Post-retreat Retreat

I’ve been on retreat with my good friends the Benedictine Monks in Rostrevor, Co Down. So time for a couple of days in Donegal with Alison.

It is, as Michelin Guide would say, hors saison. Which means that Dunfanaghy is very much more like itself than it is when the visitors are here. First up are the surging endorphins. I drove up a dark country lane on my way back from the shop and found about thirty people running and walking – apparently most of the younger members of the population have become fanatical about running, walking and weigh-ins.

Today we retreated (again) for a quiet pint in Molly’s Bar and discovered that it was the local centre for the betting community. One punter was wearing two pairs of glasses simultaneously – the better to watch the 1.50 at Towcester. Bets placed with the barman and phoned through.

So I committed myself to a pint-long perusal of the Irish Times. As always, it majors on low standards in high places. No problem filling the paper with that – Anglo-Irish Bank and the administration of the Fixed Penalty Scheme in which the word ‘fixed’ seemed to have acquired a certain elasticity. Then there is the future of U2 …

Two pieces did catch my eye ..

One was a piece by Diarmuid Martin, who is the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin and always worth listening to. He was writing about the first anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. Two quotes from the 500 words which the future Francis shared with the meetings of Cardinals before the Conclave. ‘The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries’. ‘If the church does not reach out to evangelise, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. A self-referential church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out’

The other was the extraordinary story of Eddie O’Hare. Appropriately enough, Eddie acquired the patent for the electric hare, on which greyhound racing depends, in 1927 from its inventor Smith. In those exciting times, he ended up running a series of dog tracks for Al Capone. Rashly, he decided to assist the Justice Department with an investigation into Capone’s tax affairs which landed Capone in jail. O’Hare was murdered in retaliation in 1939. His son went on to become a legendary pilot hero of the US Navy – after whom O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is named. I missed a flight there once. I wish I’d known

I’ve also forgotten what won the 1.50