Paddy’s Day

A quick trip to Dublin to preach at the St Patrick’s Day Eucharist at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Quite an event really. The Friendly Brothers of St Patrick were inside. If you click on the link, you’ll understand why they all sounded as if they came from Perthshire – so I felt quite at home. Meanwhile outside the Cathedral was the end of the St Patrick’s Day Parade with all sorts of stuff which really belongs on Fifth Avenue, New York. We had lunch in the Deanery beneath the portrait of Dean Swift and then headed for the Phoenix Park for a Reception with the President – photo to follow later when I can get it. Last time I was there was during the July marching season with a group of Portadown Orangemen. Now that was a fascinating day! She talked about this as the first St Patrick’s Day since the formation of the new Administration in Northern Ireland. A very good quote from Ulster poet, John Hewitt: ‘We build to fill the centuries’ arrears.’

The preaching was interesting – just to get back to the mechanics of this strange art for a moment. The Service was broadcast on RTE so I was given eight minutes. I wrote a script which was 750 words – slightly more than twice what I use for a two-minute Thought for the Day on radio and about 25% more than I write for a ‘normal’ Sunday. I used seven and a half minutes. Which tells you that preaching on radio in a Cathedral is an awkward compromise between declaiming and sitting at a table talking.

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