GABRIEL FALLON'S DUBLIN DIARY
IRELAND has suffered the loss of a great Christian 2gentleman in the person of Eoin O'Mahony, K.M. and barrister-at-law, whose sudden death mid-month came as a swift bereavement even to those who knew only at a remove the portly black-clad figure, the kindly silverbearded face, and the mellifluent Cork accent that from the microphones of Radio Eireann greeted the gathering of Ireland's far-flung clans.
Affectionately known as "the Pope." a nickname based on vocational wishes from his Clongowes College days, his skill as an orator at a brace of universities as well as in the lofty halls of King's Inns won him a veritable cache of gold medals.
Disregarding the law he ventured into politics but without success, being too honest and too gentle for the vagaries of that unholy trade. He definitively became an amateur genealogist, very much to the envy of most of the professionals. On the side he was noted for his advocacy of lost causes.
I first became friends with him over a decade ago at the official luncheon which opened the first Yeats International Summer School at Sligo where he delighted students from all parts of the world with his intimate and detailed knowledge of the families of the great. During recent years he was visiting Professor at the University of South Illinois, a fact which occasioned much correspondence between us on certain aspects of theatre.
He was an intimate ft'iend of the late Gilbert Harding, and television lost much in not arranging a series of confrontations between these embodiments of the gentle and the gruff.
Eoin was a poor man by the simple process of spending money freely; its function, he held, was to make others happy. He was a life governor of the Aged Poor Society.
He had a keen sense of humour; yet it was never directed against others. God rest you, Eoin, for being such an example to us; the very essence of a merry Christian gentleman!
Behan ban removed
THE NEWS that the ban on Brendan Behan's book Borstal Boy had been lifted was received understandably with a certain amount of good humour. One comment was: "It's almost comic." Brendan's book was published by Hutchinson's in hardback in 1958 and banned in Ireland in the same year.
In 1967 the book was dramatised by Frank McMahon and on presentation proved to be the greatest box-office success in the history of the Abbey Theatre. Under the Abbey's aegis it was seen in Ireland. north and south, in London (at the Aklwych) and in Paris (at L'Oddon). There is, of course, no theatre censorship in Ireland. (And judging by what appears on the paperback stands, even in shops not solely engaged in the book trade, some think that there is no book censorship either.) Many harsh things have been said about State censorship of books, but Captain Sean Feehan of the Mercier Press, Cork, in a recent interview in the Irish Times gave it as his opinion that "even in its worst days it was comparatively mild compared to that imposed by the Catholic Church."
"Canon Law," he continued, "provided in the past that a bishop could refuse an imprimatur for a book on grounds where it offended faith and morals. Some of the Irish bishops added another one to this — where it offended against Prudence — one which wasn't in Canon Law. Prudence covers everything. Time and time again I've had my books condemned by the Church and once I was threatened with excommunication. I told the fellow involved to go ahead—he didn't."
"State censorship," concluded the Captain, "is really piffling compared to the cruelties and inhumanities of Church censorship. But I must say that this is all changing now, and 'was* is probably the operative word in the whole question." Whether or not one agrees with the gallant Captain one is compelled to stand back and admire his moral courage, a rare commodity in this country.
IF IRELAND'S strike rate continues at the pace set during the opening months of this year then the number of manclays lost during 1970 seems likely to reach a record figure.
Vocational school teachers, cement workers, radio and television engineers are leading the field at the moment, with consequent unemployment—particularly in the building industry—for those affected by this stoppage of work. Bank officials are now threatening to work to rule if certain demands are not met; and there is more—much more— to come.
There are those of us who feel that if something more than notional assent had been given over the years to the social encyclicals issued by a succession of Popes, then strikes, official and otherwise, could have been reduced to a minimum in this overwhelmingly Christian country.
When that great Labour leader, James Larkin, whose anniversary occurs this month, was opin his fight for social justice by the majority of IreMscel churchmen, Leo's Rerum Novarum was already 22 years old! A chastening thought, surely.
MOST POLITICAL parties have their inward strains and stresses and these sometimes erupt to the surface. The forthcoming Dublin South-West by-election campaign to fill the seat held by one of Labour's stalwarts, the late Sean Dunne, has disclosed such an eruption. For Labour's official candidate, Mr. Matt Merrigan, finds himself faced at the hustings by the widow of his former colleague. Mrs. Cora Dunne also claims to represent official Labour.
The major opposing parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, are not shedding tears over this unusual confrontation. Each hopes to benefit from Labour's predicament. What led to this predicament only those within the ranks of Labour rightly know; but Mr. Merrigan's supporters are taking no chances, and it is indicative of the seriousness of the situation that all the Labour Party's "big guns," including the newly-acquired "intellectuals," are being moved in to cope with the situation.
War may or may not be (pace Clausewitz) the continuation of politics by other means; but this particular political ruckus sets a field that looks remarkably like war — the uncivil variety, of course.