Letters to the Editor

Miracles are absurdities which can't be verified by reason or evidence

In response to Sean Taggart (October 30), I must tell him that having researched the incident at Knock for many years I have long since arrived at the inescapable conclusion that a Church in deep crisis resorted to the lowest levels of deceit and trickery to dupe and fool its followers – and restore its shattered reputation and diminished authority among the local community.

Like Sean I have also read both the witness statements and the biography of Archdeacon Cavanagh. And it all points to a disgraceful deception that was planned, executed and covered up by the clergy with cunning and efficiency.

And at no time did I ever even consider his own belief that this village in Co Mayo hosted a miraculous visitation from the Virgin Mary, St Joseph and John the Evangelist on that August evening in 1879.

Miracles are absurdities which cannot be tested or verified by either reason or evidence. They merit no discussion. The only relevant questions are about the role of the clergy, and Archdeacon Cavanagh in particular, in this grubby enterprise.

Sean is right though about the French connection. But General Humbert and his French troops left Ireland 80 years earlier after their defeat at Ballymuck.

And he is right also about the major battle for the hearts and minds of the people between the Church and the Land League – but wrong about who was winning that battle. It certainly wasn’t the Church as he claims. Why else was there a massive protest outside the church in response to the inflammatory sermon during Sunday mass when Cavanagh condemned the Land League and the Fenians – who were rightly organising popular resistance against the landlords and the evictions?

It was only two decades earlier that hundreds of decomposing corpses with grass in their mouths littered the fields around Knock. Many were poisoned on the coast by toxic seaweed. And this genocide was caused by the insatiable greed of those same landlords who were now evicting the survivors.

Does Sean not find it suspicious that the ‘apparition’ happened outside the church just a few days later? And if Cavanagh wasn’t directing this mischief why did he not come out to investigate the crowd and commotion outside his church, even after his housemaid called to inform him about it? His residence was in proximity and in full view of the church.

And Sean disputes the light beams in the sky. On the contrary it was these lights which first attracted the witnesses, some from more than a quarter mile away. And they are indeed consistent with an image being focused either from Cavanagh’s house below the church or somewhere on the hill between his house and the church. And finally, the witnesses described the scene as three figures motionless, beside an altar with winged angels above.

How does Sean explain the same scene etched on a glass window in a church in Ballyhaunis 15 miles away which predated the incident at Knock?

Belfast BT11


Money on offer from baffling budget seems over generous

The British chancellor delivered a budget which was in many commentators’ eyes an inducement to the phantom and quasi enterprise impersonating a functioning government, operating in this little region of the kingdom, with a population the size of the hinterland of York. The money on offer appears over generous and disproportionate. Having secured £320m for government departments plus £350m for a supposed city deal including £2m for the Primark area and a further £300m for integrated education – total £990m. The jubilation of the DUP was short lived as they realised their untrustworthy Tory paymasters had called their bluff and pulled the rug from beneath them.  

Similarly this money allocation is anomalous and requires a fair degree of clarification. The 2015 Fresh Start initiative, gloriously endorsed by the DUP, was to be given a £500m cash injection for various programmes, including integrated education; £160m earmarked for the PSNI and youth employment; £60m towards the dismantling of peace walls; £50m for a cross-border task force and £75m upgrading roads between Dublin, Strabane, Derry and Donegal – total £1.135bn to £2,125bn combined. There was also a commitment from political parties to end paramilitarism. 

This raises the question – is the money from the chancellor additional money to the Fresh Start total or is this a regurgitation of old money? 

Belfast BT1


Stop poppy charade

I was dismayed to see the Republic’s minister for justice at a meeting last Wednesday in Newcastle Co Down wearing the British poppy. What does it say about we Irish who have to seek the indulgence of our former colonial masters by the wearing their symbol of war, the poppy? People may try to say it is about remembrance, I am all for that. It is not. Has anyone seen the British wearing the Easter lily? Do I expect the British to wear the Easter lily? No I don’t.

Can we please stop this charade and stand up for honesty and truth about our history as there is a lot of revisionism going on in Ireland and it is not acceptable.

Clondalkin, Dublin 22


Impotent spectators

While the signatories of the most recent ‘Letter to Leo’ (November 5) will see the letter’s primary focus as a demand to ensure that the Irish government continues to work to protect rights endangered as a result of Brexit. How many of them are aware that implicit in that demand is a recognition that those representing nationalism within the north are currently impotent spectators.

Swatragh, Co Derry


It is understandable why 1,000 nationalists would express fear for their rights under any arrangement overseen by a Tory/DUP coalition.

However, pleading with a Fine Gael taoiseach for protection is unlikely to address their concerns in any meaningful manner.

Not only has Leo Varadkar’s party always displayed scant regard for the plight of those living in the six counties but Fine Gael’s current record of addressing the needs of people in the 26 Counties is deplorable. There is a monumental housing crisis in the Republic, a health service deemed recently as among the EU’s most unequal and a police force plagued by recurring scandal.

The 1,000 signatories have undoubtedly identified a problem but they would be well advised to look elsewhere for support.   

Co Monaghan

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