“The whirligig of time” : A note on Fr Pat Noise

“The whirligig of time” : A note on Fr Pat Noise

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Seeing that this documentary is to be broadcast next Saturday I thought it an apt time, though any time would be an apt time, to post about my own research into the obscure career of Fr Pat Noise…

Some years ago, when lecturing in UCD, I was working on a presentation on conditions in some ways connected with the passage of time. The best known being deja vu, the perception when in a new place or situation that one has been here before, or the same thing has happened before. Of course, there is a whole psychological science of time.

In those days I had the chance to read more deeply and broadly for this kind of thing than since. I used what was then the UCD School of Medicine in Earlsfort Terrace. It was the last few months of it being part of UCD. The librarians were working on transferring stock of the main UCD Library and many older and more obscure volumes were out and about on various trestle tables. Among these was one which I had dimly heard of but had also come up in some of my reading, Vico’s The New Science. Vico believed that history went in a curve or spiral, and that events recurred.

In the middle of the book, presumably used as a book mark at some stage, I found a faded, worn prayer card. I could barely make out the text on it except for a request to say an Our Father and a Hail Mary for the soul of Fr Pat Noise, and below this the following words:

Do you want to see what human eyes have never seen?
Look at the moon
Do you want to hear what ears have never heard?
Listen to the birds cry
Do you want to touch what hands have never touched?
Touch the earth
Truly I say that God is about to create the world.

This struck me as somewhat unusual content for a prayer card. Again, having more time than now, I was able to follow up with some research on Fr Noise in the Dublin Diocescan archives in All Hallows. I think I had a vague idea about writing some kind of paper. I am not a historian and was seeking not truth nor likelihood but astonishment. So I found out somewhat more about Fr Pat Noise.

Noise, like Fergus Kilpatrick and Dungarvan native John Vincent Moon is a figure who has somehow been forgotten, by and large, in the so called Decade of Centenaries. Unfortunately, at the time , I made my notes in a file on a laptop which is long defunct.

In the archives what we read about Fr Noise is entirely through the words of others, him being a curate in Berkeley Road who dressed in an extremely flamboyant manner, who was unambigious in his support of the workers in the 1913 Lockout, and also as proposing theological views not entirely Orthodox. However one letter describes him as travelling to the furthest reaches of orthodoxy, but not going over the precipice.

This was contained in another letter from a priest that was otherwise quite hostile to Fr. Noise. According to this priest, Fr Noise stated that there are no two moments alike and every moment is a new moment and that history is in a cycle and life is in a cycle because every moment is new again. The poem that was on the prayer card was reproduced in this letter; apparently Fr Noise read it at a ceremony. It is unrecorded what the congregation in Berkeley Road made of this.

Fr Noise’s sympathy for the 1913 Lockout and for the poor of Dublin seems to have, in a similar way, gone right to but not past the limit of what the Church hierarchy could tolerate. There are hints in another letter, by an anonymous outraged parishioner, of accusations of Socialism and Communism, but in this area Fr Noise crafted his sermons in the words of Christ Himself, and remained at the dangerous edge of orthodoxy.

The link with Peadar Clancy came through being one of the genuine customers of Republican Outfitters. This was a well known meeting place for the IRA in Dublin. Dan Breen said that really if you were an IRA man you shouldn’t stay there too long. In the letters about Noise it is mentioned that he wore quite elaborate capes and top hats which were sourced from Republican Outfitters.

He also apparently translated Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar into Irish, but there is no trace I could find of this. There is also a clipped article by Fr Noise, but from an unidentifiable periodical, on Festspiele – festivals in Switzerland in which thousands of people , possible the whole population of a town or area will renact historical events in the place where they happened. In this piece he suggests that this is something that Ireland and Dublin should emulate and and there were all these hints that the 1916 Rising was a reenactment of a previous event that had happened before in history.

Fr Noise pops up in letters beween Peadar Clancy and Sean Treacy and also seems to have been an intermediary for Clancy. Surprisingly these activities do not make it into the accusations of his various foes, and in the letters what Clancy describes are purely philosophical and theological discussions.

Fr Noise is now commemorated with a plaque on O’Connell Street, but otherwise his life is nearly totally forgotten by both the worlds of the Church and of Official Ireland. Perhaps in the narrative of commemorations and the rather self-congratulatory rhetoric about How Far We Have Come, a priest with cosmopolitan intellectual influences does not fit neatly into our perceptions of a cleric or a revolutionary. His plaque is, by coincidence, on the spot on O’Connell Bridge beside which the Millenium Clock, a digital clock inserted into the Liffey in 1994 but which was beset by all sort of problems, including time running backwards.

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Annals of not-very-deceptive front business names: “Republican Outfitters”

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“Republican Outfitters” was a draper’s on Talbot Street, founded by Clare-born Peadar Clancy From the Wikipedia article on Clancy:

After his release, Peadar Clancy started a drapery business of his own, called The Republican Outfitters, which was located at 94 Talbot Street.[8] According to Dan Breen, it was one of the best-known meeting places in Dublin for the IRA, and was so closely watched that it was never advisable to remain there for long.[9] By 1917, it was advertising as The Republican Outfitters: Clancy, Brennan and Walsh.[10] Clancy’s initial partners in the business were Maurice Brennan, Thomas Walsh (who, like Clancy, had been in the Four Courts garrison at Easter 1916, had been sentenced to death, but was later reprieved) and other comrades.[11] By 1920, the initial partnership had been dissolved, Brennan and Walsh had gone out on their own at 5 Upper O’Connell Street (which was also used as a base by the Volunteers, with Walsh acting as intelligence officer of the 1st Battalion)[12] and Tom Hunter had become part proprietor of the Talbot Street business with Clancy.[13]

One wonders how many customers idly went into Republican Outfitters for a new suit.

Here we have a remarkable photograph that viscerally reminds us of the fundamental nature of war and conflict – Lt Gilbert Arthur Price seconds before his death in a gun battle at Republican Outfitters:

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Or is it? It turns out that remarkable photographs, even then, often were remarkable for other reasons.

Here is some footage from “Irish Destiny“, the 1926 silent film from which the above photo is actually taken:

My Best of Tipperary Stained Glass (a personal selection of ten images)

My Best of Tipperary Stained Glass (a personal selection of ten images)

Since this post from January I have been blogging intermittently picture of stained glass from Churches in Tipperary. As I wrote in that original post:

Recently visiting various churches in Clonmel I was struck by how striking the stained glass windows were. None were particularly celebrated or well-recognised, yet were – quite apart from any religious consideration – beautiful, literally luminous works of art. It struck me that they deserve to be celebrated and recorded. Perhaps there is somewhere, online or in a book, which the stained glass windows of Tipperary are collected, but here is my humble effort in that line.

I have been opportunistically taking pictures of stained glass since. I have strayed beyond just one county. I have also been frequently mortified at my lack of photo skills. It is comforting to find from others that stained glass is tricky to take pictures of.

I tend to take these photos when I get the chance – ie between work, family life and other commitments. Therefore they very much reflect my own locality and routine with a definite South Tipp bias. I also have found that Church of Ireland churches tend to be locked when I have tried to go in. I don’t want to distract from services or people at prayer so I try to avoid the times of services/masses. So these images have all been from Catholic Churches – which was not my intention at all!

Anyhow, the posts on Tipperary stained glass are as follows:

Stained Glass of Augustinian Priory, Fethard

Stained Glass from Church of St John The Baptist, Kilcash, Tipperary

Stained Glass of Holycross Abbey, Holycross, Tipperary

Stained glass from St Mary’s Church, Grangemockler, Tipperary

Stained Glass from Church of the Visitation, Cloneen, Tipperary 

Stained Glass from Powerstown, Clonmel, Tipperary Part 1

Murphy Devitt Studios Stained Glass in Chapel of St Anthony, Franciscan Abbey, Clonmel

Murphy Devitt Stained Glass from Franciscan Abbey, Clonmel.

“A kind of gospel in glass”: stained glass from the Church of the Holy Trinity, Fethard, Tipperary.

Stained Glass from New Birmingham/Glengoole, Tipperary

Stained glass from St Mary’s Church, Killenaule 

 

A random image from a site already linked to above:

sunlight through stained glass – St Anthony’s Chapel, Franciscan Friary, Clonmel

From the above I have decided to make a personal selection of my ten favourite images gathered on this stained glass adventure. I don’t pretend to be an expert, a good photographer or a systematic researcher. I am learning more and more about stained glass as time goes by but don’t intend to turn this into another arena of excess striving.

Reviewing the pictures I am rather mortified at the out of focus and generally bad images… so I will strive (irony) to improve this (and may prune egregious examples) I have decided to choose, in so far as possible, purely on aesthetic grounds and purely on the images themselves, as opposed to the place or how the window looks in reality, or any other consideration.

 

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Harry Clarke window of Our Lady of Fatima, Augustinian Abbey, Fethard, Co Tipperary
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St Anthony’s Chapel, Franciscan Abbey, Clonmel (Murphy Devitt Studios)
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From Church of the Visitation, Cloneen

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From Church of the Visitation, Cloneen

 
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From St Mary’s Church, Killenaule

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From St Mary’s Church, Killenaule
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Detail of window of Our Lady of Fatima, Augustinian Abbey, Fethard
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From Church of the Holy Trinity, Fethard
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From Church of St John the Baptist, Powerstown
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From Church of St John the Baptist, Kilcash

 

The Derrynaflan Monastery and Easter Pilgrimage

The Derrynaflan Monastery and Easter Pilgrimage

Recently I visited Derrynaflan with my son (5) and found it a wonderful site. The approach was challenging – we came from the Southern Route following a trip along roads with less and less room to turn and more and more grass in the middle. Then we had to climb various gates and pass through the eerie, desert-like (albeit very wet) bog landscape to Derrynaflan itself. We had a mighty time scrambling around and copying the designs on the Goban Saor’s purported grave. My son had absorbed that there was some kind of treasure story linked to the place, albeit the subtleties of the legal arguments passed him by. He did wonder if we found a euro coin would we have to give it to the government. Curious to know what came of the Derrynaflan trail proposed here?

Also curious to find out more about the Penal Law-era Franciscan friary which is mentioned briefly in various online resources.

These are the graveslabs in situ – the last picture gives a sense of surrounding terrain (didn’t take many photos):

Pilgrimage In Medieval Ireland

Derrynaflan is best known for its medieval metal work, including a two-handled chalice known as the Derrynaflan chalice, on display in the  National Museum of Ireland.

derrynaflan-hoard The Derrynaflan hoard (the chalice and associated ecclesiastical objects)

The  chalice along with a paten, a liturgical strainer and basin were part of a hoard of treasure found by metal detectorist on land close to the  monastery of Derrynaflan Co Tipperary.  The complications, surrounding their discovery, helped to instigate Ireland’s current metal detecting laws which make it illegal for anyone to engage in metal detecting without a licence.

As a child I remember going on a school trip to the National Museum at Kildare St. After all these years I still remember  this visit clearly, along with  our teacher pointing out this treasure (Derrynaflan Chalice) found in my home county. I also purchased a small booklet in the museum shop on the chalice which…

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“A particularly bright, holy and gifted child” – the life and losses of Richard Robert Madden

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In The Church of the Assumption, Booterstown, Dublin we find the above poignant plaque. Here is the text as the above turns out to be a little blurry:

MADDEN. Of your charity pray for the soul of
/Richard Robert Madden, M.D.
/formerly Colonial Secretary
/of Western Australia &c. “A man who loved his Country.”/
Author of “History of United Irishmen” and many other works.
/Remarkable for Talents Piety, and Rectitude, the 21st and last surviving son of/Edward Madden, born in Dublin August 20th 1798 died at Booterstown Feb 5th 1886
/and interred in Donnybrook Churchyard/
also for the soul of his relict Mrs Harriet T Madden, the 21st and last surviving child of
/John Elmslie Esq. Born in London August 4th 1801
/converted by a singular grace to the Catholic Faith in Cuba (circa) 1837
/died at Booterstown Feb 7th 1888/
A woman of rare culture, endowments and piety, a most loving Mother, and died as she had lived, her mind unclouded, her last breath a prayer.
/and for the soul of their loved son William Ford Madden/
who was drowned in the Shannon March 29th 1848 in his 19th year/
On whose souls sweet Jesus have mercy, Amen
also in loving memory of their grandchildren William Joseph H Ford Madden/born Jan 10th 1871 died Sept 14th 1871 and of Bridget Gertrude Harriet Madden (Beda)/a singularly bright, holy, and gifted child, born July 17th 1875 died on the 16th June 1882 in her seventh year.

I find these plaques moving in general, and this one even more so than most. One considers Madden’s long, interesting life, and the losses of his son, infant grandson, and later granddaughter. There is a certain restraint to the simple plaque which is a counterpoint to the ornate language.

Richard Robert Madden lead an extremely varied life: playing a role in the abolition of slavery and as a historian of the United Irishmen. The Egypt Sudan Graffiti page has images of Madden’s various graffiti on Egyptian antiquities.

From the DNB:

Madden, Richard Robert (1798–1886), author and colonial administrator, the youngest son of Edward Madden (1739–1830), a silk manufacturer of Dublin, and his second wife, Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of Thaddeus Forde of Corry, co. Leitrim, was born at Wormwood Gate, Dublin, on 22 August 1798. He was educated at a private school in Dublin, and studied medicine in Paris, Naples, and St George’s Hospital, London. While in Italy he became acquainted with Lady Blessington and her circle, and acted as correspondent of the Morning Herald. Between 1824 and 1827 he travelled in the Levant, visiting Smyrna, Constantinople, Crete, Egypt, and Syria; he published an account of his travels in 1829. He returned in 1828 to England, where he married Harriet (d. 1888), the daughter of John Elmslie of Jamaica; they had three sons, including Thomas More Madden.

Madden was elected a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1828, and was made an FRCS in 1855. He practised as a surgeon in Curzon Street, Mayfair, until, in 1833, he went to Jamaica as one of the special magistrates appointed to resolve disputes between black apprentices and their white masters in the transitional system which, in 1834, replaced slavery with apprenticeship as a preliminary to full freedom. His energetic support for the apprentices brought him into conflict with the plantation owners, and he resigned in November 1834. He published a two-volume account of his experiences, A twelve-month’s residence in the West Indies during the transition from slavery to apprenticeship (1835).

In 1836 Madden was appointed superintendent of the liberated Africans and judge arbitrator in the mixed court of commission in Havana. During his four years in Cuba he published a number of works on slavery, including an Address on Slavery in Cuba, Presented to the General Anti-Slavery Convention (1840). He left Cuba in 1840 to accompany Sir Moses Montefiore on his mission to Egypt to plead for a group of Jews from Damascus accused of ritual murder. Again he wrote an account of his experiences. The following year he was sent to west Africa as a commissioner of inquiry into the administration of British coastal settlements, where he exposed the ‘pawn system’, which was a disguised form of slavery. From November 1843 until August 1846 he acted as the special correspondent at Lisbon of the Morning Chronicle. In 1847 he was appointed colonial secretary of Western Australia, where he strove to protect the few remaining rights of the Aborigines. After returning to Ireland on leave in 1848, he took up the cause of the famine-stricken peasantry, and in 1850 resigned his Australian office in favour of that of secretary to the Loan Fund board at Dublin Castle, which he held until 1880.

Madden’s interest in his homeland provided the source of his most enduring work, The United Irishmen, their Lives and Times (7 vols., 1843–6), which was issued in a second edition in 1858; A History of Irish Periodical Literature from the End of the Seventeenth to the Middle of the Nineteenth Century (2 vols., 1867); and Literary Remains of the United Irishmen of 1798 (1887), a collection of ballads, songs, and other united Irish literary works. His other work of importance was the three-volume The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington (1855). Madden had been an intimate of the Gore House circle since his meeting with the Blessingtons in Naples in 1821; despite this advantage, and despite his access to the papers, it has been remarked that ‘no one who attempts to use his book can help but deplore the chaotic arrangement, the faults of copying, the digressions and the frequent errors in plain statement of fact which disfigure it’ (Sadleir, 388).

Madden was a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a corresponding member of the Society of Medical Science. He died at his residence, 3 Vernon Terrace, Booterstown, co. Dublin, on 5 February 1886 and was buried in Donnybrook graveyard there.

Madden’s medical career is almost incidental in the above. Interestingly, he was a “convert” to homeopathy

Among his many books is The Infirmities of Genius Illustrated by Referring the Anomalies in the Literary Character to the Habits and Constitutional Peculiarities of Men of Genius, . This has an arrestingly blunt opening:

It is generally admitted that literary men are an irritable race, subject to many infirmities, both of mind and body; the worldly prosperity and domestic happienss are not very often the result of their pursuits.

In the midst of the many words written by and about Richard Robert Madden, I can’t help longing to hear the voice of Bridget Gertrude Harriet Madden, Beda, the “particularly bright, holy and gifted child” lost at the age of seven. This is not to downplay the other losses recorded for posterity; her brother William Joseph, Richard Robert’s son William Forde Madden. There is something strongly affecting about the closing lines of this plaque, and whatever one’s beliefs (or lack thereof) surely a longing that Richard Robert and his granddaughter would have some kind of reunion is an entirely understandable one. As the final words of the plaque say, Requiesicant in Pace. Amen.

“Ample food and sleep” : A thought on retrospective diagnosis, visions and full bellies

From Geoffrey Moorhouse’s fine bookSun Dancing

A clinical diagnosis of Aedh’s erotic and other visions would doubtless have concluded that , whatever shaped them in his psyche, they were triggered by his reckless fasting. Hallucination as a result of extreme exhaustion, including that which has resulted from semi-starvation, is a well-established condition, though many more centuries would pass after Aedh’s time before this was recognised. But visionaries of every father at all stages of history have tended to be people whose lives are marked by exceptional austerity, and it is difficult to think of a single instance in which a holy man or woman has reported tempting, fearsome or inspiring manifestations, on a regime of ample food and sleep.

On one level there is nothing objectionable about the above. Moorhouse, whose book I greatly admire, is careful not the ascribed the visions to starvation per se, but as a triggering factor. I I am suspicious of retrospective diagnosis and also of transporting the clinical worldview outside its natural habitat But reading this passage, a brief thought occurs. For the vast majority of the time homo sapiens has been in existence “ample food and sleep” have not been the common condition of humanity. Indeed, a regime of ample food and sleep could be said to be as anomalous as complex societies themselves- as Tainter points out

“the overbearing mother, the emotional repression, the teasing sort-of girlfriend, the constant guilt and fear ” – draft review of The Cure, Rachel Genn, TLS, 2011

The TLS ultimately used a much edited version of this review of a book I evidently didn’t like. Perhaps I was uncomfortable with the line “having sex with Séamus in a pub toilet.” Bad sex writing ahoy!

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Eugene Mahon is a familiarly depressive fictional Irish male, living a
life of quiet desperation in Salthill, Co. Galway. He is kitted out
with the accoutrements of his type – the overbearing mother, the
emotional repression, the teasing sort-of girlfriend, the constant
guilt and fear. His father, Séamus, died some years before, marinated
in alcohol – his drinking accelerating after a Shoreditch building
site accident which left another man worse off than dead. And in a
familiar move both in reality and fiction, Eugene lights out for
London town; specifically to work on the sites and to live in The
Beacon, the pub lodgings where his father had stayed.

Della, landlady of the Beacon, receives Eugene’s letter announcing his
arrival with dismay. She recalls, in a passage that alternates
logistical and lyrical modes, having sex with Séamus in a pub toilet
(“Between the sink and the toilet there wasn’t much room for the V of
her thighs – ‘Weightlifter’s thighs,’ Seamus had kidded, his fingers
digging into the underside of them for a second … Even then, at the
moment where wanting becomes having, she had known that she would wake
with the barbs of who and where carelessly jagging over her” ). Jack,
a confrere of Seamus’ from the old days, is still is residence at The
Beacon. Della’s Oxbridge educated daughter Julia (“Little Miss May
Balls” as her mother mockingly calls her), and Julia’s shiftless
philosopher-boyfriend Rhodri (working on a volume of aphorisms and
daydreaming of a column: “’Grey Matters – where Psychology meets
Philosophy meets the Popular.’ The better Sunday supplements were
crying out for it. Perhaps even the TLS if he shaved off the
expletives.”) also populate this dive.

Upon arrival, Eugene goes to work on a site presided over by the man
who employed his father, tough but benevolent Buck O’Halloran and his
far from benevolent son Noble. The sites are no longer the preserve of
Irish refugees from miscellaneous misery; this is a truly
multinational crew. Eugene livens up – a little. Of course, an
Irishman in a novel cannot be all that happy for all that long, and
Eugene eventually wakes in a police cell, with a charge of racially
aggravated assault and no memory of how he got there or what lead to
the charge.

“The Cure” reminded me inescapably of Fitzgerald’s dictum that “Begin
with an individual and you end up with a type, begin with a type and
you end with – nothing.” Eugene’s almost stereotypically miseryguts
Irishman may live a little in London, but never takes on a spark of
life. His mother, his brother, his girlfriend back in Salthill – all
seem barely reheated leftovers from an Edna O’Brien novel. The writing
is slightly livelier, slightly more engaging, dealing with the
multiethnic crew of the site – but even these figures feel half formed, and tend to speak in the contemporary equivalent of Kipling’s aspirate-free Tommies.
Of all the characters, Rhodri’s absurd philosophising and pretension
(“he believed that writing in pencil let more of the self out”) are
closest to memorable, striking attributes.

While the flashbacks to Salthill largely read like an updated Angela’s
Ashes, there are some moving moments. The rain-sodden depressive
Irish caricature has a basis in reality, and Genn captures some
elements of the mother-son relationship very well – but more in discursive
passages (“it was obvious to her that her children had been trying to
get one over on her since the day they were born so she countered this
with apocalyptic predictions”) than in action or dialogue. These moments aside, The Cure moves with plodding overinclusiveness towards an unearned epiphany.