Surgeons. But despite his military training, he neglected to take control of the Shelbourne Hotel overlooking the Green, which meant the enemy could take it over and fire down on his small group of rebels which included Countess Markievicz , who was second in command. With the British firing down on them from the hotel, the rebels had to retreat to the Royal College of Surgeons.
When Pearse gave the order to surrender towards the end of the week, it was Mallin as commandant who surrendered to British forces. Yet at his trial, he claimed that he was only a normal soldier, didn’t know James Connolly and that it was, in fact, Countess Markievicz, who commanded the battalion at the Green, not himself. He further claimed that he was only obeying her orders when he led his group of men into position. This is astonishing, as apart from any other consideration, he had to know by claiming this that he was endangering Markievicz ‘s life. Perhaps, he said what he did because he realised he was leaving his wife and children behind without a support and that their lives would be harsh and poverty stricken. That seems to be the common belief now. In fact, later on after his execution, while his wife was in labour with their fifth child, Dublin women opposed to the rebellion because they had family fighting with the British army in France, shouted obscenities outside the hospital to show their disapproval of her executed husband role in the rebellion.
Michael Mallin wrote a poignant letter on the night he died to his wife and family. In it, he expressed the wish that one of his sons, Joseph, might become a priest and that his daughter, Una, become a nun if at all possible. Years later, when the children were grown, both Joseph and Úna entered religious life. His son, Fr. Joseph Mallin, aged 102, lives in Hong Kong where he spent most of his life in missionary work and is the only living child of an executed rebel leader.
One hundred years ago today, in the early hours of May 8th,Michael Mallin, no doubt his mind tormented with the worry of leaving his family impoverished behind him, entered the stone breakers’ yard, for his execution. Éamonn Ceannt, Con Colbert who was born in Castlemahon and Séan Heuston were also killed on May 8

Mary Angland's photo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shakespeare’s Words in Everyday Use.

‘A Plague on both your Houses’ – Shakespeare in Everyday Use.

Many people have had their schooldays enriched by studying one of Shakespeare’s plays, particularly the more popular ones like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice for example but even those who felt their lives blighted by the works of the bard, still use phrases and words coined by Shakespeare over 400 hundred years ago. Finding the language of the time inadequate to express his thoughts and emotions he coined new word and phrases, over 3000 of them, many of which have passed into common usage today. So when you find yourself saying any of the following, you can thank Shakespeare for coming up with them. Have you ever been more sinned against than sinning, found that something was Greek to me, asking someone if ‘you have a tongue in your head. Have you ever sent someone packing while muttering good riddance under your breath or threw someone out bag and baggage? If you were ever a laughing stock, gave the devil his due, seen better days, then you’re quoting Shakespeare! (Courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe)

Mary Angland's photo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Execution of Major John McBride.

100 years ago this week, the executions continued in Kilmainham Goal in Dublin. Shot 100 years ago today was Major John McBride, who was married to, and separated from, the famous Maud Gonne,nationalist and figure of inspiration for the love lorn poet William Butler Yeats who might not have had such a prodigious body of work to leave behind had he not met her!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeares-Globe-TheatreThis being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, there is even more interest than usual in his life and works. The original GlobeTheatre where Shakespeare had his plays performed was destroyed in a fire in 1613 when a cannon misfired during a performance of Henry viii and the thatch and wooden beams caught fire. It was rebuilt the following year but closed for good by the Puritans in 1642. The modern Globe in London’s South Bank was opened in 1997 and it mirrors the original to a large extent. In the old days, poorer theatre goers paid one penny to enter the yard surrounding the stage where there were no seats. There they stood, laughing, jeering and cheering the actors during the performances. Today, you can still buy a ticket for the yard for £5, the equivalent of one penny in Shakespeare’s day. Below is the Globe Theatre today.(Photo courtesy of Globe Theatre)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Unsung Heroes

One of the most underestimated and under valued facility we have must surely be our public libraries. This year, you can join for free and up to now, it was a mere E2.50. As little as that and you had the pick of literally thousands of books. I also think our librarians are marvellous, a fountain of knowledge about everything, incredibly obliging and always helpful. So I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to our hard working librarians, particularly Anna, at my local library who does trojan work and the staff in Charleville library as well.Well done, everyone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized