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.
March 21, 2018
When Doddy met Hawking… and they set the world to rights
At a time and place unknown to mortals, two lately deceased Englishmen sit together. One is a beloved comedian, the other a world-famous astrophysicist. They immediately recognise each other, for their faces are unmistakably distinct. ‘I think we’ve kicked the bucket,’ says the comedian through his buck teeth. ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve kicked anything,’ retorts the wheelchair-bound astrophysicist. The comedian howls with laughter, before saying: ‘I’m supposed to be the comic!’ ‘I’m Professor Stephen Hawking,’ says the astrophysicist. ‘And you must be Sir Ken Dodd.’ ‘That’s right, but did you know that I also used to be a professor? Oh yes, when I started out in showbusiness I was known as “Professor Yaffle Chuckabutty, Operatic tenor and Sausage Knotter”!’ Professor Hawking smiles and asks Sir Ken how he got his famous teeth. ‘When I was seven, my friends dared me to ride my bike with my eyes shut. I accepted the dare, crashed the bike and ended up with these teeth. It was the best career move I ever made!’ ‘Anyway,’ says Sir Ken, ‘bet you never thought you’d end up here?’ ‘I don’t know where “here” is yet,’ says the bemused genius. ‘It doesn’t matter where “here” is,’ chuckles Sir Ken. ‘The fact is, you’re in it!’ ‘I suppose you’re right, but it’s too late to change any of my theories! I took thinking to the frontiers of the universe, but here I am one step beyond it and I seem to be in a black hole of my own making!’…Read more
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