Nostrums offered for lockdown depression…

We are now at the stage of the pandemic where the gurus are emerging to bestow advice about depression and the toll that lockdown is taking on our mental health. A variety of nostrums are being offered to help deal with the stress of continuous lockdown – with little hope of eased restrictions this side…

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We were in a middle-class bubble

Since I am of the generation who grew up in Ireland in the 1950s, I’ve received messages on social media saying I – or we – must have been aware of the neglect, malnutrition and cruelties of the mother and baby homes which have been brought to light this week. Astonishing It may seem astonishing…

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Remembering Fr Fergal O’Connor…

Fifty years ago, in 1971, a very fine Dominican priest (and philosopher), Fergal O’Connor, set up an organisation to support unmarried mothers, calling it ‘Ally’. In her autobiography, Political Woman the late Nuala Fennell, T.D. – the first minister for women’s rights – praised Fr O’Connor most especially for his pioneering and compassionate work in…

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Knowing what it’s like to be lonesome

‘Goodwill to all’ is one of the key messages of Christmas and maybe particularly relevant in this year of Covid-19 restrictions. Social community In all my life, of over seven decades, I don’t think I’ve lived more separated or detached from a social community. Sometimes, it seemed, it was as if all of us had…

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The Famine – are we all guilty?

The Hunger – RTÉ’s documentary on the Famine – certainly was a landmark achievement in television history, using resources with great skill. It was unsparing in some of its distressing detail – not flinching from mentioning incidents of cannibalism – and in attributing shocking behaviour to ordinary Irish people as well as to the British…

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Was it really the worst year ever?

The American international magazine Time has designated 2020 as the worst year ever. This, arguably, emblemises the mentality of ‘presentism’ – that is, the notion that what we are experiencing right now is the worst (or the best) ever, without allowing for the perspective of history. There have been many worse years: we could start…

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What Meghan’s baby loss tells us

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was much praised for writing openly about having suffered a miscarriage last July. She and Prince Harry felt “unbearable grief” after they lost their second baby. The miscarriage occurred while she was changing the nappy of her one-year-old son, Archie. “I knew as I clutched my firstborn child that I was…

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The dilemma of gay divorce

Pope Francis spoke recently about supporting civil unions for homosexual people, and it’s not the first time he has made that point. He did so as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He has always been keen to emphasise that gay Catholics are part of the family and that is a point that would, I think, be…

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Brickbats and bouquets…

When it was reported in a London newspaper that Catholic priests can feel hurt and dismayed when the Faithful compare and judge their sermons – via internet live-stream Masses – the BBC commentator Nick Robinson remarked smartly: “Join the club!” Those guys and gals in the media are used to both brickbats and bouquets for…

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