Letters to the Editor: 'Consider a natural burial'
Sir - I am 72, a writer and an ex-seminarian. In the seminary I attended between 1971 and 1974 the priests never discussed trees, animals, meat, hunting, cruelty. There was a schizoid attitude towards worldly things, as if God didn't care about His creation, only the afterlife - even if Christ's own symbols were the lamb and the dove.
Nowadays, however, young people are concerned about the environment and understand that trees are the lungs of the planet, giving fresh air and visual beauty, and homes for animals.
And there is no Planet B, this is all we've got, so conversation is essential.
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An example is… coffins! Millions of trees are destroyed in making coffins - a one-day wonder, never to be seen again!
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.
At the end of our days, it's just an expensive, polished oak coffin - there for no other reason than to impress the neighbours for one day, and then be consigned to oblivion!
Remember, man, thou art clay and to clay thou shalt return... except that coffins, being almost non-biodegradable, prevent the natural, sanitary decomposition of the bodies to clay!
Surely a body-bag is sufficient and more appropriate for a speedy and hygienic decay - "dust to dust, clay to clay"?
And you're helping to save Planet A, and breathe fresh air, glorious!
So this is what I have, ordered with my undertaker: a natural burial, earth to earth; no ostentatious show or extravagance. A single, universal oak coffin can be used to the graveside - and the body then lowered to rest in the grave in a body-bag. A sheet of straw may be used as a cover for in-filling of soil, if desired. The one-for-all universal coffin is satin/silk-lined and can be disinfected after each use. Beautiful, simple, humble, ecological.
Let church and State universally and immediately adopt this ready, simple, sanitary, biodegradable expedient - and help save the trees, Mother Earth and Planet A. Amen.
Never mind UK, our Dail hardly sits at all
Sir — I’ve been reading a lot about the ‘prorogation’ of the UK parliament. But despite all the talk by Irish politicians and media, nobody seems to regard the extended periods of ‘non-sitting days’ by the well-paid politicians elected to the Oireachtas — compared to their counterparts on that other island — as a sort of Irish prorogation.
According to information from various sources, including government websites, Dail Eireann sat for 106 days in 2018 — while Westminster sat for 155 days in the same year. (The Seanad sat for only 98 days in 2018, but never mind them). The average in the UK is around 150 days annually.
If the Dail was to prorogate to the same degree as their UK counterparts, it would hardly be worth travelling to their place of employment. They currently sit just three days per week when not on holiday.
Granted the TDs claim that outside of the Oireachtas they attend to constituency work — but so do politicians in other parliaments that have to sit for 50pc more days per annum.
Midleton, Co Cork
We’ll end up with only vegetables
Sir — I’m a farmer and I’ve something to say about vegan extremists and their views on country life. If they have their way you will be driving along country roads with not a farm animal in sight. Just vegetables. But growing veg also has a large carbon footprint.
Will they then switch their attention to family pets or to the damage humans are doing to the planet. We break wind and set fires. Will the eradication of humans be next on their agenda?
Farmers give life every spring and ensure animals are cared for every day. We protect and preserve the countryside for the next generation. A number of cows on my farm were 12 years old before they died — the human equivalent is 58.
My cow supplied the basis for many good products in her lifetime — baby formula, ice cream, yoghurt, milk and more. She also gave birth to at least 10 calves, some going on to milk in the herd for many years.
Humans need to be fed — and farmers produce healthy and nutritious products every day. We have done that for thousands of years. Emissions are a by-product of feeding humans and the only way to protect us from them is to carbon offset.
Rathgormack, Co Waterford
It is a social duty to provide homes
Sir — Gene Kerrigan in his soapbox column (Sunday Independent, September 8) said it clearly and concisely: “Housing too vital to leave to the market.”
Most interesting was the statistic on the proportion of housing built by local authorities 40 years ago, at almost 33pc, to only 4pc in 2015. The mention of city architect Herbie Simms and politicians of the 1930s and 1940s seeing a duty to house people was crucial.
Kerrigan reminded us of over 10,300 people homeless with close to 40pc of these being children. Over 90pc of our homeless came originally from a stable home. This shameful situation must be treated with the importance that is required. Otherwise, as Gene K says: “Social damage is inevitable, a political explosion is possible.”
Kilcoole, Co Wicklow
What happens when foals fail?
Sir — Greyhound racing has been the subject of unfavourable publicity in recent weeks. Yet, research by Emmeline Hill, Professor of Equine Science, and her team at UCD, has revealed that “Fewer than half of the thoroughbred foals born ever reach the race track, with durability, or the ability of the horse to withstand the rigours of a training regime seen as critical factors in their careers”.
This information was contained in an article in a recent farming supplement. Surely it should be highlighted because it begs the question: What happens to all these rejected thoroughbreds?
Glasnevin, Dublin 9
Keep up the good work, Joe Brolly
Sir — I attended the first All-Ireland final two weeks ago on what was a wonderful occasion. I must have been in the right place at the right time. I found myself rubbing shoulders with the greats of the GAA world — Brian Mullins, Jack O’Shea, Bernard Brogan, the Gooch... and the outspoken Joe Brolly.
Brolly took time to meet and greet GAA men like myself at the entrance to Croke Park. Later in the week, Joe was criticised for half-time comments about the referee (since cleared up).
These great GAA players have an insight into the game. They have played for their counties, and have put the ball in the net. That’s why they are employed by RTE to cast their opinions... until they’re no longer needed.
Joe, keep up the wonderful work. You’re only a number at the end of the day, it seems.
Bailieboro, Co Cavan
Sport and alcohol shouldn’t be mixed
Sir — Gaelic football is my game of choice, but I enjoy most sports. I get a buzz from individual and team achievement by Irish sports people. Indeed, the outstanding victory by our gallant ladies’ team in the All-Ireland Premier Junior Camogie final last Sunday brought great joy to Kerry. Likewise, my best wishes go to the Irish rugby and soccer teams.
No less a man than the great Brian O’Driscoll backs the Irish rugby team for World Cup glory. What a pity one of Ireland’s greatest rugby players was holding a pint of Guinness when he made that prediction. Perhaps that was because Brian was announcing Guinness as “the official sponsors of belief” in the rugby team.
Great efforts are being made to break the link between sport and alcohol, and sports personalities can lead the way. The rugby supporters who will watch the games don’t need Guinness to stoke their belief in their team. Irish people have always been passionate about sport. The vast majority of those who supported Dublin or Kerry in Croke Park were alcohol-free — but, my God, did we believe in our team.
Incidentally, since Brian O’Driscoll was such a skilful ball player, I believe he would have been a superstar of the Dubs had he concentrated on Gaelic football. He could have had four or five All-Ireland medals by now — and he would never again have to put his hand in his pocket to pay for a pint of Guinness.
Spa, Tralee, Co Kerry
Keep this ban on netting of hares
Sir — As the official opening of the hare coursing season (the last week of September) approaches, coursing clubs are clamouring for a reversal of the ban on netting hares. They need to capture the animals so pairs of greyhounds can be set on them and rip them apart — for sport. The ban was imposed by Culture Minister Josepha Madigan in August following confirmed outbreaks in Ireland of RHD2, fatal to hares and rabbits.
RHD2 is highly contagious and the minister’s department’s has already acknowledged if it spreads among the hare population the result would be “catastrophic”.
The coursing clubs insist if they are permitted to resume netting they will vaccinate the animals. They allude to an RHD2 vaccine licensed in Europe called ‘Eravac’. Yet this vaccine is not commercially available in Ireland, and has not yet been tested on any species of hare.
Given these sobering facts, I hope Ms Madigan will maintain the ban on hare netting — even in the knowledge this would effectively close down the entire hare coursing “industry” in Ireland, including the three-day so-called showpiece National Coursing event.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Pioneering earl was man ahead of his time
Sir — After reading Liam Collins’s article in the Sunday Independent of August 18 I was prompted to re-read the autobiography of John Godley Living like A Lord once again.
Published in 1955, five years after he inherited his father’s title and became the third Baron Kilbracken, the book was an attempt to raise funds to help restore the family house at Killegar, Co Leitrim. The book sold for 16 shillings, of which one shilling and 5p was returned to the author.
In the book, he records the fact that as his lands were held freehold, he was not eligible for the Government-sponsored Land Reclamation Project of the day. Still, he continued to try to improve them himself, “without owing one penny to the Irish State”.
Liam Collins’s reference to him as the “unlikely grandfather of the Irish green movement” is further exemplified by something he wrote in this book, all of 74 years ago.
“There is a consolation: I have become devoted to the principle of organic farming and do not allow a bag of artificial manure on the place. Instead I use farmyard manure and a hundred or two tons of compost a year which I make myself. Lime, of course is neither artificial nor a manure, and I buy as much as I can afford.”
A man ahead of his time.
Killegar is still occupied by the Godley family. Their recent Woodland Show was a huge success, with more than 3,400 people attending. Hopefully it will become an annual event.
Perhaps the day has dawned when the ecological contribution of the 3rd earl will be appreciated by the people of his adopted country.
George R Knight,
The Diamond, Clones,
Stars not to blame for RTE’s woes
Sir — It’s too easy to lay the blame for RTE’s problems on the broadcasters alone. Even if all of the top 10 paid broadcasters on RTE were to work for nothing it wouldn’t put a dent in the shortfall of €50m needed to keep the station going.
If the boss of RTE is serious about sorting out her financial issues, she would also need to slash the salaries of her huge staff numbers, particularly the large numbers of managers and administrators.
Our Constitution a vital safeguard
Sir — Last week in the Sunday Independent, I read one of your columnists say: “The British don’t need lectures from champions of a Constitution written in secret in 1937 by priests and civil servants. We banned divorce until 1995. We only legislated for abortion last year — nearly 50 years after Roy Jenkins liberalised the UK law.”
One could argue that Ireland’s Constitution is a remarkable document, safeguarding human and religious rights, written at a time when many nations in Europe were marching to a fascist drum and stripping citizens of their rights.
Of course, it is a document of its time — but it is not set in stone, it is malleable and can be changed and updated by the Irish voting populace by referenda. That these changes take time is not always a bad thing. As to the liberalising of abortion laws in Great Britain more than 50 years ago, the fact that since abortion was legalised in Great Britain that an estimated nine million babies have been killed is hardly something to champion or crow about. This is not progress, this is an appalling tragedy. The architect of the 1967 Abortion Act and the man who introduced the bill, David Steel, is on record as voicing his regret at the startling figures for abortion.
Most abortions carried out daily in Great Britain today are for social reasons.
Old Bawn, Tallaght, Dublin