Memories of Catholic Ireland

Discussion in 'Ireland' started by Roger Buck, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. Roger Buck

    Roger Buck Angels

    I am deeply grateful for this new subforum. I have much to say/ask/raise - but will begin with this.

    I want ask those of you who remember the old Ireland before massive secularisation to share with us. And I would be particularly interested to hear from any who remember Irish culture from the 1960s or before - prior to the new Mass in English.

    I am haunted by this time, this culture - the likes of which Americans like myself can hardly imagine.

    I will try to explain this by pasting in something from my blog which is relevant:

    "It was not till I went to live in Ireland that I began to really understand how the Mystical Body of Christ could work to redeem not simply individuals, but also how It could work to redeem all of culture …

    For when I went to live there, I encountered living memory of a culture, which had been very markedly different from the Anglosphere beyond her shores.

    At least, living memory in Ireland included a culture radically different from the England and America which had reared me.

    In other words, in Ireland, people still remembered – and frequently deeply mourned – the integral Catholic culture which they had known in their youth.

    This integral Catholic culture – something of it can be glimpsed from a national survey of the Irish Republic from as late as 1973-1974. That survey found that over ninety per cent of Catholics went to Mass weekly and nearly forty seven per cent went to confession once a month, whereas ninety seven per cent prayed daily. Seventy five per cent of those surveyed put up holy pictures or statues.

    Furthermore, around a quarter of the population went to Mass more than once a week and a similar proportion went to confession once a week or more!*

    Cynics have tried to paint this extraordinary religiosity as largely social control in a culture where Church and State were closely linked. According to such cynicism, Irish Catholics did what they were expected to by a rigid, hierarchical society. What this cynicism easily misses is how much Irish religiosity exceeded the expectations of the Church.

    For example, the Church expects yearly confession of us – not more. The Church certainly does not expect weekly confession. And yet twenty nine per cent of the Irish population went weekly or more.

    The Church imposes no obligation to put up holy images or statues. Yet seventy five per cent of the population said they did.

    I arrived in Ireland in 2004, thirty years after the survey. Things had changed markedly by then. But what I saw still startled me …"​

    In other words, my Irish friends, what I saw in 2004 BLEW ME AWAY ... Never seen anything like it - the piety, the sense of community that still existed ...

    This was in rural Co. Clare where some of the old Catholic culture was maybe still barely hanging on.

    But everyone told me in 2004 that I had seen nothing, really. Catholic culture in Ireland had vanished by the 1990s when Mary Kenny wrote Goodbye to Catholic Ireland.

    I would love to hear what it was like. Moreover, I think it is important that Catholics record their memories.

    Otherwise, all the next generations will have left are the lies of a secular media ....
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
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  2. padraig

    padraig New Member

    I have one very vivid memory of the winter of 1962/63 when the weather was horrendous. There was four to five foot of snow lying in Belfast. I was seven or eight years old. My grandmother wore a blanket as a shawl and we walked for daily mass to St Peters pro Cathedral. I remember the masses so many seats taken a large crowd had no seats even with the balcony open . Many, many masses every Sunday ,very long queques for confession. Every house you visited full of Holy Pictures. Many Catholic devotions such as Benediction the rosary and so on...

    However I am not blinkered there was a great deal of evil going on which we never even knew about, let alone faced up too. A huge undercurrent of religious child abuse and lay child abuse and cruelty to such an extent it was endemic. Most people did not even know what homosexuality and paedophila was. So how could we fight it?

    Also there was a huge arrogance and lack of insight especially I think amongst the parish clergy. The lay folk had no role but to do as they were told.

    Must rush to mass...:)
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  3. Roger Buck

    Roger Buck Angels

    Quickly, too, thank you so much Padraig for your response and recollection. I am moved by this: Every house testifying to the Holy. SO different to the America I grew up in!

    On the subject of this endemic evil, I wonder (???) if there should be a separate thread. I might start one.

    That is if people have MEMORIES of being abused here that might be best placed here. But if its the work of analysing this endemic evil perhaps that is best elsewhere (?).

    Bumbling ... I am not sure how to do this.

    Anyway, I am very grateful for your memories and might start another thread on the scandals for analysis of that ...
  4. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Memories of the good, means memories of the evil too I think.:)

    I think looking back on it we were in sense a very arrogant and self satisfied lot living on the riches of a great spiritual past. Living on the fat of the land so to speak. We had the enormous graces of the blood of the martyrs during the penal times and when Ireland got her freedom and the Penal Laws were relaxed Ireland surged forward like a racehorse that had been locked up for years...

    The apex was maybe the Eucharistic Congress of 1932 when pretty well most of the country fell to her knees. But ...well its a bit like looking as a huge marvellous white Palace , it looks wonderful from the outside but look a little closer you termites chomping inside it, come back in a few more years the whole lot has collapsed.

    The late Cardinal O'Fiach said it best, he said Ireland is loyal and faithful because she is poor and uneducated, give her money and college education and watch what happens.

    Boy did he get it right.

    I am not dismayed by any of this, we are sinful people like any others. But I admit I would have loved to have attended the Eucharistic Congress of 32 to see the Irish high Tide of Catholicism.

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  5. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Another thing I did not like looking back was that although the riches of the Church came from the poorest people the working people , it was the rich and powerful the Church powers tended to back, still do in fact.

    The true Christian is sent, 'To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable', something I am afraid since the end of persecution has not been the case of the Church in Ireland; the Hierarchy in fact . Their mission appeared to be to make themselves comfortable. :Dvery,very comfortable. How many priests for instance died in the Irish Famine? How many Bishops? How many of our Bishops still live in Palaces?

    Pope Francis, bless him, is trying to change this.
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  6. garabandal

    garabandal Powers

    Secularisation has been occuring from the so called Enlightenment and Protestant Reformation.

    It is now reaching its zenith. Modern civilization has been attracted to the luciferian light for a long time and 'modern' man in his pride is drawn to it like a bee to honey.

    I am always amazed at the true resonance of the Garden of Eve story. It is no primeval myth but an iconic reminder that we are dealing with metaphysical realities.

    Our Lady who is all humility is the antidote to the secular poison.

    Today at Mass I was given a realisation that she is the 'window to Christ'.
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  7. maryrose

    maryrose Powers

    I like you padraig was never aware of the hidden evils when I was growing up. I do remember the devotion and not being able to find a seat in the church. I think there is much to study on what changed everything. There was immense poverty and a great class division between those who owned land and those who didnt. So many of the landless had to emigrate and that was how it was. The 2nd sons of the farmers often went to the seminary and that I think set us up for a comfortable clergy. Then we had the worry of 'what would the neighbours think'. This mentality led to pushing everything under the carpet and many girls who had babies outside of marriage having to leave the country or go into hiding until the event was over and the baby adopted. We like to blame the church for these cruelties but if we are honest that is how Irish people thought about things and they had no problem with these cruel attitudes. I would not like to go back to a time when people who didnt tick all the boxes had to hide from public disgrace. Every generation makes a mess and the next one has to clean it up. Neverthless I do really believe that the seeds of faith are still here.
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  8. Roger Buck

    Roger Buck Angels

    Mary - I think it is very good that you recall these dark sides of Catholic Ireland. I _need_ to see these - as I cannot help but feel almost nothing but love for that world I never knew and which seems to me so much more filled with piety, a community spirit and simply God than my own childhood growing in a America that often seems plastic and soulless to me in comparison.

    So yes, good to hear this darkness.

    At the same time, I really wonder if today's generation really does have less narrow-minded attitudes - or "cruel attitudes" as you put it.

    For example you speak of ostracisation in the past for not "ticking all the boxes" ...

    But in today's society one is ostracised for not "ticking all the boxes" - i.e. I am a fascist and a homophobe if I believe there might anything in the slightest wrong with gay "marriage" ...
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  9. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Mostly Mary I remember it for the great darkness in my own soul. I went to mass and communion every day, confession every week, constantly loved to read the lives of the saints, had a huge devotion to Our Lady and loved to call in to Churches to pray and had a superb and saintly Spiritual Director.

    So outside I ticked all the boxes. Inside I was arrogant and full of pride, superficial, nasty, snide, bitter, full of hate and anger and untolerable to be anywhere near. :eek:

    To an extreme extent I suppose I represented some of what those full Churches often represented, glowing white marble on the outside, mouldy old bones on the inside. I suppose the Holy Spirit lived in me, but poor Holy Spirit He was a very small guttering little candle nearly being blown out by the winds of my bitterness and selfishness.

    Now the Churches are nearly empty compared to back then, but I am often left gasping by the holiness of the people I see there. This was rarely the case back then.

    My father too was so much a product of that generation , a very devout Catholic who totally ticked all the boxes. I doubt for instance if he ever told a lie, or was dishonest in the smallest way. If he was I never knew it. He was a Catholics Catholic and loved the Church with a passion.

    But inside I think he had a very harsh view of God. For him too I think the flame inside was small and inclined to gutter.

    After my conversion I tired to talk to him of love; but he was always baffled.

    However when he got cancer ,shortly before he died he rushed up to me in the street excited and happy , he said , 'I know now what you mean by love , I always thought you were crazy! But yes, yes, yes I can see now it is all about love!'

    So in a sense the old generation had to die , his from cancer mine from despair before we could each of us be reborn in our own Road to Damascus, our walk with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus.

    S in a real sense it does not matter so much the Times in which we live, what really counts is how brightly the flame of Love, the Fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts.

  10. SteveD

    SteveD Guest

    My uncle lived in Dublin at the time of the 1932 Eucharistic Congress. He was an Alexian brother and told me that almost everyone in the City, indeed the country, was involved and that there were crowds , Papal flags and bunting everywhere with vast crowds praying and adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

    He was embarrassed by a women who took him for a priest in the street and asked for a blessing. He explained that he was a brother, but she insisted and wouldn't let go of his sleeve. He agreed to pray for her (he meant sometime in the future but she knelt down in front of him in the street still clinging to his sleeve). He closed his eyes and prayed (also praying that his superior wasn't anywhere nearby watching him). He finished, opened his eyes and saw a queue of about 50 people on their knees all awaiting his 'blessing'. He fled.

    And here what's happening now. Adult Irish 'Catholics' who don't know the 'Hail Mary'.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2014
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  11. padraig

    padraig New Member

    What a lovely story, Steve. Now I suppose there would be a queque of fifty to throw him off O'Connell Bridge.
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  12. SteveD

    SteveD Guest

    In contrast, a friend of mine was behind a young priest, in a stalled queue at 'check in' at Dublin Airport. My friend, a very good Catholic, thought 'Well I'm doing nothing, the priest is doing nothing, I'll ask for a blessing'. He tapped the priest on the shoulder and asked him for a blessing and knelt down. The priest blushing purple leant down to him and whispered, 'Please don't do this to me'. My friend just smiled and looked at the priest for a second or two still on his knees, indicating that he wasn't getting up until he received the blessing, the priest gave him a very quick blessing and turned quickly away.
    That priests might be ashamed of their powers is very worrying.
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  13. maryrose

    maryrose Powers

    One of the things that has changed is that our clergy are not courageous about speaking the truth with love. I think the catholic church in Ireland is really in schism. Many of the 'old school' priests who insist on preaching the 10 commandments are sidelined. The fact that all the politicians who voted for abortion are allowed to carry on as normal attending communion is a sign of the failure of the church to stand up for the truth. When I go to places like Knock I do see tremendous faith and holiness. I think the strength of Ireland is that we still have strong communities and families even when they are badly fractured. I hope and pray that these strengths will pull us through. This community spirit is very evident now with the recent devastating storms and floodings. Everbody rises to the occasion to help those affected.
    Our lady keeps requesting us to pray for our priests. She has said we cant do it without them, so we really do need to pray constantly for them.
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  14. Roger Buck

    Roger Buck Angels

    Would like to keep this thread alive … and hear from more of you, if there is more to say. As I can't really contribute much myself, as I don't have the memories …

    That last being said, I recently published a long intensive post at my site, which quotes Mary Kenny extensively about what Catholic Ireland truly was, underneath all the media propaganda.

    Forgive me if it seems like I'm "spamming" my site - but I include a link here, because I think what Mary Kenny is saying so very, very important.

    Mary Kenny on Catholic Ireland

    If any of you look, I would be interested/grateful to hear your thoughts ...
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  15. Katfalls

    Katfalls Powers

    Did I Meet an angel in Ireland . . .my ancestors were famine Irish, emigrating to the U.S. In the mid 1800's. My Dad was raised in a Catholic orphanage in upstate N.Y. and life was tough. But I am so thankful that he instilled in us our Catholic faith and my mother converted and my six siblings and I grew up with wanting to know more about our Irish heritage. In 1998 one of my sisters and I made the trip to Ireland and tried to decide what we wanted to see . . .on the map was Crough Patrick so we drove there to check it out. Mind you, this was the end of March and it was a very chilly day. At the base of the mountain was a little old lady with a walking stick in her hand and I sized her up and the mountain and asked "you're not going to the top are you?" I was about 50 then and wondering if I could make it. She answered, "yes dear, you go to the top for penance". I laughed a bit, and said where I come from we actually don't hike we ride elevators or lifts . . .and to walk it, well, for penance? I didn't think I was that bad haha. So we all had our chuckle and started up. She did seem quite spry and after awhile she disappeared. My sister and I trekked on but did not get to the top because a thick fog rolled in and we couldn't see our hand in front of our face, but I felt we were pretty near. We never saw the old woman, not even when we got to the bottom. I must admit, there is more spirituality here at home than what I found in Ireland. I went to Knock for Easter, and when getting a seat they do not slide over, they make you crawl over them to get a spot. And they seem in a rush to get out as soon as Mass is over and dash to the pub for a drink. But Ireland is so beautiful and conducive to a contemplative life that I could easily live there if the cost of living was not so high. I really liked that they prayed the Our Father in Irish, I wish I could speak it. Someday perhaps I can make it back there. I loved the people, they are happy and friendly and very quick witted. And they look like my relatives . . .
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  16. josephite

    josephite Powers

    It is a real shame that when a great collection and culture of people, who were so devout and doing their best to live holy lives were undermined by those in power it seems. That being the bishops and many priests.

    This is the shame of it that the sheep and the lambs were not fed as they were commissioned to be fed by Our Lord. It seems power had corrupted those in power and with this power, they also fell into other sins and saw themselves as better or more entitled, greater evils entered them and child abuse became endemic.

    So too in the Catholic Australia of my youth. Many poor and unassuming people went to mass daily and confession weekly but the corruption [for want of a better word] in different religious orders, that taught at the catholic schools and ran the orphanages always backed the rich and powerful families, turning a blind eye to bullying and even
    cultivating a spirit of exclusiveness and rights according to how powerful, influential or wealthy the parents were.

    There was a real class devide that filtered down even to the children that attended the catholic schools. You could say bullying and exclusion was church backed.

    And so many catholics left the church during the 70's, 80's and 90's as they were becoming more educated and better equipped to stand up for their rights and dignity and to the obvious double standards exhibited by many of the Hierarchy.
    The pasters of the flock were not feeding their sheep and religous orders for what ever reasons were not being Christian to many children. The child abuse scandles have rocked the Catholic church here in Australia. I can not understand how so many priests, brothers and nuns were able to get away with so much for so long. Or how they could be so evil.

    I have no answers.

    I love my catholic faith.

    But I dare not judge another who left the faith because they were phsically abused by nuns or sexually assaulted by brothers or priests.

    It is sad and a terrible indictment for the hierarchy of the time. This is one reason Our Lady has constantly asked for prayers for those consecrated to God.
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  17. josephite

    josephite Powers

    I have had a hard time trying to understand the ('Lady of All Nations' ), alledged 56 messages of Our Lady to Ida Peerdeman, in Amsterdam from 1945 to 1959.
    I read the first 22 messages and to me it just dosen't ring true. Our Lady speaks of the Church needing to become more modern and many other things I find hard to comprehend. On one hand she seems to be asking for the bishops and the clergy to become more devout and then more modern?

    In light of the above discussion regarding the abuses in the Church during those years and at the time of the messages, maybe this is what Our Lady is referring to; that the hierarchy are to embrace a more modern approach to the sins that they had accepted as part and parcel in the church for so long but the Church could no longer go forward with such a great evil in it that had caused deep wounds and inflicted terrible suffering upon so many and it needed to be excised out of the Church of her Son.

    I must reread the messages when I get time.
  18. maryrose

    maryrose Powers

    I do not hear the voice of Our Lady in the messages given in Amsterdam but I leave it there. Since this thread is about memories I remember the good things. I remember spending all Souls day and evening going in and out of the church praying 7 Paters, Aves and Glorias for the Holy Souls. We believed we were freeing a soul with every trip in and out of the church so we children used to count up how many souls we had set free. Every man woman and child in the parish spent the evening doing these rounds as they were called. On 15th August we visited a Holy Well dedicated to an old irish saint ,St. Senan, we spent the evening walking around the well praying many Our Fatjers and Hail Mary's. After each turn we drank the water from the holy well and threw some over our shoulders for the Holy Souls. There was a dancehall nearby where the younger people went at the end of the day for some social dancing. My father and mother met there on 15th August many years before. They were married 3 months later. There was also a custom of visiting an ancient graveyard where there was an indent on a large stone and it held water. The tradition was that St Senan fell off his horse and left the indent in the stone. People who had warts used to bathe the wart in the water which was supposed to have a cure for warts. Seems strange now but we all took these stories as gospel. I remember Sunday Mass being packed to the rafters and benediction every Sunday evening being equally busy
  19. maryrose

    maryrose Powers

    On another front I remember before TV or transistors all the people in the village collecting outside a house that had a radio to hear the All Ireland Hurling Final being broadcast. There was a great sense of community. I remember visiting Our lady's roadside shrine every May for the rosary. Every body set up May altars in their homes. Of course the family rosary was said without fail every night and then we had the trimmins ( novena prayers, special devotional prayers to the saints etc.). The trimmins could end up being as long as the rosary because nothing got dropped off. I remember Lent being really Lent. I was a child but sweets and goodies were off the chart and everything of that sort we saved in a tin until lent was over. On Easter Sunday morning we ended up with tummy aches from eating sweets. I remember my parents cycling to early Mass having fasted all night. The church was 4 miles away and I was on the carrier of my mothers bike. They cycled through all sorts of weather. Nothing ever stopped them. Eventually my father was able to buy a small ford van. It was such a luxury. We then started driving to Knock Shrine once a year. The journey through little windy roads through the west of Ireland used to take 6 to 7 hours. We would stop a few times for picnics. We children loved going . It was such an adventure.
    Thinking back on it now I can see our existence was surrounded by prayer. I was completely unaware of abuse or any of the things that have come out since. The Priest was really honored as indeed were nuns. Life could be harsh and we were punished by a slap for misdemeanors by our parents and teachers. Nobody saw it as a problem. Near my mothers home there was lake that was blessed. During the famine many people were dying of thyphoid and the local Parish Priest blessed the lake and the story goes that after that people were able to drink the water from the lake safely. We did believe in the special power invested in a priest and getting a blessing from a priest was considered a very special thing.
    Thats it. Anybody else got special memories? Maybe I am older than most of you.
  20. Julia

    Julia Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

    Having read through the other comments, I can also remember all the women and girls had to 'cover their head' when in the Church.

    All the children used to sit in the front rows. Girls one side of the aisle and boys on the other. At least in my parish anyway.

    You would have to go to what we called the first (Early) Mass to receive Holy Communion because you had to fast from midnight the night before.

    No one made so much as a squeak, all were silent in Church. Not like nowadays.

    You would be too afraid to commit a sin incase a bolt of lightening hit you. Fear of God was a big factor in them days. I remember a saying meant with all the best will in the world; "God is fierce good."

    One of the nice things I remember from childhood was if you fell out with your brothers or sisters or friends, an adult would make you shake hands and be friends again.

    Another lovely memory for me was when someone would come in to visit, they would say; "God save all here." As they came in. And "Glory be to God" for any good news, or good weather or any nice thing that happened.

    Maryrose tells it all so well in her posts.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015

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