Welcome to my website!
Here, you will find details of my Career and Life, Books, and Media & Public Appearances. I also make available a collection of my journalistic writings. Just below, you will find a new Moral Matters Column (uploaded each Friday) and a selection of my Saturday Essays from the Irish Daily Mail. At the bottom of this page, I have selected a quote from my writings in the hope that it will help you kick off your day on a contemplative, thought-provoking, but always life-affirming note.
June 6, 2018
Had your coffee fix? Well, there is always tea and sympathy
Isn’t it wonderful what many of you are doing right now? No, not reading me – although that has, I hope, some small merit. I am referring to the ritual of sipping something hot and soothing as you read. It is almost something instinctive that we do: we make or purchase a fresh brew, settle down and begin to read or ponder. And the staple delight is usually tea or coffee. Whether it is herbal or traditional, cappuccino or Americano, its purpose is to revive, refresh and relax. Now you might say that the contents of your cup have no further significance. You are sipping and reading to take time out from an otherwise hectic schedule. Alternatively, your daily routine is punctuated with little moments of calm aided by your tea or coffee. When I was growing up, we all knew the meaning of tea. Coffee was primarily of the instant variety, and certainly did not have the cosmopolitan complexion it has today. But tea was not only an aid to relaxation, but a drink that symbolised home, family and friendship. Almost everything we did revolved around tea. No matter what the occasion, putting on the kettle was the first thing people did. Somehow, that little cup of tea made everything seem all right. But that was then, and this is now. We still reach for the kettle in times of joy or crisis, but the manner of our caffeine consumption has radically evolved. Now we must say: ‘tea or coffee?’…Read more
- Moral Matters has been running each week in the Irish Daily Mail since 2009. Columns from 2013 to the present are available simply by hitting the ‘Columns’ tab above.
March 17, 2018
Can Pope Francis heal his divided Church?
LAST Monday, former President Mary McAleese appeared on RTÉ’s Today With Seán O’Rourke programme. Having recently obtained global headlines with her searing denunciation of the Catholic Church as an ‘empire of misogyny’, Mrs McAleese used her appearance on the show to take aim at none other than Pope Francis. The Pontiff, she claimed, is ‘not a great strategist’, but is a ‘very spontaneous, almost scattergun person’. And, while these might be ‘disarming and lovely’ traits, we are, she believes, ‘beyond the point where that is enough’. It is not often you hear leading Catholic liberals so stridently criticise the current Pope. However, the former president wasn’t finished. While acknowledging that Francis is, indeed, a ‘reforming pope’, he nevertheless presides over ‘a male bastion of patronising platitudes’, to which he himself adds ‘his own quota’. While many were shocked by her criticisms of this popular Pope, Mary McAleese is, in fact, not alone in finding fault with Francis. Indeed, on both sides of the Catholic divide, the Pope has his detractors – people who believe, like Mrs McAleese, that he hasn’t gone far enough, and others who think his ‘reforms’ have gone much too far. As it happens, Mrs McAleese’s broadside against Francis coincided with the fifth anniversary of his election as Pope on March 13. What began as a pontificate of great promise has, however, become one that is often unpredictable, complex and, at times, bitterly controversial…Read More