Page 1829 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Incorporated document

Attachment 1: Document incorporated by the Leader of the Opposition

For those of you accustomed to sleeping through homilies and after dinner speeches - go right ahead. You can read quite a bit of what I’m about to say at page 6 of the current issue of Catholic Voice.

I am blessed with a great wife, Berna. But she is always complaining that I am running late or that we shall be late for something because I’m too slow. But, in truth, I am rarely late though in most cases I am just on time. I must confess, however, that I was late for Benedict Lynch’s ordination almost 60 years ago.

Fr Lynch was ordained priest in Dublin on 24 June 1945. I did not arrive in Dublin until 10 days later. It didn’t matter much because I had not been invited to the ceremony: indeed, I didn’t then know that a person named Benedict Lynch even existed.

I spent virtually the whole of July, August and September of 1945 in Ireland where I had uncles, aunts and cousins galore in different parts of the country. That summer must have been one of the best that Ireland has had in living memory. Certainly it rained from time to time but, on average, less than once a week. In Cork and I believe in most other parts the hay was brought in right on time on - 15 August - the feast of the Assumption and VJ Day. The war in Europe had ended on my 21st birthday, 7 May 1945. And for a young fellow, far from his immediate family, but in the heart of his extended family and amongst new friends, this time in Ireland was 90 days approaching sheer bliss.

I’m sure Fr Lynch will remember that summer. Perhaps, he was with me and about 30,000 others at Croke Park for the all Ireland hurling final between, I think, Kilkenny and Tipperary. At all events, he was in Dublin that September studying at the UCD to complete a Degree in Arts and a Diploma of Education; and he was also a hurling player.

Fr Lynch was born on 11 April 1921 at the family farm “Deerpark” in Doora Co Clare. The Ireland of that time was far different from what it has since become. Between 1921 and 1945, there had been vast political changes - the Black & Tans, the Treaty and the birth of the Irish Republic, the Civil War, the Depression and World War 2. But by 1945, the economic situation of the country people had changed but little. For the small and medium farmers there was little or no money; theirs was a subsistence economy. Life was tough. The food monotonous -potatoes with a bit of yellow fat that they called bacon and cabbage every day except Friday. No bathroom; no toilet; no water to the house; no gas or electricity; at night, a turf fire and a candle, except on Sundays when the kerosene lamp would be lit. But the talk and stories around the fire provided entertainment that far surpassed the radio, the cinema and television all put together. I guess that it was in an environment something like this that Benedict Lynch grew up.

Fr Lynch’s parents were Michael and Ellen Lynch (nee Cahill). There were 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl, in the family. The oldest, Kevin, died in 1943 in Papua New Guinea; the daughter was to become Sr M. Eugene Lynch. She remained in Ireland. Next, Paddy, whom many of you will have met either in Doonbeg or whilst he was on one of his rare trips to Australia. Paddy entered the seminary of All Hallows in Dublin with Benedict; and like Benedict, he was originally destined for the Australian Mission. In God’s providence, however, he remained in Ireland as a

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .