THE Irish may be bard bargainers
among themselves—to judge by the way the cattle were bought and sold in a fair at Abbeyfeak, which I saw, they are—but they have little conception of a deal, fair to themeelves, when it comes to entertaining an English visitor. For the highly doubtful pleasure of dressing roe up in evening clothes and hearing me speak for half-an-hour, they transported me by plane to Ireland and pretty well gave me its freedom. I don't suppose they can have been responsible for those incomparable days of April when the sun shone all day, yet without the mists of summer, so that the landscapes were infinite and uncannily defined, the brilliance of the acres of gorse competing with the sun itself. And flying both ways was like flying over the map of England and Wales, which, viewed Irons the air. seems to consist almost exclusively of aerodromes and golf courses.
Three-Day Tour THOUGH I know some parts of Ire land (the duller ones) fairly well, this trip gave ine my first view of the glories of the south-west. I travelled from Dublin to Cork, via Cashel; on from Cork to Glengariff t thence to Kenniare, via Here Haven; from Kenmare to Killarney, and back to Dublin through Limerick and Athlone, along the banks of Lough Derg. I had never realised the extent of the mountain country of West Cork and Co. Kerry. It seems to spread for ever and ever with numberless mountain ranges whose peaks are in the neighbourhood of 3,000 feet. The clear days probably made it look less formidable than usual. but I was glad to have the gorse and the browny-red hues of the dried bracken instead of the more sentimental end, pictorially, more popular purples of the wmmer and autumn heather. Misuses of Courtesy N attempt to save time through a 1-t short-cut in the mountains endangered the whole programme, partly because of the roughness of the roads but mainly owing to the couitesy of the inhabitants who have, strongly developed, the Irish reluctance to disappoint the questioner. Rather than vex us by offering clear if complex indications, they gallantly smoothed our way by telling to. that we had a clear and easy road to the mainroad so many miles away. Refreshed by such welcome advice, we would hurry on to find a fgark within a quarter-of-a-now and no kind of indication which road to take.
Contrasts c: NE el' the myeterws of Ireland is the sharp split between the natural beauty of the cOuntry (not to mention the poetry and romance that is in the air as well as in the Irish character) and unexpected aesthetic insensibilities of the people. At a wonderful spot called Gougaresbarra, a black lake at the base of a formidable cup made by formidable rock-faced motmteins, there is a little peninsula where there is a shrine to St. Finbar, the first Bishop of Cork. The Saint, according to the guide book, there slew a dragon " unaccountably overlooked by St. Patrick " and the Irish mem his memory Beside the old ruins of an earlier chapel a new one has been erected which, though not beautiful, harmonises well enough with the gauntness of the scenery. Enter it, however, and you find it daubed with a glaring wash and decorated with quite the most terrible statue of the Little Flower that you have ever seen.
Indeed the use of a type of repository art, which is happily passing at last in this country, is etill universal in lrelaad, and, in contrast with so much that is beautiful and elevated in the country. it is especially grating.
Religious Life TO the Catholic from this country the lack of visible liturgical interest is always surprising. One can only bow one's head in respect for the signs of religious and sacramental life 1 wonder how many people received Holy Communion in St. Patrick's in Cork on the Sunday when I was there. I know the immense church (so large that the priest had almost to shout to move people from standing at the door) Was packed for the eight o'clock Mass end about 80 per cent. received Holy Communion. On a weekday in Athlone a church almost as large was full of people, men as well as women, and again a large percentage went to Communion. But the visit°, fails to obseive the integration of this richness of sacramental life with affairs. culture, taste, or to see its expression in the development of the whole personality in the liturgy. Would it be wholly unfair to say that the two chief public activities of the Irish are going to church in the morning and going to the cinema (of which there are so very many) in the evening? The two are by no means necessarily incompatible. but the cinema is rather a thin metession of the full Catholic life!
A Catholic Country I FEAR these criticisms may sound rather ungracious, but they spring from the strortg consciousness one always gets when in Ireland that there is a perfect field for a great experiment in Catholic social life. The political basis is democratic: there is a non-Catholic minority; history, language, literature, the beauty and diversity of the country with its agricultural riches, all this fin nishes the material for a great Catholic people, and could create the model Catholic land in contemporary conditions of life. forward. looking, creative. courageous. broad, unpuritanical. I think it would be well worth a well-equipped Catholic
observer's while to spend a year or so in Ireland and to try to get to the bottom of the reason why there is so much in Ireland that is missing among Catholics of other countries and yet so much missing there which is to be found among sections of Catholics at :my rate elsewhere.
Actors' Interval PERHAPs it is because they are so much more in contact with their public that actors are so much more rriendly, and less pretentious, than other artists, but 1 had a feeling at the Interval Club last Sunday that the Palm Sunday retreat organised by Miss Hewitt was all along a guaranteed success. Appropriately enough one of the priests, Fr. Christophei Devlin, Si., giving the talks. was a brother of Mr, William Devlin—the only actor I have ever seen, out of twenty-two, who could make the ghost in Hamlet " lire." But many interesting people wen-, present—members of the cast of O'Casey'e Red Roses for Me, at Hammersmith. Mr, Denys Blakelock, Mr. Cyril Cusack, over from Ireland to make a film, and Mr. Eugene Leahy, last seen austere himself in episcopal robes in Si. Joan. now vigorously leading the Interval Choir at Mass.