Thursday 18 October 2018

No place in modern Ireland for sham offence of blasphemy

On October 26, we must confirm what we have recognised for years and dump this anachronism, writes Andrea Martin

The Patrick Kavanagh statue on the Grand Canal
The Patrick Kavanagh statue on the Grand Canal

We all have our 'sacred cows' - passions and beliefs so important to us it hurts to have them treated with disrespect.

A friend working in television once filmed a comedy item for a Valentine's Day TV show. It featured a young woman writing lousy romantic verse as she sat beside the bronze figure of Patrick Kavanagh ruminating on his canal-bank seat.

Back in the office, he showed the piece to a colleague, a cultured and principled man, passionate about poetry. "You can't broadcast that," said his colleague, in horror, "It's Kavanagh!" On re-reading Kavanagh's Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, I can understand the colleague's sense of offence. But no one was in danger of being prosecuted for offending what the other held sacred.

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