By historian Gareth Russell. (2010)

The Fethard-on-Sea Boycott: Ireland, 1957

Fethard on Sea

Irish journalist Tim Fanning published his new book in 2010 –  The Fethard-on-Sea Boycott about a notorious sectarian dispute in Ireland in the late 1950s, concerning a Catholic father, his Protestant wife and their two young daughters. The events were previously dramatised in the controversial movie A Love Divided (1999) and Mr. Fanning’s well-reviewed book has re-ignited interest in the scandal which rocked Ireland – north and south – half a century ago. Having had the book recommended to me, I did some research into the original case and the story of the boycott is truly a fascinating one.

On a wet Saturday morning of April 1957 in the southern Irish town of Fethard-on-Sea in County Wexford, some local people spotted the family car of their neighbour, Sheila Cloney (30), accidentally backing into her own gatepost, before speeding off out of the town. In the back of the car were Mrs. Cloney’s two daughters – Eileen (6) and Mary (3). Their journey was the 176 miles to the Irish border with Northern Ireland.

When Sheila’s farmer husband, Seán, returned from work that evening, he was confused as to his wife and daughters’ whereabouts: he called over to Sheila’s parents, who lived nearby, but they had not seen her. Then, he visited her siblings, who also lived in the town – but, again, they had no idea where Sheila was and assumed that she had been at home with the children all day. Eventually, Seán reported Sheila, Eileen and Mary as missing to the Garda Síochona (the Irish police) and a search was started for the missing Cloneys.

At the age of thirty, there was nothing about Sheila Cloney that would have led anyone to think she would cause a scandal by fleeing her hometown without telling her husband or her parents. Like her husband Seán, Sheila had been born in Fethard-on-Sea, the daughter of a local cattle dealer and his wife. Along with the rest of her family, Sheila was raised as a member of Fethard-on-Sea’s small Protestant community – attending the local Church of Ireland, until she moved to Britain in her early 20s, finding work as a domestic servant in London shortly after the Second World War.

It was in London that she met her future husband, Seán Cloney, another inhabitant of Fethard-on-Sea, who had grown up on a farm one mile from Sheila’s and who had been over in England attending the funeral of an ex-pat relative in Suffolk. Hearing that a girl from back home was living nearby, Seán did as good Irish boys are supposed to and made the effort to go and call on her. Seán and Sheila began courting and fell in love, but because he was Catholic and she was Protestant, they decided to keep their budding relationship secret from their families back home in Ireland. When news leaked that Seán was “going” with a Protestant girl, his parish priest, Father William Stafford, retaliated by banning him from any of the Catholic recreational societies in the town – beginning by expelling Seán from the Catholic amateur dramatic society (the only society he had requested to join.) Deciding that if this was as bad as it was going to get they could probably learn to cope, Seán and Sheila were married in a civil ceremony at a registry office in London on October 8th 1949.

But Ireland being Ireland meant that news travelled fast and two months into their marriage, another parish priest was dispatched to track down the young couple and talk to them about the role Catholicism should play in their marriage. On the issue of converting to her husband’s faith, Sheila Cloney refused point-blank. Seeing that there would be no persuading her about joining the Catholic faith herself, the priest then asked if she would at least consider marrying Seán in a second ceremony – this time, a Catholic one – for the sake of her husband’s family back home. Sheila was reluctant even at this request, namely because doing so would require her to sign the Church’s Ne Temere decree, by which she promised to raise any children from the marriage as Roman Catholics, but Seán apparently assured her that even if she did sign the Ne Temere, any children they had together would have as much a Protestant upbringing as a Catholic one and when they reached maturity, they could decide for themselves which denomination to attend. Sheila signed, the Nuptial Mass was celebrated and, a few months later, Seán and Sheila Cloney returned to Fethard-on-Sea to live together as man and wife.

The problems in their marriage began a year later with the birth of their eldest daughter, Eileen. With Sheila still lying in recovery from the birth, the nuns who worked in the nursing home immediately took baby Eileen away to receive a Catholic baptism. Sheila was angry at this, although apparently accepted that the nuns had probably been doing it with the best intentions in the world and had been unaware of Mrs. Cloney’s wishes on the matter. However, just to be sure, when she became pregnant again the following year, Sheila specifically requested that any child she had would not immediately be baptised a Catholic. A second daughter, Mary, was born in 1953 and, again, this time deliberating ignoring the mother’s wishes, the nuns took the child away to be christened by the local priest.

When it came to Catholicism, Sheila Cloney’s back was now well and truly up and she was worried over the fact that her husband Seán had not prevented the nuns in taking both of their daughters for baptism at the maternity home, despite his earlier promises about the children’s religious upbringing. Between the baptism and the children beginning school, the issue simmered but as their eldest daughter, Eileen, reached the age of five, it once again reared its head – with a vengeance. Sheila feared that if Eileen was sent to the local Catholic school, all chances of her being able to make up her own mind when she was older would be gone, since on top of receiving a Catholic baptism, she would also receive a Catholic education, which would entail going through First Holy Communion and Confirmation, as part of the school ethos. On the surface at least, Seán Cloney agreed with his wife that this would be a step too far and for a few months, they debated what exactly to do about Eileen’s education. Aside from the religious issue, Sheila Cloney was also in favour of home schooling for children and she wanted this system of education for her children.

Throughout the spring of 1957 – the months immediately preceding Sheila’s escape to Northern Ireland – Catholic priests became regular visitors to the Cloney household, pleading reason and then applying pressure on the couple to send Eileen to the local Catholic National School. Finally, one day, Father Laurence Allen visited and it was right after his visit that Sheila Cloney took the decision to leave Fethard-on-Sea. It was also during Father Allen’s visit, I think, that she finally realised she did not have the support of her husband Seán, because at some unknown point Seán Cloney had changed his mind. Seán now agreed with Father Stafford and Father Allen and felt that Eileen should be sent to the National School.

Armed with this bombshell, Father Allen called to the Cloney house in the morning and Sheila offered him a cup of tea in the kitchen. With the obligatory pleasantries out of the way, Father Allen told her that given the fact that Catholicism was the official State Religion of the Irish Republic, Eileen was going to the local Catholic school and that was that – there was absolutely nothing Sheila could do about it. The State would back the Church every step of the way, especially since her husband would now offer no opposition to the idea. And with that, he got up and left, assuming the matter was finally settled. A few hours later, Sheila sped out of her driveway, with Eileen and Mary in the back seat.

Crossing the border on April 27th 1957, and reaching Belfast a few hours later, Sheila Cloney immediately contacted associates of the Reverend Ian Paisley, knowing that she could be certain of their support. She was right: the Free Presbyterian Church, zealous in hatred of all things Catholic or “Papist,” provided Mrs. Cloney with money, accommodation and tickets for her and her two children to emigrate to Scotland, where a new place to live had been prepared for them at the church’s expense. In the meantime, a heartbroken Seán Cloney, discovering what his wife had done, attempted to get his children back through the courts – however, given that Sheila had removed them to the United Kingdom, it was presenting a legal quagmire, especially since the Northern Irish Courts were taking enormous pleasure in being as difficult as possible in retaliation for the Republic refusing to allow the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary – the Northern Irish police service) to arrest republican trouble-makers once they crossed the border into the South.

Whilst Seán Cloney wept, the local clergy in Fethard-on-Sea had apparently still failed to realise that honey catches more flies than vinegar. On May 12th, Father William Stafford – who a decade earlier had banned Seán from the Catholic am dram society for marrying a Prod – let fly at Sunday Mass. Before the entire Catholic population of Fethard-on-Sea, he denounced Sheila Cloney for robbing her children of their chosen Faith and their father. Then, in an astonishingly vicious and unfounded move, he accused the Protestant community of Fethard-on-Sea of having secretly provided the funds for Sheila and the girls to run off to Northern Ireland. In retaliation, Father Stafford announced that it was now up to the Catholics of Fethard-on-Sea to exert pressure on the missing Mrs. Cloney by punishing those who had helped her escape – they were to boycott every Protestant business and every Protestant person in Fethard-on-Sea, until Sheila, Eileen and Mary returned.

The next day, the majority of Catholics in Fethard-on-Sea stopped going to the two local shops owned by Protestants. On Wednesday, the local Anglican school was forced to close when their only teacher (a Catholic) walked out. An elderly music teacher living alone in Fethard-on-Sea lost her dozen pupils (all Catholics), Catholic labourers told local Protestant farmers they could no longer work for them, and Catholics refused to buy milk from the local Protestant dairy farmers. The only Catholics who continued to buy from their Protestant neighbours, ironically, were the old retired IRA members, who had fallen out with the Church during the Irish Civil War. One octogenarian ex-IRA member took to following Father Stafford around after parish hall meetings, shaking his walking stick at him and lambasting him for his lack of patriotism – after all, the Prods were Irish too.

Within weeks, the Fethard-on-Sea boycott became a scandal in Ireland, on both sides of the border. Donations from Northern Ireland flooded in to Fethard-on-Sea to relieve the economic plight of the boycotted Protestants in the village and, to the horror of Irish patriots, their charity prompted John Percy Phair, the Protestant Bishop of Ossory, to write a public letter to The Belfast Telegraph, referring to Unionists as Irish Protestantism’s “friends in the North.” In subsequent sermons, Bishop Phair segued from praising the North to lambasting mixed marriages, citing the case of the Cloneys to prove that no Protestant could ever expect to be treated as an equal if they married a Catholic.

Unlike the Church of Ireland, the Catholic hierarchy in the Republic was initially quiet, both on the subject of Mrs. Cloney’s flight and Father Stafford’s boycott. The silence ended a month later, at a High Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Galway. Speaking from the altar, the Bishop said, “There seems to be a concerted campaign to entice or kidnap Catholic children and deprive them of their Faith. Non-Catholics, with one or two honourable exceptions, do not protest against the crime of conspiring to steal the children of a Catholic father, but they try to make political capital when a Catholic people make a peaceful and moderate protest.”

Eamon de Valera

However, despite his eloquence, the Bishop of Galway had badly misjudged the mood of the nation – outside of Fethard-on-Sea, the vast majority of Irish Catholics were disgusted by the boycott and embarrassed that financial assistance was coming to their compatriots from “The Black North” rather than from within. Most important of all the people who felt this way was Ireland’s leader, the Taoiseach Eamon de Valera(left), who condemned the Bishop of Galway’s speech and the boycott as “ill-conceived, ill-considered and futile.” In a speech to the Dáil Éireann (the Irish House of Representatives) on July 4th, De Valera begged people to consider what impact the Fethard-on-Sea boycott would have on Ireland’s reputation abroad.

Eight days later, on July 12th, De Valera was proved right, but far closer to home than he had ever expected. Astonishingly, the Taoiseach never seemed to question what the reaction would be in Ulster about the Fethard-on-Sea incident and he once again failed to appreciate the deep-rooted fears and prejudices of the vast majority of those who lived in “the Six Counties.” Had he been under any illusions before, however, De Valera and the entire South were woken up with a rude shock on the Twelfth of July, the high holiday of the Orange Order (below.)

Fethard on Sea2

The entire mood on the Twelfth that year was marked by thundering fury at the treatment of the Protestants in Fethard-on-Sea. Leading the attack was Lord Brookeborough, the aristocratic Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, who, in a fierce, venomous speech warned every Protestant in the country to look at the case of Fethard-on-Sea and realise what the fate of every single last one of them would be if Northern Ireland was ever swallowed-up into an all-Ireland Republic: every Protestant on the island would be bullied, intimidated and controlled by a Catholicism that was now less a religion and more an over-bearing, over-privileged arm of the State. It was perfectly possible for Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland to send their children to Roman Catholic schools of their own choice, but just look at what the flip side of the coin was for Protestants in the Republic of Ireland! As the Prime Minister reached the climax of his speech, he proclaimed that it would be the fate of every Protestant to become a second-class citizen if the unification of Ireland was ever brought to pass and for the first time since 1912, the cry went up from thousands of throats: “Ulster says No! Ulster says No!”

Prime Minister Lord Brookeborough, himself a life-long vicious anti-Catholic, had hit a nerve – not just with most Northern Irish Protestants, but also (unintentionally) with numerous wealthy and middle-class Catholics in the North as well. The Irish Republic was now being depicted in Northern Irish newspapers as not just economically backward (which was how it had always been presented before anyway), but also as culturally degenerate and morally spineless – a feudal, Pope-addled nightmare compared to the economic boom of Northern Ireland. Taoiseach De Valera’s plea that the Fethard-on-Sea boycott could do nothing but harm to Éire had come true to a degree that understandably horrified Irish nationalists north and south of the border.

With events spiralling out of control, a deal was organised to bring to an end the débâcle in Fethard-on-Sea, at the insistence of De Valera. The negotiations were chaired by Jim Ryan, the Irish Republic’s Minister for Finance, in his house in Dublin. By September, a solution had been reached, and one of the local priests entered a Protestant-owned newsagency in Fethard-on-Sea and bought a packet of cigarettes, signifying to the parishioners that the boycott was over.

Through the cruelty and stupidity of the boycott, including a crisis of diplomatic relations and the rising tide of sectarian tensions, Seán and Sheila Cloney, who had unwittingly started the whole thing, kept a low profile. Within weeks, it was no longer really about either of them, anyway. Instead, they had worked on saving their marriage. Shortly after Christmas, Sheila left her new house in Scotland and on New Year’s Eve 1957, she and her two daughters returned to the family home in Wexford.

In the years to come, Seán and Sheila were far more united as a couple than they seem to have been before. Eileen and Mary were home-schooled, as their mother had wished, as was their sister Hazel, born a few years after Sheila and Seán’s reunion. Seán Cloney remained a devout Roman Catholic his entire life, but in later years he began to compile a dossier on the activities of a local priest, Father Sean Fortune, who Cloney suspected had molested up to as many as seventy young people.


Despite being paralysed from the neck down after a terrible road accident in 1995, Seán Cloney continued in his attempts to expose Father Fortune’s sexual and financial misdeeds. Father Fortune eventually left the area, before being arrested and committing suicide whilst awaiting trial – a few weeks before Seán Cloney’s own death, at his family home in Fethard-on-Sea. And thus – in one of those fantastically curious coincidences that history loves – this unassuming, quiet Catholic farmer stood at the centre of two of the great catastrophes to rock Irish Catholicism in the 20th century and yet never lost his faith in the religion he believed in all the days of his life.


Seán and Sheila’s middle daughter, Mary, who was three at the time of her mother’s temporary migration to Northern Ireland, died in 1998, at the young age of 44, following liver failure. In the same year, the Catholic Bishop of Ferns issued a formal apology for the Church’s role in creating the Fethard-on-Sea boycott of 1957. Eleven years later, on June 28th 2009, ten years after her husband, Sheila Cloney was buried in a quiet ceremony out of Saint Mogue’s Church of Ireland Church in Fethard-on-Sea. The two other Cloney girls – Eileen and Hazel – still live in the area.

Writing of her death The Belfast Telegraph said, “She will be remembered by many for standing up to clerical bullies and raising her children as she saw fit.” Tim Fanning, the journalist, suggested that: “In some small way, the boycott marked the waning influence of the Catholic Church in the Republic. The bishops themselves recognised that they had failed to win over public opinion.” Whatever the truth of the matter (and the case continues to provoke debate) – whether one thinks Sheila Cloney was right to take a stand or that her husband and her community’s wishes were just as valid as hers, that she was unfairly bullied by the local authorities or that she knew what she had gotten herself in for by signing the Ne Temere in the first place, that Northern Irish Unionists were capitalising to the point of tasteless gloating on a national humiliation in the Republic or that they were simply offering assistance to a stricken community when no-one else would, or whether one thinks (as many do), that Sheila Cloney’s domestic dispute and the issue of the church-ordered boycott are actually two very different issues – the story of Sheila Cloney and one community’s crisis in the summer of 1957 is undeniably a fascinating window into an ugly and often unexplored era in Irish history.


Sorry for the long blog today. I just wanted people to really realise how the RC Church behaved in Ireland in the past.

The story speaks for itself.


Fascinating, Pat, I’d never heard of this.
Wait for someone to tell you that you’re ignoring the good the church does and not being balanced.


Catholics suffered horrible discrimination in every town and village of the black north, including loyal Larne. And given all the suffering caused in Ireland by Protestant planters and their descendants was it payback time.

Don’t forget that this was an era in which major Dublin companies such as Guinness and Jacobs wouldn’t employ Catholics. The Irish Times only got its first Catholic editor not so long ago, and well into the 1970s that newspaper still had “Protestants only” job adverts.


MC at 1:34
I know everything Polly
But I’m not going to tell you
I don’t want to upset you, you know how fond of you, I am.
Evviva Maria!


A bleak but fascinating way to end 2018. Thank heavens the power of many religious organisations and their leaders has been diminished, if not extinguished. With the later link with Sean Fortune, this is a salutary reminder that with unrestricted power and influence comes the ability to do much harm. That is why there always has to be the ability to question and challenge those in any kind of authority alongside the listening.


Teilifís Éireann has a fly on the wall documentary tonight at 7pm, going behind the scenes at the papal visit to the Free State. I wonder if Timbo features?


You can bet your sweet ass he will feature – big time. Sure wasn’t he the “brains” behind the great big flop? 🙂


Behind the scenes me aunt nellies bellybutton. It ll all have been stage managed. Enjoy the show but


DeValeras input is rich given that he consulted Cahill(a Jesuit) and McQuaid(later to become archbishop) on the constitution of the Irish Republic. De Valera also consulted the papal nuncio. Given this it is no wonder that The Catholic Church was given almost free reign in Ireland: a situation exploited by catholic clerics to carry out systematic abuse of all kind without fear of retribution from the state. Protestants became second class citizens, de facto sanctioned by the state. The “one true church” went on to dictate what way citizens lived and woe betide anyone who didn’t comply. A series of anti Christian measures were applied to ensure compliance. They thought that they were untouchable. This absolute power given to them led to some of the most heinous crimes being carried out against children, unwed mothers and others of a different faith. All of this was enabled by the state and covered up for fear of offending or sullying the name of the church. The state of the Catholic Church in Ireland today is the responsibility of no one but the Catholic Church. It became less of a Christian organisation and more of a fascist junta concerned with power and self preservation. Whilst things have changed dramatically, there still remains an element of this thinking within the catholic hierarchy in Ireland, north and south today. A reluctance to accept the new reality that citizens are no longer afraid of this institution and see its ugly head. Whilst Ireland once again begins to move forward, the Catholic Church is left hankering after the “good old days” when it could manipulate egotists like DeValera to allow it to control the country at any cost. Thank God that this will never be the case again. The Catholic Church has margianilised itself by its actions and deserves all the ridicule it has brought upon itself. The final piece of the jigsaw will be justice for those who paid the price of the Catholic Church in Ireland’s abhorrent fascist practices


Whatever it takes. But this time laws to restrict and moderate the influence of ALL Christian denominations, along with all other religions.
No state should ever be anything other than democratic and secular. And no religion should ever have hegemony within it.


were the penal laws not enforced by a state religion?
Also, being democratic and secular is surely no guarantee of peace.


Anonymous at 9:45

Rubbish! the FASCIST, state was the Black North where Catholics were second class citizens, get a grip and read the history.
Evviva Maria!


Read the history? What? Your historical revisionism?
That isn’t history, but fantasy.😆


MC at 1:52

Polly you’re just being nasty again, it is not revisionism but truth, I think you’re living in some sort of fantasy where everything Catholic is wrong.
Evviva Maria!


We British behaved appallingly in Ireland, and in Scotland too following the failure of the Jacobite resistance in 1745. There is still much revisionist work to be done on British Imperialism, which even today gets let off lightly as having been not such a bad deal for the colonized. The Reformation in England was about political and economic opportunism which had dire consequences for ordinary people. Northern Ireland was a stitch-up by and for the Unionists. However, in post-Home Rule Ireland the Catholic Church was given a free hand to do something better, to create a more just society predicated upon and foreshadowing the Kingdom of God. So what happened?


If Northern Ireland was a stitch-up by and for unionists, the Free State/Republic of Ireland was its counterpart: a stitch-up by and for nationalists/republicans/ Roman Catholic Church.
You ask what went wrong in the Free State/Republic of Ireland? Answer: The Free State/Republic of Ireland itself.
For historical (and largely human) reasons, both Northern Ireland and the Free State/Republic of Irealand were inevitably going to be highly problematic. Each, in its own way, was a Shakesperian tragedy, institutionally, its inherent flaws prophetic of its eventual self-destruction.


12.05 I agree with you Magna. I sometimes think the Irish chose barrabas over Jesus. Clergymen and republicans joined to help each other in the early 1900s to get what they wanted. So we had 1916, then our very own civil war, polarised politics, the division of the state, the 30 years troubles, church excesses and much more. Scotland never fired a bullet and they can have their independence anytime they want.



Culture of death? The institutional Roman Catholic Church has, for most of its existence, supported such a culture by its gross disrespect for the sacredness of human life.


That’s true, Magna, but they also supported respect for life in many ways. Just because we have a degree of corruption in clergymen doesn’t mean they are on the balance a negative force. There seems to be little recognition of those negative forces society might face if church is totally relegated to the margins.



The institutional Church has relegated itself to the margins of society through injustice, and criminality.

Whatever you may think of her, Marie Stopes was right when she described Roman Catholicism as a ‘tyranny’.

Institutional Roman Catholicism has never sought popular support, because its innate sense of privilege, self-belief, and entitlement would not allow it to appeal through its preaching; instead, it sought to command that others bend a knee to it in submission.

It’s colossal arrogance has landed it in the moral gutter. Nothing else.


Kindly explain further Anon @ 12:00.
I do not claim to understand your sense of the importance of the “Church” in curtailing the negative forces of society. But as your comment reads, perhaps it is reasonable to assume that you believe that “the church” is a bulwark against all kinds of malevolent forces being released? Could you assist by explaining why you believe this and the basis of your evidence?
And perhaps you could clarify which “church” you refer to, and/or if it is churches in general.


It’s true, though. Isn’t it? Or are you going to provide more than a juvenile sideshow by way of, er, intelligent reply?😆


MC at 2:01pm
Polly how am I not surprised that you admire that auld wagon Marie Stopes! I take it you’re aware of the fact that she like the Nazis was into Eugenics a very dangerous woman. I would rather submit to The Holy Church of that time than anything she proposed.
Evviva Maria!


In the country place where I grew up all the important, wealthy people were “Protestants” – landowners, big houses, house servants, different. Yes, they gave employment to locals on their farms and in their big houses but somehow you always felt beholden to them. Their sons and daughters went to Church of Ireland boarding schools. They were the respected ones while we, the Catholics were made feel inferior. It was their sense of being different and better that was very noticeable, yet, they were good at giving employment. I worked as a student on many such farms in the late 60’s/70’s. So I’m grateful for that. There have been many wrongs done by people of religious persuasions all through the centuries. In Ireland we know only too well the effects of British imperialism and rule. There are still residual effects present. The Fethard On Sea saga was horrible and was a most hurtful event for all concerned, the details being indicative of abuse of religiiys power and status. Considering our historical baggage, perhaps an episode like this was inevitable. In the townland where I grew up and appreciated the work opportunities given by the protestant community, today there is a remarkable ecumenical spirit among all church communities. We learn from our historical enmity, differences and conflicts. Some do but there are unfortunately those who delight in apportioning blame….


He is retiring in April as he is 75 Years of age, Fields is going in May and Walsh in September that’s the 2019
2020 Archbishop D. Martin in April and Brennan in June 2020.
However still awaiting Cork and Ross, Dromore, Achonry as well.


But, Magna, we don’t live in an all or nothing world. Emmanuel McCarthy s work on Jesus the non-violent lamb shows what we are missing out in the teaching of Jesus. Despite that the church generally has a huge pro life effect on the poor, the sick, the handicapped, the unborn, the aged and the dying. Abortion, to me, has more to do with materialism and sexual immorality, selfishness and pride. These things are the responses of the individual and are largely not as a result of poor church thinking.


As I said, you either respect the sacredness of human life in whole, or not at all. There is no halfway house here, no possibility of compromise without losing moral integrity. If you respect only some human life in this way, then don’t be surprised when others follow your aritrary example. This is precisely the kind of example, on human life, that has been set by the institutional Church for many centuries, and by other Christian denominations.

Jesus didn’t live in an all-or-nothing world either, but it didn’t compromise his teaching, nor his invitation to choose either God OR mammon. (We are not called to ride two moral horses at once.) Your moral standard, as a Christian, must be Christ himself, not an abstract all-or-nothing world.

Materialism, sexual immorality, selfishness and pride do facilitate abortion; but what makes it possible in the first place is the ambivalence to it on the part of traditional moral arbitrers, like Christian denominations. If the churches seek to be moral guardians, then they cannot reasonably complain when others follow their sometimes less than moral example.

It comes down to this: the churches cannot, Pontius-Pilate-like, wash their hands now of primary responsibility for growing indifference to human life, especially in the West. Because, historically, they all are well practised in it.


Bellarmine at 1.21, that’s a seriously biased post. The woman took refuge where she could find support and she was right. Put it this way, would a diocese in Ireland behave like that today? They certainly wouldn’t. And for the same reason, they wouldn’t call a Muslim a heretic today either. The church is in some ways journeying to a more healthy place.


Anonymous at 2:37
That’s your opinion, it is not mine, then or now. I stand by what I said.
Evviva Maria!


Bellamarine. You really have surpassed yourself. Your comments on this blog are indicative of a sad twisted individual. However there is an element of truth in your post regarding the black north. Two wrongs though do not make a right. Today’s blog is about what happened i the south of Ireland. Why then would you gloss over this abomination and fascist control of the populace in that jurisdiction by bringing up the situation in the North. Your failure to grasp the reality that is the sorry state of the RC church in Ireland is bewildering. You show your lack of knowledge by your inane postings and only embarrass yourself more. It’s time to face facts Bella. Your abusive church is on the wane and the chickens are coming home to roost


6.59: Danny D, there are worse abominable contributors than Bellarmine – Magna being monstrously more intolerable. The two of them irritate many on this blog. Bella is slightly easier to take….


Danny D 6:59pm
Thank you so much for the nice compliment. I feel the same about you whoever you are!
Evviva Maria!


Anonymous at 4:08pm
I am neither sad or twisted my remarks about the Black North are exactly as it was, not just an element.
Whither you and your likes think that the Church is on the wane I don’t. The Holy Church will never die it will be here till the end of time. Any chickens coming home to roost will probably be roasting next to you, guess where.
Evviva Maria!


Yes, Bella, the unholy church will be here to the end of time. So what? Evil will, too.

Longevity is meaningless, spiritually.


It is a very healthy development that Ireland is becoming more and more a secular country in its constitution, laws and society. That is important. It has largely broken away from its Catholic centred focus as a nation. it does not mean that there is no room for religion – certainly in the private sphere, and even in the public sphere as one view and opinion. But, religion of any colour or persuasion should not hold sway in the State.
So, I have great hope for what is happening in the Republic. I think the opening of Ireland to the EU over the last decades has enabled this transformation. If only the same could be said for the North, where bigotry and hatred and religious idiocy still prevails, it would appear. Particularly of the Protestant kind. Northern Catholics seems more like their Southern neighbours, somewhat enlightened, than they do their Protestant Northern neighbours.
In to this mix throw the complete collapse in credibility and integrity of the Catholic Church, particularly in Ireland, over the last decades. The Church has lost its right to lecture Ireland about anything. They may express a point of view, but it should be done in a humble way, not with arrogance and a sense of the right to be heard and obeyed. When the bishops and priests learn true humility, and have done sufficient penance for the individual and institutional sins and failings they have presided over, then they might be listened to a little more by us.
I do hope that +Armagh reads this blog and has the sense to realise how so many people feel about the Catholic Church. In terms of the faith, many still hold it dear. But in terms of the institution, people have a healthy scepticism and lack of respect for it. So, bishops, rather than telling us how wrong we are, why not ask yourselves why so many of us think and feel this nowadays. Look to yourselves, and look to how you have lead us in the past. Look to the clerical culture that you have wallowed in over decades. Then you might come to realise that the Holy Spirit might be trying to tell you something through us, the people. Perhaps. Maybe. But, it would be worth you giving that some consideration before you dismiss us out of hand.


MC at 11:26
Happy New Year Polly, my wish for you is that you repent and return to the bosom of Our Holy Mother the Church you will be so much happier. Just off to High Mass where I shall pray for that intention.
Evviva Maria!


Bella Bella Bella. Oh you poor blind Bella . Surely even you can see it. Oh more resignations today poor Bella. The ship that is the RC church has hit the iceberg. Soon the band on the deck that you are part of will play no more. Get into the lifeboat poor Bella. There’s room for everyone. You can’t fight the iceberg in the same way that you can’t fool God poor Bella. God is acting Bella. He’s had enough of the crap of the RC church. It’s time to get onboard God’s life raft Bella. The stinking ship is going down and it isn’t coming back up. “For as much as you do onto these little ones you do onto me” . God has seen what they have done and He is angry Bella. But He is also merciful. Get on to the life raft before it is too late and abandon the evil institution Bella. C’mon Bella. Ya know ya want to. Take that little step of faith Bella. Be the spokesperson no more. Especially now that even the Vatican one has resigned 😉


A happy and hilarious New Year to you all.
Bella, try not to be so tetchy and defensive. Be more like me: placid, and open to all points of view. (Well, those that agree with my posts.😆)
Make this your New Year’s resolution, Bella. And the flowers in springtime will look brighter, and smell sweeter.
And you’ll look much more raaaaavishing.😈


Having just read Magna ‘s end of year wishes to Bella, rather than address Bella myself, (I’ve given up!), may I just ask other’s views.
Is it possible that Bella is just so intellectually limited; so experientially stunted, and so emotionally unaware, that his/her/it’s comments (particularly the Eviva M finale), evidence an individual with so deeply embedded symptoms of obsessive neuroticism, (bordering on the psychotic spectrum), as to render Bella virtually impervious to any rational objective entreaty?
By contrast, Magna, while at times very OTT, evidences high intellectual functioning, scholarship and wit: all conspicuosly absent from Bella.
As has been said: just asking!


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