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Come Holy Spirit

Where Thou art not, man hath nought
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew,
On our dryness pour Thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray

See here for a Pentecost sermon about Ireland as it approaches a dreaded referendum.

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Gagged by Google

I’ve updated this post a number of times since I first posted it yesterday morning.  I’m afraid I wrote it originally as a knee-jerk response to some bad news, and I didn’t take enough time to check my facts before publishing.  I have perhaps given the impression to some of my readers that Google and Facebook have unfairly targeted pro-life campaigners.  In this particular case they have blocked ads from both sides.  I’m sorry if my original post was misleading.  I will try my best not to make a similar mistake in future.  The fact remains, however, that this censorship affects the pro-life side disproportionately because the mainstream media (and all the political parties bar one tiny one) in Ireland are firmly pro-abortion, and the Internet is one of the few publicity tools left to the pro-life campaigners.

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In the run up to the referendum here in Ireland, Google and Facebook have decided to block related ads.  Pro-life campaigners have been forced to switch to other mail services and outlets (like FrontPage.org) to spread their message.  It is now up to small independent writers, like me, to help promote the pro-life content.

The Yes side of this referendum is big on euphemism: ‘reproductive rights’; the ‘right to choose’ (choose what?); and the most nauseating of all – ‘abortion care’.

At the heart of the exercise is an immense evasion: the baby. It is as if the baby is a kind of cancer, to be eliminated, chopped off, expunged.

Another word for ‘euphemism’ is ‘lie’. This is a referendum of lies. Not, as we are sometimes told, lies on both sides but lies on only one side: the side that seeks the slaughter of innocents but will not come right out and say so. We are enjoined to be polite, to keep the debate ‘respectful’, to avoid ‘shock tactics’, but these injunctions invariably come from the people who are engaged in the telling of these colossal lies. ‘Shock tactics’ means the truth. Keeping the debate ‘respectful’ means avoiding mention of the truth.

If you want to read the rest of the article, click here.

I sometimes use a search engine called Yandex.com because it’s, well, it’s not Google. I have also switched my main mail account from Gmail to Yandex mail. The mail works great but the search engine is not as clever (IMO) as Google… yet.

I don’t think this blog is in any danger because my audience is too small but if I do disappear in the near future you’ll know why. By the way, talking of disappearing, I’ve been having problems with my WordPress app for the last few months. I read and “like” my readers’ blog posts but when I go back next time my Likes have disappeared. So if you feel like I’m ignoring you that might be why. The Likes stick if I do them on the previews in the Reader but that means I can’t see the full posts. So, anyway, there’s a fix, it just means I have to remember to go back to the preview after I’ve read your posts. I don’t always remember, so sorry about that.

Irish Babies Need Your Prayers

Please watch this video.  It doesn’t contain any distressing images but it’s hard to watch without crying.  Ireland’s future as a caring nation is in jeopardy.  Please pray that its people vote to protect their most vulnerable citizens.

Why Ireland Must Save The 8th

Happy St. Brigid’s Day

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This is my first St. Brigid’s Day as a Christian and I’m in Ireland so I couldn’t let the day pass without making a St. Brigid’s cross.  People usually make these out of freshly cut field reeds but I, always having to be different :p, made my first cross at a class today out of something else.  I was so excited at the prospect, and the class was so chaotic, that I didn’t really catch what kind of reeds these were.  What I do know is that the demonstrator cut them herself at the end of last summer and she had to wear chest-high waders to get them.  Good woman!  She might have said ‘bulrushes’ but don’t quote me on that.  She told us that they can last for hundreds of years.  People used to use them to make household items, and she still uses them to make things that she sells for a living.

This is the kind of weather we’re having in Ireland lately

The video I posted here originally has been deleted so if you’re still interested you can find it by clicking here.

Woodland Walk

I’ve lived in Ireland for about 15 years now, and I’ve been looking for a particular kind of walking trail for all those years.  Now I’ve finally found it, and it was almost on my doorstep.  I can’t tell you how happy I am.  I haven’t had a chance to explore it properly yet but I took a few photos to show everyone.  The walk goes past the round tower and ruined church that I shared on this blog on St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Round Towers

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to do a post that was somewhat related to him.  I feel a sort of affinity for Saint Patrick.  Like me, he was born and raised in Wales but captured by Irishmen and dragged over to Ireland where his spirituality blossomed.  I’m exaggerating somewhat, for effect, but you get the idea I hope.croptower

Since I moved to Ireland in 2000, I have wondered about the round towers that one sees dotted about the landscape.  Above is a photo of one at Turlough that I took last year. I was driving past it regularly back then, and one night there was a full moon which I wanted to capture.  I’m not a particularly good photographer but I think it looks kind of atmospheric.   It is claimed that Turlough Abbey was founded by St. Patrick in 441 A.D.

Up until I read about round towers in “The Golden Age of Irish Art” by Peter Harbison a few days ago, I thought they were for protecting people and valuables from raids by Vikings and other marauders.  However, according to Harbison, the towers actually provided very little protection from that kind of attack.  The floors and stairs of the towers were wooden, so a single, well-aimed fire arrow through a window could destroy the whole contents in a fiery inferno.  The doors are raised several metres off the ground but I think this was probably to prevent opportunist burglary and access by animals.  Here is a summary of what Harbison says about round towers.

About 65 round towers survive in various states of preservation on Ireland’s ancient monastic sites.  Considerable discussion has arisen on the purpose and date of these towers, and most would agree that they had multiple functions.  The first reference we have found in Irish historical sources is to a tower at Slane, Co. Meath, which was burned by the Vikings in 950 A.D.  The towers are visible from a distance and probably served as a beacon to weary pilgrims.  The old Irish word for the towers was cloicthech, literally a bell-house.  It is possible that the towers were used to store bells that pilgrims carried, and later on to store larger bells which may have been rung in the towers, but the evidence is scant.  Other valuables were probably also stored in the towers.

Here are some photos of another local tower, this one ruined.  If you click on one of the photos it will take you into a slideshow.

Here is one final picture of Turlough tower that I took last year from the grounds of the National Museum of Country Life.

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Sunday Stroll

Mayo of the Saxons

This is just a brief aside related to the name of my blog.

MayoAbbey1

I’ve just returned from a short retreat in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland.  It’s strange that I had to go to a different county to learn something new about my adopted home county of Mayo (no condiment jokes please 😉 ).  The closing speech of the retreat informed us that the full name of County Mayo in Gaelic is Maigh Eó na Sacsan, which means ‘Yew Plain of the Saxons’.  Apparently, this name was used right up until the seventeenth century.  It seems that the Saxons thought that this remote, windswept county was a perfect place to send their monks.  The speaker at the retreat was suggesting that we shouldn’t be surprised to be learning Thai Buddhism from an English monk in Ennis because Ireland has had a long history of this kind of thing.  He put it more eloquently than that though!