by Pat Brosnan

The Taoiseach’s Outburst

One of the current topics which was discussed by me and my fellow panellists in the Exchange programme on West Limerick 102 Radio last Thursday morning was the amazing outburst by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny in which he allegedly denounced the Vatican and laid all the blame on the Holy See officials for having allegedly downplayed the clerical abuse which had happened and for deliberately concealing and covering it up.

He allegedly accused the Vatican of putting the power and primacy of the Church rather than that of the victims first by concealing what went on in Catholic Dioceses and institutions which were run by religious orders and clergy. According to media reports the Taoiseach in his denunciation used some long-winded phrases such as “dysfunction”, disconnection” “elitism” and “narcissism” which even those of us who have been writing for the media for over sixty years would find it difficult enough to understand in the context of the matter in which they were expressed.

It seems extraordinary that Enda Kenny, considering where he comes from, with a strong Fine Gael background, a party, more than all other political organisation in the country which has been so religiously conservative and so closely allied to the Catholic Church going back to the foundation of the State.

Those of us of an older generation, if we turn our minds back to the Civil War, will be aware even though it happened before our time that the Church and many of the clergy (not all of them) supported the Free State Government and army and never even condemned the most outrageous, cold blooded and deliberate atrocity that happened in Ireland during the 20th century – the killing, by the Free State Army, of eight Republican political prisoners whom they tied up over a mine and blew to smithereens on a March morning in 1923 at Ballyseedy Cross near Tralee.

Then in later years during the thirties we also know that General Owen O’Duffy, who had been Chief of Police in the Free State Government, went around the country with the Blueshirt organisation on a recruiting campaign for volunteers to go to help Franco’s Fascist (Falangest) forces in their revolution against the existing Socialist Government in the Spanish Civil War. O’Duffy and the Blueshirts portrayed Franco’s Army as upholders of the Catholic faith fighting against communism, so in this they were probably partly right. More of Franco’s allies came from Italy and Germany, both of which countries shortly afterwards set in motion World War II.

Franco’s forces eventually won the brutal Spanish Civil War with the help of the Irish Blueshirts and the encouragement of the Irish Church who believed the Spanish Civil War to be a Catholic Crusade.

Actually many Irishmen fought on either side in the Spanish Civil War but that of course is another story, water under the bridge as they say.

The foregoing paragraphs have only been included to illustrate the long existing mutual admiration between the Fine Gael party and its predecessors and the Catholic Church.

Mr. Kenny’s outburst opens up a strange and unusual paradox, that the leader of the Fine Gael party would make such an unusual, blistering, emotional and highly charged verbal onslaught on those in charge at the Vatican is just beyond belief. However one would like to believe that he had no ulterior motive and that he had no intention of using this to generate any extra mileage for himself and his party and that it was motivated by sympathy for those who suffered rather than anything else. But my own belief is that such a highly charged outburst was both untimely and unnecessary, particularly at a time when the Church is already under siege and unprecedented pressures in this country with a concerted campaign, one could almost use the word conspiracy, by the so-called liberal agenda to undermine its teachings and institutions.

Mr. Kenny must be very much aware of this and he must also be aware of the joint responsibility of both the State as well as that of the Church for the welfare of both children and adults who were committed to the care of religious orders who were running the institutions.

For the Taoiseach to solely blame the Church for all that has happened and make accusations of a deliberate cover-up and conspiracy against the Vatican is both unfair, unreasonable and unworthy of the leader of this country, irrespective of his high rating in a recent opinion poll.

There are some, no doubt, would suggest that it took much courage for the Taoiseach to make such a statement. But does it really take courage to swim with the tide of popular public opinion and go with the flow rather than pursue a more responsible course which in the words of a former Taoiseach, late Jack Lynch, had described once as being “sane and safe” in another context.


80th Birthday

Congratulations to Patsy O’Sullivan of Toureendonnell who recently celebrated his 80th birthday at home with members of his family and grandchildren, sons-in-law and relatives.

Patsy is still in great form and well able to go about his usual daily tasks. Wishing him many more happy years and good health.



Music lovers, singers and followers of dancing and other kinds of traditional entertainment from West Limerick as well as other parts of the county and outside areas will be coming to Athea this weekend during the August bank holiday period. A big programme of events has been lined up with something to suit all tastes. It is hoped that the weather will be fine and that all visitors as well as local people will enjoy themselves.


Death of Eileen O’Donnell

The recent death of Eileen O’Donnell (nee McCoy) of Templeathea was widely regretted throughout Athea parish and further afield. She had only been sick for a short time prior to her passing and had even visited relatives in England just a few weeks ago.

Eileen, who worked as a home help, was a very dedicated and caring person with those whom she looked after and she was also a well liked member of the local community.

The removal took place from Kelly’s Funeral Home to St. Bartholomew’s Church on Monday night of last week where many people called to pay their respects. Her funeral to Holy Cross cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, following Requiem Mass, was also well attended.

Sympathy is extended to her daughter Sharon, her brother, sister, her in-laws and her other relatives. May her soul rest in peace.

Sadly Eileen was the fifth member of the McCoy family to die including her mother, two sisters and brother within the past number of recent years. Their father Stephen predeceased them several years ago.

May all their souls rest in peace.


Late Jude O’Sullivan

The death of Jude O’Sullivan of Glin which occurred unexpectedly was very much regretted by many of those from Athea parish who attended Tarbert Comprehensive School with him, some of whom were his close friends. By all accounts he was very well liked among his peers. Our own Breda, who lives in Canada, told me on the phone during the week that she and a couple of Tarbert girls also knew him well when they lived in London and when he was also there.

She told me too that he was a good friend of former Limerick County team football goalkeeper Mike McLoughlin who now lives in Tarbert with his wife Caroline and their family.

Sympathy is extended to Jude’s family members and other relatives on their sad loss. May his soul rest in peace.