Readers Stories, — May 25, 2009 8:59 — 0 Comments

Prejudice: Surprise Visitor

Our destination was my uncle’s home at Annamar.  Peader was recuperating from serious injuries received in a road traffic accident. 


He lived in the field next to the ancient fairy fort of Lisleitrim and I was always convinced he was a product of it. He was Darby O’Gill incarnate.

George was stony-faced, puritan and measured in speech and in taste.  Peader smoked, drank whiskey and swore so freely that it was an essential part of the man.  I led the former down to the lower room where the man-of-the-house was abed and I left them to it.  I closed the door behind me as I left. 


I had to go down later and practically drag George out. The two men were talking continuously, with clear prejudice, in different veins and on different topics. 


They established a lasting friendship.


But another visitor had arrived who was held in the greatest respect by everyone not just in that household but in all Ireland and in most countries of the world and by people of all religions.  Local man Tom Fee had been elevated to his vocation’s highest rank (short only of Pope) when he was ordained Cardinal of The Church.


I introduced George to his eminence Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich. When I got the chance to whisper privately to my father-in-law, I warned him not to raise religious issues.


[‘For your grandchildren’s sake’, I hissed. 


‘But John, we… ‘ he sounded disbelieving that I would let a chance like this go begging,


‘we… we could sort him out together’.


George was certain now that I was on the same side as him in the ‘religion’ matter. 


How I persuaded him to keep his own counsel, I’ll never know.]


Because we were peripheral to the visit’s purpose – the Cardinal’s sick call to his parishioner – we stayed mostly in the background and later George warmly described ‘Father Tom’, the name he always retained with his oldest friends, as a most interesting gentleman.


…more later …

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