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Showing posts from March, 2022

Irish Language Renaissance

  Irish Language Renaissance             Gerry OShea I recall well a moving story that Maurice Brick, author and fluent Gaelic speaker, told me many years ago. He comes from the heart of the Ballyferriter Gaeltacht in West Kerry, and he was sent to a special hospital in Dublin to get treatment for a guttural problem when he was ten years old. At the time, the only language he spoke was Irish. That was all   he heard in his home and community. However, none of the nurses or ward staff understood a word he was saying. In fact, they dealt with their unusual arrival from Kerry, talking in a strange vernacular, by giggling at his unusual speech. Being away from his family and unable to connect with those around him was a frightening situation for the youngster. However, there was a nun on the staff who realized his predicament even though she too was not competent in Irish, but she came to his bed every night to read him a story in English. He remembers well the book she brought, Robi

Catherine Corless and the Tuam Babies

  Catherine Corless and the Tuam Babies               Gerry OShea Reinhold Niebuhr was a renowned professor and author who taught in Union Theological Seminary for thirty years. He came from a strong Protestant Reformed tradition, and he is probably best remembered as the author of the Serenity Prayer, which is now primarily associated with the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy. A central theme of his teaching focuses on the knotty intersection of religion and politics. He was convinced that Christians have to be involved in public policy “to keep the strong from consuming the weak.” Catherine Corless from Tuam in County Galway epitomizes the Niebuhr philosophy. An amateur local historian, she started an investigation into a local Mother and Baby Home which she remembered from her teenage years. She knew some of the girls who lived there and attended the same local schools that she did. The Home closed in the early sixties and the area was developed as a housing estate. The Ordna

Duffy's Cut: A Story for the Ages

    Duffy’s Cut: A Story for the Ages               Gerry OShea I attended the annual commemoration of the untimely deaths in 1832 of 57 Irish laborers who worked and died at a stretch of railway track in Chester County, Pennsylvania known as Duffy’s Cut. The service took place at Laurel Hill Cemetery located in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia where a monument is erected in their memory. The ceremony was conducted by Dr. William Watson, a History professor in nearby Immaculata University, and his twin brother, Frank, a Lutheran pastor in Whiting, New Jersey. They were the driving force behind the research into the tragic happenings at Duffy’s Cut nearly two hundred years ago. After the vivacious Vincent Gallagher sang the anthems, the professor spoke, the priest prayed and they were both part of the piping tribute. Dr.William and a lady from the Donegal Society, author Marita Krivda, talked about the tragedy of the bodies of the young immigrants   dumped in an improvi

The Z Generation Talks

  The Z Generation Talks               Gerry OShea The word cynicism is derived from the Greek noun kuon meaning dog. In its modern usage it conveys a scornful attitude to life, evoking imagery of a growling canine. It is a word that is frequently used to describe the current American democratic system – jaded, floating in tribalism and unresponsive to people’s needs. Take the issue of gun control. In repeated surveys more than ninety per cent of citizens believe that somebody wishing to acquire a handgun should be licensed, which is mandated in some states but needs to apply nationally to be effective. The other sensible demand with massive public approval insists on banning the availability of assault weapons except for the military.  Who objects to these popular, reasonable requests? The National Rifle Association (NRA), a rich pro-gun lobby group, venomously opposes even minor restrictions in gun ownership, and the record shows that they have the clout in high places to get