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.
April 19, 2017
Let’s not lose touch with sacred things
As I see it, the biggest problem facing our society is the loss of respect for sacred things. I don’t mean religious things as such, although they are intrinsically sacred. I mean all those things that command awe, reverence and esteem. Traditionally, sacred things acted as barrier to our impulses. Such things stood beyond the ordinary flow of life, tempering our desire to violate or dishonour. They summoned the better angels of our nature, forcing us to recognise a threshold that we dare not trespass. When I was a child, for example, the news that someone had died was received with communal mourning. My grandfather ran a butcher shop in a small village, and when a cortege was due to pass, he and his employees stood respectfully on the street. Indeed, the whole village shut down as a mark of respect for the deceased and the bereaved. It is to their great credit that many towns and villages in rural Ireland continue this ancient practice. For them, the dead are not to be shoved out of sight. In closing their shops, and putting life on hold, they reverence those in whose sacred shadow we stand…Read More
March 25, 2017
What if he’d chosen to wage peace, not war?
ON the evening of January 30, 1948, a Hindu nationalist, Nathuram Godse, shot Mahatma Gandhi three times at point-blank range. Revered as the ‘Father of the Nation’, Gandhi was preparing to address a prayer meeting when Godse ended his extraordinary life. Having liberated India from the British empire without a single act of violence, the Mahatma, or ‘Great Soul’, was dispatched from this world by the very method he had spent his life denouncing. Gandhi was greatly influenced by Leo Tolstoy, whose ardent belief in the power of non-violent resistance touched him deeply. Indeed, Tolstoy’s last letter before he died in 1910, was to the Mahatma. Another of Gandhi’s correspondents was Albert Einstein who, following the murder of the Great Soul, wrote: ‘Gandhi had demonstrated that a powerful human following can be assembled…through the cogent example of a morally superior conduct of life.’ On the evening of April 4, 1968, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr was fatally shot by James Earl Ray, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King, whose non-violent civil rights movement was profoundly influenced by Gandhi, often referred to the Mahatma as ‘that little brown saint’. ‘Christ gave us the goals,’ he said, ‘and Mahatma Gandhi gave us the tactics’. Following Dr King’s assassination, President Lyndon Johnson declared seven days of national mourning. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a federal holiday in his honour. All that because King had a dream that, one day, ‘little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as brothers and sisters’. What he said of Gandhi could be equally said of King himself: ‘He struggled only with the weapons of truth, soul force, noninjury and courage.’ On the morning of March 21, 2017, Ireland awoke to the news that former IRA commander turned peacemaker, Martin McGuinness, had died of a rare heart condition…Read more