Posts Tagged ‘belfast’

350 YEARS OF RELIGIOUS LIFE


2012
07.18

Maire McCluskey, Sr Nuala SSL, Fr Peter OMI, Sr Ethna SSL, Canon Brian McCluskey & Una McMahon

A County Monaghan family has marked  a significant milestone in the Catholic church in Ireland, with over 350 years between them in religious life. There was double cause for celebration at the St Louis Convent in Dundalk as two of the McCluskeys from Inniskeen, a priest, Fr Peter, and a nun, Sr Ethna, held their diamond (60) and platinum (70) jubilees respectively. Mass was concelebrated by their youngest brother, Canon Brian, a priest for 52 years.

Sr Ethna McCluskey entered the Louis convent in Monaghan in 1942, 100 years after the order was founded in France. Her brother Peter who studied at St Macartan’s seminary in Monaghan entered the Oblate fathers (O.M.I.) in 1945 and was ordained on June 22nd 1952. Sr Ethna trained as a national teacher at Our Lady of Mercy College, Carysfort in Dublin and went on to teach at the St Louis Convent in Rathmines. For many years she was Principal of the Girls’ National School in Clones before taking up a similar position in Dundalk. Her final appointment was as superior of the St Louis Convent in Kilkeel, Co.Down. Since her retirement in 2004 she has been residing at the Convent on the Castleblayney Road in Dundalk, a few kilometres from her family home at Blackstaff in Inniskeen. The poet Patrick Kavanagh was a near neighbour. Canon Brian recalls how he used to borrow books from his mother’s private library at the local national school where she taught. Fr Peter’s first posting as a missionary priest sixty years ago was to South Africa. His journey by cargo boat to Cape Town took three weeks. He worked in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg from 1952 until his return to Ireland in 2007. He witnessed the end of the apartheid regime in 1994 and the election of Nelson Mandela as President.

Sr Ethna McCluskey

Sr Ethna is the eldest of the family of eight. Six of them gathered at the convent in Dundalk for the Mass celebrated by Fr Peter, who since 2007 has been living at the Oblate house at Inchicore in Dublin. Joining him at the altar was his younger brother Canon Brian McCluskey, a retired priest of the diocese of Clogher, who served as a curate in his home parish of Inniskeen and was a parish priest in Threemilehouse and later Roslea. He now lives in Belfast with his sister Maire, who worked for the Northern Ireland orthopaedic service. Canon McCluskey studied at the Irish College in Rome and celebrated his golden jubilee two years ago along with his classmate, Monsignor Ambrose Macaulay. He still says Sunday Mass at St Brigid’s parish. They were joined by two other sisters Una McMahon, a retired nurse living in Belfast and Sr Nuala, a St Louis nun now retired and living at the Convent in Dundalk with her older sister Ethna. She worked on the missions in Nigeria for many years and in 1985 was appointed to take charge of the Louis House nursing home in Monaghan. She has been a nun for 57 years. Following the Mass, members of the family and friends gathered for a meal at a local restaurant.

Fr Peter McCluskey OMI concelebrates with Fr Brian

Two members of the family, both with 59 years in religious life, were unable to be present. Fr Gerry McCluskey is a Kiltegan priest who has been based in Sao Paolo, Brazil, since 1961. Previously he served as a missionary in Kenya. He is also a former pupil of St Macartan’s seminary in Monaghan, like his two brothers. Sr Aileen is a Mercy nun who is in Dublin and like her brother Fr Gerry is just one year short of her diamond jubilee. The five sisters were all boarders at the St Louis convent in Monaghan. So the total contribution of the McCluskey family to religious life reads as follows: Sr Ethna SSL 70 years, Fr Peter OMI 60, Sr Nuala SSL 57, Fr Gerard SPS 59, Sr Aileen RSM 59 and Canon Brian 52 years, giving a combined total of 357 years’ service to the Catholic church.  Ad multos annos.

 

Copyright: Michael Fisher @fishbelfast 2012 This story has appeared in the Northern Standard (front page), the Irish Catholic, the Dundalk Democrat and the Monaghan Democrat edition, as well as the Dundalk Argus.

Fr Peter &  Sr Ethna

Fr Peter & Sr Ethna

Sr Ethna & 3 sisters

Northern Standard

Dundalk/Monaghan Democrat

 

Sr Nuala & Fr Peter

St Louis nun & Sr Ethna

The Argus, Dundalk

Irish Catholic

IRISH ARMY AT HILLSBOROUGH


2012
06.30

Trumpeters from the Irish Army

Another historic week in Northern Ireland. Two days after Queen Elizabeth stayed at Hillsborough Castle during her diamond jubilee celebrations, the Defence Forces (Irish Army) No. 1 Band appeared at an official engagement in the North for the first time. Two trumpeters sounded a fanfare as the Lord Lieutenant for Belfast Dame Mary Peters arrived at the front entrance. A location that has been the setting for several important events during the peace process. Under the baton of Lt Colonel Mark Armstrong, Director of the School of Music, the band entertained guests at Hillsborough at a garden party. The event was the climax in a year of celebrations for Belfast Rotary Club, marking its centenary. The band combined at one stage with the Abbey Singers from Newtownabbey in a good example of North/South co-operation. The North’s Justice Minister David Ford was among the guests.

Lt Col Mark Armstrong & David Ford MLA, NI Justice Minister

He took the opportunity to congratulate the band on their appearance. Over 600 guests attended the charity event, with 75% of the takings going towards Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign and the balance going to local charities. The band played a selection of tunes including marches and they delighted the large attendance. Guests were also able to enjoy a stroll in the Castle grounds as the entertainment took place. Happily the sun shone as the band played. The Rotarians included the current Belfast President Dr Adrian Kerr and the incoming President Alan Rundle, whose father was President fifty years ago. Alan is an optician and I should declare an interest as he is the person I get my glasses from! I passed on the congratulations of Belfast Lions Club on this special occasion. I was also pleased to meet my former neighbour from Ardilea in Dublin, Mark Doyle, who is President of Dublin Rotary Club.

Belfast Lions Club President Michael Fisher & Dublin Rotary President Mark Doyle.

Like the Lions, both Dublin and Belfast have long-standing ties and the event at Hillsborough has served to strengthen North/South ties.  It was nice to meet several Rotarians from the Republic. The District Governor for Ireland Barney Callaghan is from Limerick and there were also members there from Wexford and Dun Laoghaire.

Belfast Lions President Michael Fisher & Rotary President Dr Adrian Kerr

PAT FINUCANE CASE & DEALING WITH THE PAST


2012
04.20

Speaking at an engagement in Belfast at the University of Ulster, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeated his support for a full public enquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane. The well-known solicitor was shot dead by the UFF in front of his family at his home in North Belfast on February 12th 1989. It was one of the murders I reported on during the troubles and this was among the most high-profile cases. Standing beside the police cordon a well-known BBC reporter came over to me and my cameraman and said “you know who it is?”. He then told me it was Pat Finucane. I had interviewed the lawyer a few times, including at a controversial inquest at Craigavon courthouse. According to the BBC’s Political Correspondent Martina Purdy, Mr Kenny said relations between the British and Irish governments had never been closer, but there were areas where there was a difference of opinion. Paying tribute to Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine for the way she has campaigned with “great dignity and courage”, Mr Kenny said he supported her in the campaign for a full public inquiry into the killing.

Geraldine Finucane addressed an ICTU-NI fringe meeting in Derry.

An emotional Geraldine Finucane told a well-attended fringe meeting of trade unionists in Derry on Tuesday night that dealing with her husband’s case was an absolute necessity if progress is to continue in Northern Ireland. Mrs Finucane said she had no confidence in a Cory2 process suggested by the British government into her husband’s murder.  She told the meeting the way the Prime Minister David Cameron dealt with the issue showed that the promises of the British government can easily be broken. Clearly still affected by the circumstances of last October’s meeting in London, Geraldine Finucane said she and her family had been lured to Downing Street under false pretences by a disreputable government led by a disreputable man. She said the let-down by David Cameron over the prospect of a full enquiry was one of most cruel & devastating experiences she had had since her campaign began. As RTÉ News reported at the time, Mr Cameron proposed that instead of the full inquiry into allegations of security force collusion suggested by Judge Cory, that a QC should undertake a review of the case. Mrs Finucane had been told in late summer that the Prime Minister wanted to meet her and she said she had been encouraged at the time by the offer of engagement with her family, following the lengthy delay in following up a commitment made originally to the family in the Weston Park talks in 2001.

Alan McBride from the WAVE trauma centre in Belfast who lost his wife and father-in-law in the IRA Shankill bombing also spoke about his own experience. He said the past was not going to go away and he supported the Finucane family’s right to have a full public enquiry. Alan also described how on a visit to the United States alongside some republicans, a former IRA man had told him he was sorry for the Shankill bomb and what happened was wrong. He had helped to humanise his loss, he said, and had acknowledged my pain. Former ICTU President Inez McCormack also addressed the meeting. As NI Secretary of UNISON she had helped to set up the handshake in West Belfast between the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and President Mary Robinson in June 1993 at Rupert Stanley College. I remember that occasion as one when the media were kept firmly outside the door in order to ensure that no pictures of the handshake were taken. Yet it was a defining moment in the lead-up to the IRA ceasefire the following year. Here is one account of the occasion from the Independent.UPDATE: The News Letter reports that the Taoiseach’s comments were strongly criticised by the UUP chair Lord Empey and MLA Danny Kennedy.

HORSLIPS ON TOUR


2011
04.24

Horslips concert in Belfast

Horslips were always one of my favourite bands. In 2009 when they got together again after a thirty year gap since their last live concert, they played in front of packed audiences in Belfast and Dublin. Twelve months on they were back again, this time at the O2 in Dublin followed in quick succession by Belfast (December 1st 2010). I left it a bit late to buy tickets for the Waterfront Hall gig and ended up on the second floor, up in the “gods” as it were. There were more than a few empty seats at that level. Although the overall view was fine and the sound was good, it did not enable me to see the members of the band in any detail. So I would recommend these fine profile photos by Daragh Owens (copyright) which convey the atmosphere in front of the stage really well. Those who chose to stand and dance or rock along to the music seem to have enjoyed themselves immensely. I could not help noticing the profile of the audience. Most were like myself, in the 50+ age group and showing definite signs of middle-age spread!! The ageing rockers were there to relive the glories of youth. Horslips did not disappoint. There were the usual favourites, including my own, Dearg Doom from The Táin. The lyrics can be found here.

Man who built America

Then came The Man who built America. This was one of the tunes when the lighting (a mixture of blue, white and red) matched the lyrics really well. The original album released in 1978 was produced by Steve Katz of Blood, Sweat and Tears and Blues Project fame. It concerned Irish emigration to the USA and was commercially their most successful album (Wikipedia). For some of the numbers the five lads were joined by three female backing vocalists and a three piece brass section (trumpet, trombone and saxophone). Another tune when the lighting effects blended really well with the music was Sideways to the Sun.

Sideways to the Sun

Sun symbols appeared intertwined with the name of the group.  All in all a great experience. Thanks once again to Barry Devlin, Jim Lockhart, Charles O’Connor, Johnny Fean and his brother Ray who stood in once again for Eamon Carr on the drums. His drum kit was unusual with what looked like two helter skelter type sets of cymbals perched above the main drums. Horslips were back at the Waterfront on St Patrick’s Day 2011 in a live BBC Radio Ulster concert with the Ulster Orchestra. It sounded great but I was one of the unlucky ones in the ballot to get free tickets. The venue was full. Another great night to savour. Alf McCreary gave this verdict in the Belfast Telegraph, rock and reels on a night of true magic. He awarded them four stars out of five for their performance (new page). More recently I have been watching the TG4 series Horslips Rotha Mór an tSaoil The Man Who Built America: Barry Devlin and Jim Lockhart re-trace the steps of Donegal man Micky MacGowan whose memoirs ‘Rotha Mór an tSaoil’ inspired the band to write some of their finest work. From the Steel Mills of Bethlehem to the gold fields of the Klondike the two perform some of the Horslips music inspired by Micky and his journey. Well worth watching. Finally another memory from the Waterfront Hall concert in December:

Green lighting this time

JIM DOUGAL RIP


2010
10.18

Jim Dougal 1945-2010

He was a kind boss. A gentleman and a gentle man, as John Dunlop described him. Jim Dougal was buried after a requiem Mass attended by hundreds of people at St Brigid’s church, Derryvolgie Avenue in South Belfast. Jim had the distinction of working for all three major broadcasting organisations in Northern Ireland, UTV, BBC and RTÉ, where I knew him for seven years as Northern Editor until he joined BBC in 1991. He battled cancer in recent years and his death at the age of 65 is sad loss for our profession. One of his achievements while at RTÉ was to find a place for unionists to put their case to an audience in the Republic. Former MP Ken Maginnis was among the politicians who attended the Mass. Another was the former SDLP leader John Hume. The fact that a Protestant minister, former Presbyterian Moderator John Dunlop, was chosen to give the address was a sign of how Jim had always done his best to reach across the religious divide. His children gave fine tributes about their Dad at the end of the Mass. Burial took place in Carryduff. To Deirdre and all his relatives, deep sympathy on your loss. May he rest in peace.

A BELFAST WELCOME


2010
07.30
Hi ye daen! I was away over the 12th, unlike last year when I stayed to watch the main orange order parade in Belfast. Returning home to the Lisburn Road I find more changes. Some businesses have closed in the past year because of the economic downturn. Last month I called into the butchers only to discover that the nearby greengrocers shop had shut permanently. But others have come to take their place, especially in the hospitality sector. I have not done a survey but there are now several eateries in the area including pizza restaurants, some of them situated alongside each other. A well-established one has been joined by at least three rivals and some more further down the road, towards the city centre. Take-aways, fish and chip shops, coffee shops, a tea room and sandwich bars also thrive as well as other types of restaurants. Who would expect a queue outside a coffee shop on a Sunday evening, as happened on at least one occasion. No doubt a sociologist could tell us what this means about the eating habits of local residents! I have just returned from lunch at one of the new pizza restaurants but I will not offer a review here. One positive sign was that when I complained about the taste of the glass of red wine I ordered, it was replaced with another type. It is sometimes difficult to find a good restaurant with a reasonably-priced menu. But when I was in Littlehampton in England this week where I stayed overnight, I discovered a very good fish restaurant at 9pm in the evening, thanks to a recommendation from the bed-and-breakfast owner. In fact the dinner there (scallops starter & fish curry main course, with 2 pints of beer) worked out only £3 more expensive than my Belfast lunch (bruschetta, prawn pizza and a red wine).
Fógra:
This blog page is in its infancy, so please be patient while I construct it. Comments (and followers!) are welcome. In the meantime I continue tweeting @fishbelfast. Go raibh maith agaibh/Danke sehr/Merci/Thanks

NUJ ON PARADE


2010
07.20

Here are some pictures from the May Day parade in Belfast. An NUJ group took part with the union banner, marching behind the SIPTU float. These pictures were taken as we passed City Hall on Saturday 1st May 2010.

For more details see the National Union of Journalists (new window)

HELLO BELFAST!


2010
07.03

 

Front steps at entrance to Parliament in Belfast

Parliament Buildings at Stormont

The marvels of new technology! This page is at an early stage of construction, starting today. I am looking forward to an NUJ training course in London later this month on web page development. Please be patient as I learn some NEW TRICKS. Which reminds me. The BBC series is now running on RTÉ1 on Saturday nights (10.35pm). It’s always interesting to spot how many clues there are as to the team Brian (Alun Armstrong) supports. It happens to be the same as mine, AFC Wimbledon. So look out for the scarf, the mug and the (early) team photo in the office scenes. It’s great to see the Dons embarking on only their second season in the Conference Premier league, with a mainly full-time squad. There will be plenty more about them on these pages over the coming season as I attempt to make more use of my season ticket. Still on sport and Wimbledon in particular, I’m now going to watch the womens’ final on TV between Serena Williams (USA) and Vera Zvonareva from Russia. Could be a good match.