Monday 22 July 2019

Raising a glass on Good Friday

Rory McIlroy kisses the championship trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy kisses the championship trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando. Photo: AP
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Pubs will open again on Good Friday after a 90-year-old ban on the sale of alcohol on that day was lifted. Removal of the ban was inevitable in an increasingly secular Ireland where Good Friday is a normal working day and where religious practice is now based on conviction rather than obligation.

My paternal grandfather was a publican and staunch Catholic.

At a time when business ground to a halt on Good Friday he provided a "holy hour" from 4.30pm to 7pm where regular customers were kept sweet and deterred from taking their custom elsewhere. As his brother-in-law was a Dominican priest, grandfather encouraged his regular customers to attend the Passion Ceremonies at 3pm or the Stations of the Cross at 7.30pm in the local Dominican church, with which our family has a strong affinity.

The regular customers slipped discreetly into the back of the pub by the rear entrance. Guinness was the only beverage served on Good Friday. Spirits were off the menu in deference to the day. Each drink had to be carefully nursed as there was a strict quota of two pints per male customer or two meejums (medium glass) per female customer.

When the clock struck 6pm, all present were led in a recitation of the Angelus by my grandmother, who wasn't totally comfortable with the improvised drinking arrangement. On her insistence, commerce was not conducted on Good Friday but all monies owed were duly paid up the following day.

Religious practice was very important in our house, but sometimes a few venial sins were committed to protect the business. By way of atonement, my grandfather and my father after him always made a generous "Dues" contribution at Mass on Easter Sunday morning!

Billy Ryle,


Co Kerry


Brilliant Brendan

Sir - Brendan O'Connor's observations of humankind is quite brilliant. In reading his front page article on a type of bully (Hanging with the hardmen, Sunday Independent, March 18), I found myself relating to his every word, and much of which I experienced in my lifetime. I quote: "Bullies come in many forms. One of the most insidious bullies is the guy who keeps asserting you are friends." How many of us have met them?

Brian McDevitt,


Co Donegal


Belief of greatness instilled

Sir - In a week that brought exceptional success for Irish sport, beginning with the victories of our horses, jockeys and trainers at Cheltenham, followed by the Irish rugby team's Grand Slam and topped off by Rory McIlroy's success in the Arnold Palmer event, I would like to thank all of our Irish sports people for keeping our spirits up throughout our long dark days of recession.

They were the men and women who kept our hopes alive while the Troika were in charge. These men and women were excelling on the world stage when our nation was struggling to survive. So, thank you one and all, our rugby and football teams, our boxers and our rowers, our golfers and our Paralympians, for the thrills and the joy you brought us over the past 10 years. Not alone did you provide the highlights of our lives, but you instilled in us the belief that Ireland could be great again.

James Harnett,


Co Limerick


Let’s keep protecting mums and babies

Sir - In response to Louise Glavey (Letters, Sunday Independent, March 18) I think I have heard it all now. As a child growing up on a farm I was familiar with females being referred to the bovine species -a girl, a heifer; a woman, a cow.

Ms Glavey has taken it to a new level when she compares a vet ending the life of an unborn calf to a mother deciding to end the life of her unborn baby. Is there really no difference? That being the case why not send our old folk off to be slaughtered for dog food... I believe there is something fundamentally wrong in this thinking...

Women with crisis pregnancies need to be supported in every way, firstly by the father of the child (who gets very little mention), then family, and finally community.

Abortion is not healthcare, there is no "caring" in abortion clinics where women/young girls are just numbers, they pay the money, have the "procedure" and are sent on their way with no follow up for their physical or mental wellbeing.

What does Mr Farmer do with the aborted calf? What becomes of the aborted babies? Will they be buried in a nice grave? I can guarantee you they will not be forgotten. When a woman becomes pregnant there is a third person who deserves consideration and a right to life. The Eighth Amendment protects both equally, let us keep it.

Geraldine Fagan,

Dublin 20


100,000 reasons to say no to repeal

Sir - Louise Glavey (Letters , Sunday Independent, March 18) compares women experiencing a crisis pregnancy to cattle.

She does this in the context of arguing for change in the constitution. I'm not sure I have to actually do anything to challenge her claim that suggests cattle have more rights than women.

She trivialises crisis pregnancy and the experience of so many women who took the time between realising that they had an unplanned pregnancy to understand the humanity of their child and chose life.

One group has estimated that the Eighth Amendment has saved over 100,000 lives, based on an independent report. In any other context, this would be a cause for celebration. It is definitely reason enough to vote No to abortion on demand.

Theresa Johnston,



Choice is great - use your vote

Sir - As a Donegal woman living in Brussels, I was mortified to hear the name of one of our county's elected representatives listed among the 32 TDs who chose to vote against the holding of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment. Now, don't get me wrong, Pat the Cope's views on access to abortion are not news to me. But I now realise that he appears to be anti-choice in every circumstance.

Not only is he opposed to people exercising choice over when they'd like to start a family, he and the other 31 TDs who voted 'No' are also opposed to the electorate having a choice in a referendum, full stop.

In fact, the only choice that these TDs seem to be in favour of is the one that the electorate gets to make during a general election. When their jobs are on the line, choice is great! When people's health and lives are on the line? Not so much.

The Eighth Amendment needs to go if we want to make Ireland a safe and supportive place for people who are pregnant. I heartily support the Home to Vote initiative - if you are entitled to cast a ballot and can afford to travel home to make your voice heard, please do. I'd also encourage the voters to remember how the vote on March 21 went... and how much choice some of our TDs really want us to have!

Emma Cassidy,



Grand triumph

Sir - Huge congratulations to the Irish Rugby team. Winners of Triple Crown, Six Nations and a Grand Slam. Now ranked second in the world. We did it with players from the four provinces and could not have done it otherwise in this sport.

Ken Maher,

Kilcoole, Co Wicklow


Brexit is a cover-up for UK’s war on EU

Sir — Colm McCarthy (Sunday Independent, March 18) highlighted the London media justification of what he calls the “complacency” and “foot-dragging” by the UK in the Brexit negotiations.

That includes a London media narrative to the effect that, despite wanting to maintain free movement, “the UK has been unfairly expelled from the EU against its wishes” and that it is being “bullied” by the EU.

All of this ignores the fact that the London media also says that the people of the UK voted to leave the EU customs union and single market. It could hardly be said that the 87pc of the Brexit vote that were English were being bullied.

What can be said is that the anti-EU Brexit vote followed what Colm McCarthy described as “decades” of “peddling” anti-EU propaganda by much of the London media.

If one reads the London media and the internet media discussions at the present time, like Colm McCarty, one could be forgiven for believing that the objective of many of the Brexiteers is “a chaotic crash-out”.

It is also not hard to come to the conclusion that the complacency and foot-dragging that is Brexit is a cover-up for a declaration of economic war on the democracies of the EU, including this democratic republic and former colony.

A Leavy,


Dublin 13


Pagans brought fear and suffering

Sir — I refer to Fiona O’Connell (Lay of the land, Sunday Independent, March 18), and her mistaken view of paganism and Christianity in Ireland. When Saint Patrick came to Ireland, people were wallowing in paganism and were powerless under the tyranny of the chieftains and Druids. The Druids practiced sorcery, making animal and human sacrifices to win favour with their gods, keeping people in fear of displeasing them. So people “protected” themselves by wearing lucky charms and other superstitious practices.

Paganism brought oppression, fear, superstition and witchcraft and this is why the Irish people were so open to hearing Patrick’s message about the Good News of the Christian God. The snakes often referred to were demonic forces, not physical snakes.

Patrick demonstrated the power and love of God and through the power of the Holy Spirit, set the country free from the demonic Druids and healed those who were suffering and in pain. When Ireland converted to Christianity, the country blossomed and enjoyed a golden age in trade, art, literature, and education, and became the land of saints. Scholars from all over Europe came to study here. Pagan Ireland was fear and superstition, while Christian Ireland was freedom and prosperity.

God never brought suffering to this land. His Word says to, “Love one another as I have loved you” and “Treat others as you would have them treat you”. The reasons why there has been so much suffering goes beyond the scope of this letter, however.

Oppression from invaders was a major contribution, as well as bad decisions made by our government and the abuse of power by the Catholic Church. Some evil was done in the name of Christianity, but that was never God’s desire. He loves us and longs to heal the pain of the past. We should turn to Him, like Patrick did in his suffering.

Down the generations, so many Irish people, like Patrick, have encountered God and testified to His goodness and love. On The Ray Darcy Show, Shane Lynch shared how Jesus changed his life bringing freedom from the occult and peace into his life. Katie Taylor shares how God is always with her and how she loves Jesus, as has Bono. There are many others in Ireland who can share how their lives were transformed by the God of Christianity. We pray that Ireland will again come to know Jesus as Patrick and his flock did.

Olivia McGreal,


Co Mayo


Don’t blame God for the killing

Sir — Regarding the article “Let’s hear it for the pagans, not Saint Patrick” by Fiona O’Connell, (Lay of the land, Sunday Independent, March 18), I make the following points:

She claims that he is credited with driving out creatures that were not here anyway, the snakes. In fact this refers to his leading a raid on the centre of Baal worship whose symbol was the snake and driving the worshippers out of Ireland.

Baal was a most cruel pagan god, demanding child sacrifice — far from the “harmless and healthy” gods imagined by Ms O’Connell. One hopes the Irish version of Baal worship was far removed from that practised by the Phoenicians who sought to corrupt their neighbours, the Israelites in Palestine, as made clear in the Old Testament. Jezebel was a Baal worshipper.

Nowhere in his writings does Patrick state that the land of his birth was Scotland or Ireland. The most likely place for his capture by the slave traders was Boulogne in northern France.

However, I accept that the worship of the God she denounces has indeed too often inspired killing rather than kindness.

This is what is liable to happen when those with the craving for power and money use religion to further their ends. As Gandhi once said when asked what he thought of Christianity, “It sounds like a good idea. It should be tried.”

The question should not only be: did his religion harm Ireland, but did St Patrick introduce the original New Testament version of Christianity or an updated version promoting celibacy?

Alistair McFarlane,



Saving pagans

Sir — Fiona O’Connell in her article (Lay of the Land, “Let’s hear it for the pagans, not for Saint Patrick”, Sunday Independent, March 18) shows a remarkable ignorance of Christianity and the achievements of Patrick not to mention the sacrifice of Jesus who died and rose again so that even pagans might be saved, should they choose to believe in the one true God.

Donal Buckley,

Castlebar, Co Mayo


So disgusted by Gerry Adams Day

Sir — The New York Mayor Bill de Blasio named St Patrick’s Day 2018 in New York as “Gerry Adams Day”. How disgusting that this great Irish celebration should be named after one of the leaders of a terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of thousands in a 30 year-reign of mayhem and murder.

Leo Varadkar should have refused to march in the parade in protest at this insult to all decent people in Ireland.

Raymond Kernan,


Co Monaghan


What next after death of Sudan?

Sir — RIP Sudan, last male northern white rhino. Your persecution at the hands of unscrupulous poachers is over.  Your death is testament to the greed of man, a greed that fed the insatiable appetite of around a billion people in South East Asia, people who believe that ground-down rhino horn is a cure for cancer.

You might as well grind down your toe nail clippings, as

basically it’s the same thing.

At the turn of the 19th Century, there were around half a million white rhinos roaming the continents of Africa and India. A few fell victim to man’s blood lust and were shot by wealthy trophy hunters.

Who would have believed that in 100 or so years, these rhinos would be about to vanish from the face of the earth?

Ironically, in his last few months, Sudan had his own private minders, a group of soldiers with machine guns that never let him out of their sight.

Now all that remains is to figure out who is next. Tigers: only a handful left. Gorillas: a few remain in mountainous regions of Africa. Elephants: their natural habitats fast falling victim to man’s cultivation of vast tracts of land, building homes and planting food to sustain even higher population growth. This leads to the inevitable question: when will it be our turn?

Mike Burke,


Co Clare

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss