THE PRESIDENT'S HEALTH : DEATH OF FORMER V.G.
Two "Lies" About Mr. O'Higgins An Explanation
From Our Dublin Correspondent Relief is felt everywhere in Ireland at the news from Zurich that the condition of President de Valera's eyes is found by Dr. Vogt to be improving. The operation performed tact year seems to have been thoroughly successful.
I may venture without offence to tell that Mr. de Valera himself was for long less hopeful of his health than were his friends. Before the operation was decided upon, he was going resignedly forward, prepared for a blow which God has spared him, and resolved to do the last ounce of work while he could.
Those who knew of the President's affliction felt keenly the unkindness of persons and groups who made unnecessary difficulties for him, as he went so bravely about his task. He was persuaded to consult the great Swiss expert, perhaps in the nick of time. Today he seems to be providentially restored to his best working capacity, and there are many who believe that he may have the yet greater happiness to complete his chief ambition—the achievement of a permanent peace between the nations of these islands.
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Another Churchman's Death
For the third week in succession, an Irish diocese has lost one of its foremost churchmen. After Dean O'Neill of Armagh. and Dean McPolin of Dromore, the Right Rev. Mgr. P. E. Duffy, of Tullamore, who was Vicar-General of the diocese of Meath, has died, aged 65.
Mgr. Duffy had been hearing Confessions in his parish church on the eve of the Epiphany, and was taken ill in the Presbytery. The last Sacraments were administered to him immediately, and he passed away.
What remarkable changes this fine old priest saw in his day! His native Meath, of old the mensal land of the High-Kings of Ireland, heavy with wheat a hundred years ago, in modern times an expanse of green ranches, is being divided up in peasant farms now, and becoming once more prosperous.
A few weeks ago. Mgr. Duffy assisted at the consecration of the noble cathedral at Mullinger which the Bishop of Meath has built—a high Romanesque building which dominates the great plain of Meath and the chain of Westmeath lakes.
Mr. Brian O'Higgins
The well-known patriotic writer and Catholic poet, Mr. Brian O'Higgins, has taken exception to my recent notes on his letter to the Press. He writes thus to the Editor of the Catholic Herald: SIR,-By the merest accident I have seen your issue of December 24, 1936, in the Irish Letter of which falsehoods about me are given without qualification as reliable views ...
Lie No. I is that I was described at one time as President of the Republic of Ireland. I have never been so described in public or in private.
No. 2 is more serious and is deliberate. I have never denounced the Irish Republican Army nor have I joined with anyone in attributing murder to it. In the letter misquoted and cooked by your correspondent I expressed my detestation of certain incidents listed by the Irish Press, for several of which the Government of the so-called " Irish Free State" was respotesible. I said that while the taking of life was a terrible thing the murder of a man's intellect in solitary confinement was infinitely worse, as was the attempted murder of his good name when he was dead. Of both these mean, low crimes I accused the " Irish Free State Government, and gave proof that could not be denied by the Editor of the Irish Press or by anyone else. That portion of my letter your anonymous libeller ignored.
Workings of the Sinn Fein I sincerely apologise to Mr. O'Higgins for anything in which I misrepresented his views, but deprecate the freedom with which he flings the word " lie." 1 always supposed that his presidency of Sinn Fein after the split, when Sinn Fein held that the Republic was still existent, was regarded as presidency of the Republic. I do know that many who sympathise with Sinn Fein are under the same impression. However, Mr. O'Higgins now corrects an error which was due to the lack of publicity under which Sinn Fein has worked.
What Mr. O'Higgins calls " Lie No. 2, serious and deliberate" was a serious and deliberate effort to do justice to him and to others who are unjustly held to blame often for things which Christian patriots, as he says, detest.
If the I.R.A. would copy him in re
pudiating the political crimes of last year —.for which they were publicly held to blame—their act would help in the discouragement of crime.
The Dogs in the Manger
Personally, 1 am not convinced that the charges of complicity were just. and like Mr. O'Higgins 1 never have joined in them; but the attitude of men who say that they will not repudiate things because to do so is to help the Free State Government, whose authority they deny, seems to me seriously hurtful to that peace and moral order which it is our duty to uphold whatever Government rules, native or foreign, legitimate or otherwise. I urge that earnestly, in the friendliest spirit.
However. I do not want to wage an Irish controversy in the columns of the Catholic Herald, and will note only one other point. Mr. O'Higgins complains that I did not quote his charge against the Free State Government. I was silent because I saw no need to raise this painful subject. A political prisoner lost his reason and killed himself, God help him.
Let me assure Mr. O'Higgins and others that every Christian, whether he supports the Free State or not. is horrified by things like these. and longs and prays for the needed Irish settlement not least because it, and it alone, can put an end to unrest, political imprisonments, and tragedies that spring up year after year, no one can foresee whence.
Terence MacSwiney Recalled
By the way, Mr. Brian O'Higgins is publisher as well as poet and has issued in the last few weeks a new edition of Terence MacSwiney's Principles of Freedom.
Few hooks give a clearer insight into the mind, not alone of the patriot who died at Brixton, but of his comrades and generation. than this book of serious, searching thought, on the ideas of nationality and culture in relation to religion. It ought to be studied as one of the principal documents of modern Irish history.
Marriages Halved The Right Rev. Mgr. Lyons, Archdeacon of Armagh. complained of the slowness of housing provision in the town of Drogheda, of which he is parish priest. Last year there were only 40 marriages in the town, as compared with 80 in the year 1935.
Another potent cause of the ceasing of marriages in such towns is the rise of factories employing girls. Few towns have a higher proportion of girl workers than Drogheda, that historic old town on the Boyne, and a further decline of marriage is all too likely to he recorded if employment is not transferred to men.
In Mgr. Lyon's parish church there is enshrined one of Ireland's most precious relics—the head of Blessed Oliver Plunket, the martyred Primate. During the last year there have been many pilgrimages to Drogheda, designed to aid the movement for Blessed Oliver's cause. The canonisation of the Martyr is the dear hope of his successor. Cardinal MacRory, and of all clergy and laity in Armagh.
St. Vincent de Paul and the Press
A General Meeting of St. Vincent de Paul workers was held at the Dublin Mansion House. The President of the Council of Ireland advocated the distribution of literature. Sonic of the conferences had taken up that work and were doing it fairly well. This work ought to be specially organised within the conferences for their own poor and generally for the poor of the parish. He did not think they would find it difficult. They must be propagandists for the Faith.
Those who were engaged in proselytism in this country did their work largely by propaganda. They were not succeeding, thank God, but they were at the work day in day out, calling at the homes of poor Catholics throughout the country, trying to give them copies of the Testament, and telling them it was the Douay Testament. They were very zealous for the destruction of the Catholic religion in this country.
The small circle of Communists in this country also sought to propagate their ideas by the distribution of literature. He suggested that the Catholics should counteract that type of propaganda by themselves providing an antidote. The conferences should see that every one of their poor families had at least one Catholic newspaper. The conferences should supply their poor families with one or other of the Catholic monthlies. There were also available for distribution an excellent series of twopenny booklets dealing with the mysteries of their Faith. He suggested that conferences which had meeting rooms of their own should establish libraries and appoint librarians.
The campaign against the censorship of
books continues in Ireland. Mr. Francis Hackett denounces it in the Dublin Magazine as a clerical repression. and Miss Dorothy Macardle in the Irish Press, says: " Do let us grow up."
Is there not something about becoming as little children in a book that Miss Macardle may have read?