social democracy today

  The crisis in Egypt continues. I hope that civil war can be averted. The Muslim Brotherhood only looked after their own, Christians secularists and other Muslims were treated badly. The Muslim Brotherhood looked after the rich only. No wonder the people revolted. Let us hope Egypt can evolve into a liberal democracy.

  Turkey still is in crisis. The people are still protesting against the government. I hope the people will win. Religion and politics don’t mix. Religion deals with the other world. Politics deals with this world.

  Austerity isn’t working. The rich are getting richer. Public services are being cut. Economic growth is weak. Neo-liberalism got us into the mess we are in. The solution that the experts are giving us are more of the same neo-liberal stupidity. We can learn from history how to deal with a recession. The example of FDR should inspire us. People are more important than banks. But it seems that economic policy puts banks ahead of people.


social democracy today

  Democracy means more than just getting a majority to support you in the polls. It means rule by the people. It also means rule by the different peoples that live in a society.

  In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood failed to rule for all the Egyptian peoples. They ruled in the name of a certain section of Sunni Muslims population. The Christian’s Jews and other Muslims were ignored and they were treated like 2nd class citizens by the government. The economic crisis was made worse by the government. Economics should be the number 1 priority of any government. The economic crisis and the divisive politics that the Muslim Brotherhood believed in led to the protests and the army moving in to defuse the crisis. I hope that an inclusive government can be created. I hope a new real democratic constitution can be made by and  for the people of Egypt. I hope that Turkey can be free as well from its present government.

  We in Ireland cannot look at what is happening in the Middle East with a feeling of pride. We in Ireland North and South created religious states were the minority were treated as 2nd class citizens. I hope we don’t go to the opposite extreme and ban religion from public life. We need to create a Republic that respects peoples of all religions and none. States should deal with the material interests of the people. Religions should deal with the spiritual interests of peoples.”Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render to God the things that are God’s.”

social democracy today

The civil war in Syria the protests in Turkey and Egypt shows us that the Arab Spring has turned chilly. The civil war in Syria has become an international conflict with Russia America and the Arab countries supporting their own sides. I believe in democracy. In any conflict I look at the sides that are involved. What I see in Syria is 2 sides that are as bad as each other. I can’t support any side. I believe that the West should stay out of the conflict.
In Turkey and Egypt we have a religious government against people who seek personal freedom. I support the people in these conflicts. In these countries what we find is the inability of the different groups to share a common future. Ireland was like that in the past. In These 3 countries different religious groups seek supreme power. The minorities will suffer injustice if the majority succeed in gaining power. We need to create societies that are pluralist. We need societies where people of all religions and none can life in freedom and tolerance.
The Anglo Irish tapes are an interesting insight into banking culture in Ireland. People are angry. They have a right to be angry. Our international standing has suffered. I hope that don’t make the same mistakes as we did in the past. I fear we may forget the lesions of the past. The anger over the Anglo Irish tapes may help in the creation of a new and better Ireland. John O Brien.

In honour of my dad part 5.

                               Canon Sheehan Author

  He continued to write and between 1895 and 1910 he had published fifteen volumes.

They are :

Geoffrey Austin,

The Triumph of Failure,

My New Curate,

Luke Delmege,

The Blindness of Dr. Gray,



Miriam Lucas,

The Queens Fillet,

Under the Cedars and the Stars,


The Intellectuals,

Cithara Mea ( a volume of poems) and

Mariae Corona(sermons in honor of our Lady),

The Graves at Kilmorna.

  Besides these, he wrote a number of Essays and Criticisms. The novel, dealing with the Irish uprising in 1867, and bearing the title The Graves at Kilmorna was published after his death. Some of his books gained at once an international reputation and were translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Slavonic, and Russian (Ruthenian).

  These writings not only reveal his special gifts as a thinker and writer but they allow us to form a fair estimate of his character as a man; of his aims and ideals as a priest and pastor of souls; and they record many actual experiences which gave direction and emphasis to these aims. 

  Canon Sheehan wrote his novels as a travelled man tells his adventures to young folk. His poetic gift made him clothe the incidents in the vesture of romance, with a moral vista behind the action of his story, to draw the attention of the reader to higher things.


Anyone interested in the life of Canon Sheehan would do well to read

By Pen and Pulpit by Michael Barry.

Canon Sheehan of Doneraile by Herman J Heuser D.D.

Canon Sheehan of Doneraile by M P Linehan (1952) and

A History of Doneraile by Fr. A. Gaughan.

In honour of my dad part 4

                                                 Land war and Land Acts.

  His early years in Doneraile coincided with the last stages of the Land War and the introduction of the Land Acts. He  was the ideal man for this because his integrity was never in question and all sides respected him, even those of different persuasions. He was involved in bringing all the negotiations with the landlords to a successful conclusion.

  The following is an excerpt from a record kept by a John O Leary of Carrigeen about the part played by Canon Sheehan in the acquisition of his land. ” In 1904 a few of us (tenants) put our heads together and decided to ask Canon Sheehan to come with us to meet our agent( A.G. Creagh of Mallow) in order to put before our demands to purchase our farms. I shall never forget that hour , 12 noon of 17th Sept. 1904 when Canon Sheehan cut the first link of that chain which has bound generations of tenants on the Creagh estates to the chariot of landlordism. He went on to describe the negotiations and the calm dignity of Canon Sheehan in the face of surly and insulting remarks made by the agent’s son. On Canon Sheehan’s advice the tenants refused to pay rent and after two and a half years the landlord was forced to re-open negotiations and with a bit of face saving give and take, a deal was concluded and the tenants purchased their farms “at twenty and half years purchase of 6 shillings & 9d in the pound on the existing rents”. All the considerable arrears were wiped out. This agreement was finalised and signed on 14th July 1907, and the record conclude ” The wisdom of his counsel I shall ever treasure and I was ready at all times, any hour night or day. May his saintly spirit watch over the parish where his remains lie, is the prayer of  O Leary”.

                                Improvements for Doneraile.

  Following the satisfactory conclusion of the land purchase, he used his influence in getting as many improvements as possible for Doneraile. He was influential in getting an electrical plant to provide light for the town and Doneraile Court. The power plant also supplied electricity to pump water to the houses, which was an enormous benefit. Lady Castletown was Ursula Clare Emily St Leger of Doneraile Court and Lord Castletown held Canon Sheehan in the highest regard. His success as a writer turned him into a celebrity and when the Castletowns had important guests, he was frequently invited to meet them. In 1903, the Canon met an American, Justice Oliver Wendall Homes who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, and it was a meeting of two intellectual minds. They became firm friends and engaged in a ten year correspondence, which only ended on the Canon’s death.

In honour of my dad part 3

                      Death and Burial

  In 1910 he was diagnosed as having cancer. On Nov. 12th 1912 he returned home from hospital after a five month stay, said to his housekeeper ” I am home at last, thank God and nothing shall ever make me leave it again until I am in a coffin.”

  A short time before he died he was in his study with his brother Denis. He took from his desk a bundle of papers- they were a part of his autobioigraphy. In a feeble voice he said ” these might do harm to others, let us destroy them.” The papers were then thrown into the fire and reduced to ashes. How valuable to students of the period those papers would be today.

  He died on Rosary Sunday Oct. 5th. 1913.

  “I came to Doneraile “, writes John J Horgan author of Great Catholic Laymen, “on the day of his funeral. All the countryside had come to do him homage. A nation mourned by his grave. Lords and Members of Parliament, farmers and labourers, professional men and artisans, all were as one in their sorrow and in their loss. But it was in the little that one missed him most. The gentle presence, the quite voice, the kindly smile all gone.

  The procession passed through the little village street, through the convent grounds where he so often went to encourage and help the good nuns in their work, and finally they laid him to rest beside his church. His spirit lingers in the village, and the visitor as he approaches the gate of the church may see, almost at any hour of the day the kneeling figures of little children of women and men, who bend their heads in prayer over the stone that covers the remains of their beloved pastor of old. The praise of his memory is everywhere and is perpetuated for those who worship within, by the memorial windows in the church, and for the stranger outside by the marble figure on the green fronting the street. it is a testimony of affectionate reverence not only from those to whom the love of their pastor appeals in death, but from the entire population, and from admirers across the Atlantic and the Pacific, among whom he was held in the highest esteem for his intellectual gifts and his big-hearted charity, for his public-spirited forethought in behalf of his fellows and the humble gentlemanly dignity that shone forth from his conduct.

  The common tribute to Canon Sheehan’s worth has been summed up by his friend William O Brien who writes in his epitaph” one of the truest men of genius who have illustrated the Irish name, and one of the truest saints who ever sanctified the Irish soil.”

In honour of my dad part 2.

      Priesthood and Early Appointments.

  He was eventually ordained in St Mary’s Catherdral, Cobh on Sunday April 18th 1875. In 1875 he began his ministry on the Cathedral staff in Plymouth, England, which included Dartmoor prison.

  In 1877 he was appointed a junior curate in his hometown of Mallow.

  In March 1881 he was appointed to Cobh. The town which had a large naval presence similar to Plymouth and his experience would have helped him. It was here that he became conscious of the power of the pen, and used it by contributing to the local publications.

  Ill health again dogged him and he was given the year off to recover, which he spent in Youghal where the P.P. was an old friend.

  In 1890 he returned as senior curate to Mallow and this marked a new phase of his literary work, where he considered the use of his pen as a means of spreading the Christian message through short stories, poems and eventually his novels.

                         P.P. of Doneraile.

  In 1895 he was appointed Parish Priest of Doneraile. Around this time he finished the manuscript of his novel, Geoffrey Austin Student. Doneraile was a large country parish much different from the parishes he had served in up to then. I quote from ” By Pen and Pulpit” by Michael Barry-  ” Fr. Sheehan began to draw close to the people of Doneraile. His great literacy would lead one to believe he spent the greater part of his life in literary pursuits. This was not so as writing was always secondary to his sacred duties. Slowly but surely he began to get to grips with his historic parish and as time went by the people began to see clearly that here was a man who was their friend and to whom they could turn in times of trouble and distress. They also saw a man who was eager to do what he could for his people, both in a spiritual and temporal way and to improve the Parish as a whole.”
In June 1909 Canon Sheehan was nominated as a Bishop for the Diocese of Lismore in New South Wales. It came as a complete surprise to him but it was out of the question for him to accept owning to the poor state of his health.
Pastoral Work in Doneraile.
His pastoral work in Doneraile cannot be overvalued. He was a great believer in education, and he was a great friend to the Presentation Convent schools and to the Christian Brother’s schools in Doneraile. Many a poor child, who showed academic promise was quietly helped by the Canon.