Monday 22 May 2017

Being an Irish celebrity can be dangerous, warns bishop

Dearbhail McDonald, the Irish Independent Legal Affairs Correspondent, speaking at the 'Tracking The Tiger' conference in the West County Hotel, Ennis yesterday
Dearbhail McDonald, the Irish Independent Legal Affairs Correspondent, speaking at the 'Tracking The Tiger' conference in the West County Hotel, Ennis yesterday

Senan Hogan and Gordon Deegan

A society which worships celebrities may end up destroying itself, a Catholic Bishop told a conference in Co Clare yesterday.

Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray said becoming a famous personality in modern Ireland was dangerous.

"There is nothing wrong with popularity, but becoming a celebrity is dangerous. Celebrities can be built up to an impossibly inflated position before we turn on them with an equally inflated hostility. When this happens, one can only hope that the people involved -- whether pop stars or football managers or 'personalities' of any kind -- have understood that there is more to life than this," he told the conference.

"A society which lives for celebrity will destroy not only its celebrities, but itself," he said.

The senior cleric was speaking on the subject of Religion and the Secular in Contemporary Ireland at the 10th annual Ceifin conference which opened yesterday in Ennis.

The event, entitled: Tracking the Tiger -- A Decade of Change, featured several guest speakers, including outgoing Northern Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan, Garda Chief Inspector Kathleen O'Toole and Irish Independent Legal Affairs Correspondent Dearbhail McDonald.

The Ceifin organisation has charity status and runs publications and seminars aimed at encouraging debate for change in Irish society.

Dr Murray continued: "Our affluent society has certainly forgotten something. We know how, a few hundred yards from comfortable affluence, decent people live surrounded by burnt-out houses, burnt-out cars, intimidation, poverty, unemployment, violence and drugs."

Speaking about 'religion-free zones' in modern Irish society, Dr Murray said: "Soap operas, for instance, are largely religion free.

"Nobody talks about God and, since the departure of 'Glenroe', nobody goes to Church," the bishop went on. "I suppose you could make an exception for 'The Simpsons'.

"A great deal of modern life proceeds as if the question of faith did not matter. We have passed from a society where faith and public manifestations of faith were the norm, to a society which is, at best, embarrassed by any public visibility of faith. Our world seems increasingly marked by what has been called 'tranquil apostasy'."

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