The piece below arises from a TV programme featuring Edna O’Brien, Derek Jacobi, Bob Geldof and John Banville screened some weeks ago. The first part is autobiographical to illustrate the unique blessings enjoyed by most of my contemporaries in Ireland during the most murderous years of world history.

I was born lucky, Dublin in December 1941 in a country which was mostly at peace. I owe my luck to MacDonagh and MacBride and Connolly and Pearse and the majority of their fellow Irish men and women who soon ratified their actions of Easter 1916.
Thus I could be conceived and allowed uninterrupted life to birth and beyond while most of the earth was embroiled in murderous war.My luck extended to being educated by my parents and the Irish Christian Brothers, and, for a couple of years by the Holy Ghost Fathers and their lay fellow teachers. I was never subjected to sexual abuse by them or anyone else, though, like most of my contemporaries worldwide (not least in Britain) I was occasionally subjected to corporal punishment. It was never excessive and sometimes merited.

Though conscription for military service was almost universal, nobody in Ireland, North, South, East or West was subject to it, again thanks to MacDonagh (a close friend of my Grandfather Kennedy) and MacBride and Connolly and Pearse.

But affairs beyond Ireland did impinge on me very early, My godfather,Bill O’Connell, who had graduated as a doctor in UCC a few years earlier, and my godmother,
his wife Maev, my father’s youngest sibling, who had graduated with Bill could not travel to Dublin from England, By the grace of God proxies were found and I was not allowed grow up a heathen. Bill and Maev had been practising in England before the outbreak of war and Bill had then joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. I
understand he was the first medic from the Corps into Belsen on its liberation in in 1945.

Further East, my mother’s youngest sibling, Leo, two years her junior, had a cushy billet with the British Army in its impregnable fortress, Singapore, with its big guns
pointing out to sea, when the Japanese sneaked in through the jungle at its back. Leo did not survive. I was then six weeks old. Leo’s body was never found and for
years my mother hoped that he had survived and would come home.

But I have had a charmed life. So I could never collect a fat fee for a Misery Memoir. Sorry for that, folks!

But Dame Edna O’Brien is doing fine in the Misery Memoir Stakes.

Born in 1932 in County Clare to a well-off family she lists  her complaints. Her father used disappear on alcoholic binges. At least once, on his return, he asked her where her mother was and when not satisfied with her reply, punched her in the face. Not nice behaviour for a parent. Unfortunately nobody can choose a parent.

Her choice of a husband, a divorced German was unfortunate. He used violence on her and pocketed her earnings as a writer. But she split with him and today, nearly 89 she exudes good health and beauty.

Her biggest grouse is about a convent boarding school education where she wore a smart uniform to protect her from the elements and was required to display modesty,
rather than her pelt in her dormitory. She equates that regime to what she understands to be that of North Korea. Perhaps she has outlived her fellow students for there were none to corroborate her account.

I’m a dozen years Dame Edna’s junior. I have worked and played in Ireland and Britain with many ex-convent girls, of various religions, nations and colours. Few if any
showed  the signs of oppression or repression one might expect from a totalitarian upbringing.

No reasonable person would invite Sir Robert Geldof, who poses as a Ragged-Schooled Philanthropist, to expound about anything but he was given time to launch a foul-mouthed diatribe about the Catholic Church as if it were the only institution which has harboured and protected malefactors.

Geldof is 67 years old. His wife Paula and his daughter Peaches, between them never reached that age, Paula was 41 and Peaches 25 when they succumbed to drug
overdoses. Lady Bracknell might think one such episode unfortunate but two indicative of carelessness.

But Geldof is extremely careless. He talks a lot of Balls but seems unaware of the twin Anglican Bishops named Balls, one of whom Peter Wilfrid Balls,died inJune
this year, in a grace and favour mansion, a present from the Prince of Wales. who was aware of his conviction and imprisonment for the sexual abuse of minors. I’ll
return to that at some length but first might mention that not everyone kissed by the Prince has enjoyed equal longevity.

Princess Diana was killed at the age of 37.

Geldof’s contribution to the BALLSFEST was strangely myopic. He has been long settled in England the souce of the following story – and would have us believe
that Catholicism is totally and uniquely evil and other denominations entirely without fault.

“PETER WILLFRID BALL (1932-2019) was a British Bishop in the Church of England and convicted sex offender.
In 1960 he and his twin brother (Michael Ball) established a monastic community, the Community of the Glorious Ascension, through which Ball came into contact
with many boys and young men. He was suffrage Bishop of Lewis from 1977 to 1992 and the Diocesan Bishop of Gloucester from 1992 to 1993. When he resigned
after being cautioned for sexual abuse, he continued to officiate at several churches ater that.

In October 2015 Ball was sentenced to 32 months’ imprisonment for misconduct in public office and indecent assault after admitting the abuse of 18 younger men over a period of 15 years from 1977 to 1992.Further charges of indecently assaulting two boys aged 13 and 15 were allowed to lie on file in a contentious decision
by the Crown Prosecution Service. He was released in February 2017 and died two years later.

After his resignation Ball was given accommodation at “Manor Lodge”, Aller, Somerset, on the Duchy of Cornwall estate of Charles, Prince of Wales. George Carey, who was then  Archbishop of Canterbury allowed Ball to continue officiating as a priest, but not as a bishop. Peter Hancock. Bishop of Bath and Wells, was critical of Ball being allowed to serve in the Langport area after his retirement.”

The above is an extract from a Wikipedia piece which is long and makes sad reading. One youth was told that yielding to Ball’s ministrations was an act of commitment
that would lead to his ordination.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby commissioned an enquiry which established that senior members of the Church had protected Ball for over
twenty years.

It gives me no pleasure to learn that the Church of England, which has hundred of millions of good-living  Christians, also harbours many complete rotters.  

Geldof, I understand, has a “Celebrity Net Worth” of $150,000,000.  His opinions on history, current affairs, vice and virtue are not worth a damn. His philanthropic reputation I suspect, is no more merited than that of King Leopold of the Belgians which was exposed as fraudulent by Roger Casement, who, like Geldof was from South Dublin.

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