Some notes from Hibernia, some quite personal.
I have had little time to devote either to this website lately. All I could manage was posting some pre- written extracts from my upcoming book, Cor Jesu Sacratissimum. Happily, that time-situation, at least, seems to be changing – so new material will now be appearing.
As for my book, I hesitate to say much—well-aware of years of broken promises at this site. However, an American publisher has shown a definite wish to publish it. One way or another, I hope it will not be too long. But I had best promise nothing …
The book has a dedication which runs as follows:
To the Soul of France, Catholic France, which was subjected to utter mutilation in the past and to the Soul of Catholic Ireland, which is being mutilated in similar fashion today, this book is dedicated.
To the Souls of these great Catholic cultures, I owe more than I can possibly tell you, dear Reader.
I am in Hibernia now, no longer in France, where the book’s first draft was begun.
The tragedy of Hibernia stares me in the face. The tragedy, I mean, of a materialistic globalisation destroying its ancient Christian culture.
More and more, this website will turn to that tragedy. We have already intimated much in various entries to be found in the new Ireland tab, which now features in the top bar.
The change in this website is also reflected in the new blogroll of Irish sites in our left hand sidebar.
I have mentioned already my involvement at the Irish Catholics forum – which I am finally able to resume.
It is, without doubt, the richest, most intellectually stimulating forum I have ever participated in. And I recommend it not only to Irish readers, but to everyone concerned with the issues we try to evoke here at this site.
Some of the posters at that forum also have blogs listed in our new blogroll. Some thoughts regarding these young bloggers follow.
We live in a world whose passion seems increasingly limited to the economic and the sexual. Irish Monarchist may seem quixotic, but his passion – sheer passion – for very different things often stirs my heart.
Markedly disparate from Irish Monarchist, Young Ireland’s Telling It Like It Is, is quick to remind us how dangerous such passion can be. I appreciate his concerns – yet I enjoy both these very different blogs.
But today, I am feeling particularly haunted by Irish Papist. I am haunted by a world he evokes that I never knew.
For I grew up in America in the 1960s and 70s and never, never can I imagine having seen something like The Rose of Tralee that Irish Papist recalls here:
Most of my readers are not Irish, and may not know about The Rose of Tralee. I suppose you could call it a beauty contest, but it’s a world away from Miss Universe (though I’ve never seen Miss Universe).
The organizers always stress that the winner is chosen on personality as much as looks. It’s very much family viewing, and about as erotic as wellies.
Young women from all over Ireland and across the world come to Tralee in County Kerry, stand on stage to be asked a variety of innocuous questions, and then recite a poem or sing a song or do some performance of some kind. The most insipid girl wins.
I sat on the couch, feeling I had been transported back to my aunt’s parlour, with my uncle’s glass and porcelain fish decorations standing on the cabinet, and my aunt’s country-wife accent breaking the silence every few moments …
And at that moment, as I sat watching The Rose of Tralee, the most delicious sensation of being an Irish person, comfortably ensconced in Ireland, washed over me. I didn’t care about globalization. I didn’t care about the past or the future. I didn’t care about itemizing a check-list of genuinely indigenous elements of our culture.
I felt that Irishness was something too elusive to be analysed like that. It was something as diffuse and yet as penetrating as a scent, or an atmosphere, or a mood. It was in a tone of voice, a quirk of expression, in the vaguest acquaintance with the history of the Cromwellian plantations or the Brehon Law …
All the Starbucks and multiculturalism and podcasting in the world hardly made a dent in it. There was no need to worry about it, or assert it. It was just there.
Normally, this is the kind of vague claim that makes me want to throw things at the one making it. But in that moment it seemed as indisputable as gravity.
(More of this can be found at Irish Papist here.)
What can I say? My memories of youth are mainly American. And they do include those ghastly American swimsuit competitions, which I say, to my shame, I did watch for reasons that were erotic.
Beyond the unashamed eroticism, my memory of them now involves the peculiarly plastic, yet frozen smiles of superficiality on the faces of the contestants …
I think to Irish Papist‘s ‘family viewing‘ of his youth, as erotic, he says, as the rubber boots Irish farmers use to tramp their sodden fields, and I think to how different his world was to mine.
I also think how much his world still emphasised chastity – but that is the subject of another blog to come in time …
I have never seen The Rose of Tralee, but somehow I doubt it would be insipid in the same sense as those frozen, plastic smiles.
Whatever its limitations, I imagine I would find something wholesome to The Rose of Tralee – at least as it would have been in the past.
Wholesome: it is a lovely word I think – and it describes very much what is now being destroyed in Ireland and replaced by crass substitutes, often American.
Now, a related note: Kim and I are trying to build something at this website. Or better put: grow something, as in a garden. In time, we hope far more will flower from this project, including not only the website itself, but a series of books and more.
What that future flowering looks like exactly, I will not try to say. This is the difference between building and gardening. But what we cultivate here will aspire to be a garden of traditional Christianity.
We will continue to consider the global challenges to that Christianity, but more and more, we will also turn to that devastated garden that is Hibernia.
I am haunted, haunted by the devastated garden of Catholic Ireland. God has brought us here, I think, that we may help a little, if only just a little, to restore it.
We will soon be saying much more.
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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