Posted on April 1, 2011, in Alcoholism, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, Bishop Con Lucey, Bishop Michael Browne, Bishops' Pastorals, Cardinal John D'Alton, Catholic Action, Catholic Social Teaching, Decorum, Economics, Irish Church-State Relations, Irish History, Mass. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I wonder how the hierarchy could have described drunkenness as ‘a relatively rare occurrence’ in 1959, though their concern about drinking habits and addiction was spot on. If anything, these are both greater problems today.

    I don’t think that Life published the photo you chose in the context of the bishops’ statement but it highlights the perception so many have of Ireland, a perception that is based to some extent on reality but that distorts the overall picture. When I studied in the USA as a young priest from 1968 to 1971 there were, as I recall, two prolonged bank strikes in Ireland. CBS news in the USA on at least one occasion reported this and showed people using all kinds of pieces of paper, including cigarette packs, as cheques – and using the pub as an interim bank.

    In 1988 I was visiting friends in Amsterdam. One of them, as he showed me around the city, introduced me to a number of his friends and acquaintances that we came across. He pointed out to me that every one of them, when they heard I was from Ireland, mentioned Guinness, the IRA or both. I don’t drink and I loathe the IRA. My friend was embarrassed at the immediate connection made between Irish people, Guinness and the IRA. I find it a tiresome cliché but one we promote ourselves. More than once I have met people who presume I am pleased by their implication that I think Guinness is God’s greatest gift to the world and that I approved of what the IRA was doing during ‘The Troubles’.

    However, I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago when BBC World Service interviewed on the news on St Patrick’s in Beijing or some other Chinese city the owner of an ‘Irish’ pub who was an Irishman. He pointed out that St Patrick’s Day is basically a celebration of our Christian faith.

  2. The second-last sentence above should read ‘ . . . ‘on St Patrick’s Day in Beijing . . .’

  3. Father, first of all apologies for the delay in approving your excellent comments – I was away all day yesterday.

    The hierarchy’s bit about drunkeness being ‘a relatively rare occurrence’ in 1959 absolutely baffled me too. What planet were they on? Drinking was also a problem among many priests at that time too, particularly in rural areas (and still is among a few priests I know – not unconnected with lonliness, demoralization from the scandals and an increased workload).

    Pubs are dying in rural Ireland and the trend towards drinking at home has made the problem worse (though it does make the roads a bit safer). Drugs are a big problem among my generation. Maybe we need a new Fr Matthew?

    Sadly St Patrick’s Day has now become comprehrensively secularized – this is particularly evident at the Dublin parade.

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