I doubt if it happens very often that guests appearing on an RTÉ programme say the Rosary on the way to the studio, but that’s exactly what happened last weekend.
It was the Marian Finucane Show last Saturday morning (RTÉ Radio 1) when the special guests were Olive Foley, wife of deceased rugby player Anthony Foley, and Sr Helen Culhane of the Children’s Grief Centre. Mrs Foley stressed how important her faith was to her, how she feels guided by the Holy Spirit and how blessed she felt, accompanied by her children, when she brought gifts to Pope Francis at the September Mass in the Phoenix Park.
She had linked up with Sr Helen in trying to discern how best to deal with the grief of her children after their father had died so suddenly, on a rugby tour in Paris. The strong message was to be honest and open with children and not cover tragedy with euphemism. I was particularly moved by the story of the family’s initial response to the tragic news, “the most shocking thing imaginable”, and impressed by the story of young son Tony’s ‘8 Masses for Number 8’ campaign which brought people touched by the campaign back to Mass going.
Another family that has suffered is that of Maurice and Lorraine McCabe. Whistleblower, a two-part documentary on Garda McCabe (RTÉ1, Monday and Tuesday of last week) was hugely engaging but also depressing as we saw the awful way Garda McCabe was treated because he was revealing wrongdoing in the force. What is wrong with institutions (yes, including the Church at times) that when they are alerted to wrongdoing the instinct is to circle the wagons and defend the institution, even if individuals are made to suffer, rather than tackling the wrongdoing head on and dealing with it decisively? Efforts to avoid scandal or reputational damage end up totally counter-productive and destroying trust in the institution.
The humanity and vulnerability of the McCabes came through strongly in Katie Hannon’s fine documentary, and I’m not convinced that we have the full truth about the events described – in particular I’m not sure we’ve got the full picture of the role of Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) in the false charges being made against Garda McCabe. Maybe there were coincidences but they are decidedly fishy.
Back in the world of fictional drama, when I find British dramas impressive, and many Irish dramas disappointing, I hope it’s not an inferiority complex, but I know a bad drama when I see it, and not all British ones are good either. I find the BBC production Keeping Faith (TG4, Tuesdays) to be awkward and irritating.
I watched it originally on BBC, just about hanging in there but it just went on and on to the point where I couldn’t care less whether the missing husband returned or not.
It might have been tolerable if it went on for four episodes rather than eight, but somebody must have got a big budget and managed to prove that more money doesn’t necessarily mean better art.
The heart of the drama was the character of Faith herself, but I found this an overwrought performance, largely in an iconic yellow rain jacket, by Eve Myles.
These thoughts were primarily prompted by the drama series Blood just ended on TV3. Minor spoilers ahead! I had to duck all the axes being ground as agendas were served with cavalier disregard for art. And so we got mean spirited digs at the Church and at priests in particular. Gay sex was featured more strongly than heterosexual sex (the main character’s brother fell for the window cleaner), and for good measure there was a pitch made for mercy killing. Yup, all the boxes ticked! As if it wasn’t bad enough they drained out whatever little tension there was when the last episode was almost entirely taken up with a dismally slow flashback to explain away all the mystery.
Carolina Main is obviously talented and did her best as Cat, but could somebody please give her a better role. Likewise Adrian Dunbar was poorly served in his role…I may be wrong but I’d say he was longing for a return of Line of Duty or Broken. The script was turgid, the pace painful, the plot clichéd, and it was almost completely humourless, except where it was laughable.
Pick of the week
IN CONCERT: MAGNIFICAT IN C MAJOR
EWTN, Monday, November 27, 6 am
Leading Baroque conductor Tom Koopman conducts German composer Johann Kuhnau’s Magnificat in C major.
EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND
Channel 4, Monday, November 27, 7.45 am
The family meets the school counsellor and Fr Hubley to discuss the constant bickering.
HURT LOCKER HERO – STORYVILLE
BBC4, Monday, November 27, 10 pm
A documentary about the bravery of Fakhir Berwari, a Kurdish colonel in the Iraqi army and bomb disposal expert who disarmed thousands of landmines.