Saturday, 28 February 2009


There is an ear that listening bends
Ere we for mercy plead
There is a grace which far transcends
Our utmost sense of need
There is a Friend whose goodness flows
Eternal as his throne,
Oh happy is the heart that knows
And calls that Friend its own

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Rabbits had overrun three churches in town. After much prayer, the elders of the first Presbyterian church determined that the animals were predestined to be there. Who were they to interfere with God's will? they reasoned. Soon, the rabbits multiplied.
The priests of the second church, run by the the Franciscan order ,deciding that they could not harm any of God's creatures, humanely trapped the rabbits and set them free outside of town. Three days later, the rabbits were back.
It was only the third Anglican church that succeeded in keeping the pests away. The vicar baptized the rabbits and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


(Christine Peloquin)
"Forgiveness is the economy
of the heart.…
forgiveness saves
the expense of anger,
the cost of hatred,
the waste of spirits."
Hannah More

Friday, 20 February 2009


15 th century Dutch

The king . . . held out to Esther the golden scepter. . . . Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.


“If he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.—Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.— For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.—We have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.—Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Esth. 5:2; Ex. 22:27; 1 John 4:16-19; Heb. 10:22;

Eph. 2:18; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


A youthful Aidan ponders !

My friend Aidan died just a year ago, he is warmly and fondly remembered and greatly missed by his family, friends and a wide circle who were touched by his generous life.


Is it just a single year
Since your sudden leaving ?
Seems more like a lifetime ago,
When on that black Tuesday
You pulled down the blinds,
On your rich and tortured life…
Exited, stage left
Unable to bear the pain,
Stifled one last wounded scream
And stepped into the Silence…

Stumbling here on the rough-trod path
Free falling to Eternal purpose.

Trust you are still now
At peace, with answers,
Loved and at last understood
And you understanding all mysteries,
All paradox and irony resolved,
Contentment for you dear friend
As you see beyond the Veil.

Is it just a year today ?
Since we heard your golden voice
Such a rush of days
Since we felt your kindness,
Looked into your searching eyes
In vain to reassure you,
That in His love all is well,
And in His time all would be revealed.

You know it now, better than we
You have traded at the very last
Substance for the hope of faith
And found that golden city
Built and kept by God.

Gerard O'Shea

Tuesday, 17 February 2009



The Bible is a large body of work comprising of 66 books within its covers, and sometimes for life’s emergencies it can be difficult to find just the right word for a particular situation. For such eventualities this list of selected verses may be useful, a sort of inspired Rescue Remedy for the troubled spirit.

Anxious For Dear Ones----Psalms 121 & Luke 17
Business is Poor---Psalms 37; 92 & Eccl 5
Christian Assurance---Romans 8:1-30
Courage for Your Task----Joshua 1
Discouraged---Psalms 23; 42 & 43 and Isaiah 40
Down & Out------Romans 8:31-39
Doubts Come Upon You-----John 7:17
Everything seems to go from bad to worse----2 Timothy 3 & Hebrews 13
Faith Needs Stirring----Hebrews 11
Friends seem to go back on you----Matthew 5 & 1 Corinthians 13
Men Fail You------Psalms 27
Sorrow Overtakes You-----Psalms 46; Matthew 28 & John 14
Tempted to do Wrong---Psalms 15; 19 & 139; Matthew 4 & James 1
Things Look Blue------Psalms 34; 71 and Isaiah 40
You Can't Go To Sleep-----Psalms 4; 56 & 130
You Have Quarrelled-----Matthew 18; Ephesians 4 & James 4
You are Weary-----Psalms 95:1-7 and Matthew 11
You Want Rest & Peace------Matthew 11:25-30
Wanting to Live Successfully with your Fellow Man---Romans 12
World Seems Bigger Than God-------Psalms 90

Sunday, 15 February 2009


I lift my heart as spring lifts up
A yellow daisy to the rain;
My heart will be a lovely cup
Altho' it holds but pain.
For I shall learn from flower and leaf
That colour every drop they hold,
To change the lifeless wine of grief
To living gold.
Sara Teasdale

Friday, 13 February 2009


Frank Phillips ~ R.I.P. ~
1923 - 2009
At Frank’s removal from Griffin’s funeral home yesterday
I shared these words as my tribute to a remarkable uncle.

He was an extraordinary man for many reasons and had several strings to his bow. The list of his interests included books, horses, darts, cats ,bikes (motor, pedal and electric !),working on the land, and reminiscing about days gone by. His precise memory of people, places and events stretching back into the distant past meant that he became the mainstay of our small family circle, being the repository of our family history. When questions arose over some half-remembered event Frank was our archive whose word on these matters was reliable and final.
One of his passions
On the evening of his death his power of recall seemed intact, even though he was having difficulty communicating . Tony and I sat by his hospital bed talking to Frank and doing our best to make sense of what he was saying, his speech having been impaired by the stroke. Earlier in the week I had heard on the radio that the last big snow to hit Ireland was in 1982 and before that in 1947, so as I shared this with Frank I was pretty sure that for once I'd have the last word ! I should have known better, he went back further than any of us and he said with great effort " 1936 ". So once again and for the last time I bowed to his superior memory.
I have a memory as a child listening to my mother reading aloud Frank's letters from England in which he recalled every stick and stone and twist and turn of his beloved Ballycannon. He went to England in 1960 and for almost 40 years worked there on the building sites. In his letters he would go up and down that country road ,enquiring about neighbours and reminiscing about the 'old days' Later as the letters got scarcer and the telephone was used, my mother would settle on a stool for a long session when he rang. My mother had a soft spot for 'Francie' (as we called him then), and always worried about him growing old in London. In fact just before she died she set the train in motion that allowed Frank to return to his native soil. Sadly she never lived to see him settled here but it gave here immense satisfaction to know that his return was imminent. And for the last eleven years he has lived within sight of the house where he was born, in the historic heart of Limerick, shadowed by King Johns Castle beside the Treaty Stone and near dear old Thomondgate.
With Tony and Ed Sweeney, fellow members
of the Dalcassian Motor Cycle Club at their
Christmas reunion in the Locke Bar.

Frank's prodigious memory allowed him to recite pieces of poetry appropriate to any occasion, and at the drop of a hat he would break into verse and at the end say rather sheepishly "I'm a mine of useless information!" We didn’t consider his contributions useless at all, in fact , we thought of it then, and especially now as a goldmine. In the hurly-burly of life he always seemed to take the time to stop and consider...whether as a young man engrossed in his precious books in the cottage at Ballycannon, or later working on the building sites of London, or more recently as he retraced the scenes of his early life walking or more often cycling out the Long Pavement over the Captains Bridge, turning left at the Sweeps Cross and up through Ballycannon, Ballycar and a young man, in middle age ,as he grew older he never lost that sense of wonderment at the ordinary commonplace things of life. One of Frank's expressions when something impressed him was "Mawervellous isn't it" And that's the way he said it "Mawervellous" And this is probably as fitting a description of his life as any, he was a mawervellous, remarkable man whose passing has left such a huge void in all of our lives.
On his bike !

He wasn't a religious man and the arrangements for today reflect what we believe would have been his wishes. On occasion the subject of faith and belief came up in our discussions and we always ended by agreeing to differ. Today I trust that on Franks final excursion he may yet be pleasantly surprised !
Gerard O'Shea
Frank's burial at Kilquane Cemetery, Parteen.

The Death Notice from the Irish Independent, Tuesday 10 th. February...

PHILLIPS (late of Ballycannon, Ardnacrusha, Co. Clare and London), at the Regional Hospital, Frank; sadly missed by his loving sister Bridie, brother Joe, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends. R.I.P. Memorial Service in Griffin's Funeral Home, John's Gate tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1 o'c. followed by Burial in Kilquane Cemetery, Parteen.

For previous blogs about Frank click on the links below…


Monday, 9 February 2009

FRANK PHILLIPS 1923 - 2009

Frank at Shannon Airport
in 1988 with myself,
Kathleen and mother
My uncle, Frank Phillips passed away at 1 a.m. this morning after a valiant battle against a debilitating stroke. All of his life a tenacious and resilient man, even in his last weeks this strength of character was evident as he tried to cope with all the restraints of his illness. Frank was the mainstay of our small family circle, and because of his incredible memory we came to look on him as the keeper of our family history. For his sister Bridie, for Tony my brother and for myself, Frank’s passing is such a huge loss, he has left a void in our lives that will never be filled.
I have often referred here to Frank’s love of poetry and his ability to recite poems learned at school from memory. One of his favourites was a piece written by W.H.Davies called ‘Leisure’ . Like the poet, Frank enthused about simple everyday things as he saw them through his own unique perspective and though his eyesight failed towards the end, his capacity for wide-eyed wonder remained.
Gerard O'Shea



What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.


No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.


No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.


A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.



Thursday, 5 February 2009


He lies among the lilies
under the tall leaves
where the earth is cool.

With pale green eyes
he surveys
the dazzle of the noonday,
the passage of a cabbage butterfly,
the dart of a humming bird,
the ravaging bee,
the whirr of sparrow wing.

He lies under the cool leaves
until he hears my step up the path.
Then he may rise, if he chooses, to greet me,
as he may blink in the sudden sun
when I part his cover,
and look away as if to say,
“I have too much to attend to.
Later please, not now.”

Oliver was the writer’s cat

Jane Tyson Clement

“Copyright 2007 by
Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.”

Wednesday, 4 February 2009


An Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman walk into a bar.
The bartender turns to them, takes one look, and says
"What is this - some kind of a joke?"

Sunday, 1 February 2009


When I am old, and comforted,
And done with this desire,
With Memory to share my bed
And Peace to share my fire,
I'll comb my hair in scalloped bands
Beneath my laundered cap,
And watch my cool and fragile hands
Lie light upon my lap.
And I will have a sprigged gown
With lace to kiss my throat;
I'll draw my curtain to the town,
And hum a purring note.
And I'll forget the way of tears,
And rock, and stir my tea.
But oh, I wish those blessed years
Were further than they be!
Dorothy Sayers


The new Celtic Tiger ?

The most visible indicator of Ireland’s full blooded participation in the so called ‘global economic downturn’ is the marked absence of ‘09 cars whizzing through the highways and byways of this fair isle ! So far this year (and I have been counting!) I have spotted 3 such just-left-the-showroom models, their pristine gleaming bodywork cocking a snoot at our plummeting economy. Recently released figures show that new car sales are down a whopping 60%. Now car dealers are not the first occupation that springs to mind in the sympathy stakes, along with solicitors , auctioneers and property developers they are well back in the queue of things that sadden us about recession. Job losses such as the 2,000 announced for Limerick giant Dell have had a devastating effect in this region and beyond, and though long flagged, still packed a punch when the announcement was made. One time (it seems a lifetime ago already!) our economy got the cute pet name of ‘Celtic Tiger’ now it seems more like a ‘Down and Out Teddy Bear’ and all the so called money gurus and advisers have been caught napping. Our only consolation , and the only one being offered by our dithering government is that we are not alone and we are part of a global network of downward spiralling economies. Our particular fall from monetary grace was hastened by some dodgy bankers and a burgeoning property-boom bubble that was just waiting to burst. And burst it has ,leaving thousands of home-buyers with houses that have been dramatically devalued, repaying inflated mortgages. We didn’t take a leaf out of the old Patriarch Joseph when he was put in charge of the Egyptian economy and wisely stored away grain during the years of plenty to see that country through their lean years (Genesis 41). During our boom there seems to have been little thought of any ‘lean’ period ahead and precious little provision was made for such an outcome. So here we are, the air heavy with talks of government-spending cuts, wage cuts, job losses, and even direr prospects to come. This once confident (some might say ‘arrogant’) nation has been reduced to a breeding ground of pervasive gloom and foreboding. The collective ‘strut’ is limping and the ‘feel good factor’ has been well and truly replaced by a ‘fear-filled factor’.
Is there any silver lining to this particular cloudy scenario ? Can economically straightened times return us to a more substantial and reality based lifestyle? Can, dare we hope it, a simpler lifestyle cause us to seek out those spiritual values that during more prosperous times have been put on the back burner ? Historically there is reason for hoping that less (in material terms) can really mean more (in spiritual terms). One of Jesus methods of teaching was to tell a good story and one such tale recounts the mortal state and the immortal state of the rich and the poor. In His account there was a rich man enjoying all the trappings of wealth, eating sumptuously, dressing in finery etc, and a poor man, Lazarus ,begging crumbs from his table covered in sores and barely alive. They both died, Lazarus going on to enjoy the bliss of ‘Abraham’s bosom’ (Heaven) and the rich man ending up tormented in Hell (Luke 16). The rich man it seems ,had allowed the possessions of this world to make him forgetful of his Creator while poor Lazarus had nothing else but his trust in God which sustained him through and beyond the hardships of this life. As the world becomes entrenched as our only home, we lose our pilgrim hearts which point us towards a city whose builder and founder is God Himself (Hebrews 11:10). Could this be our time to seek afresh the Kingdom of God and discover those ancient truths which once sustained this nation and its people ? As King Solomon reminds us, in God’s calendar as in ours there is an appointed time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3), this may be such a time when we are given the opportunity to open our hearts to the love of God poured out for us through His Son on the cross. As Jesus hung on that cross the soldiers beneath Him gambled for His robe, oblivious to the true worth of what was happening before their very eyes (John 19:24). Perhaps we too have been blinded by the ‘phony’ value attached to the baubles of the ‘Celtic Tiger’, now we need to look up and see Him who loves us and gave His life for us. Like poor Lazarus we must put our trust in Jesus and allow the worth of His sacrificial death to enrich our lives and rescue our wayward hearts.Then at last we too will find our way home, back to the Father, back to the Centre and ultimately to our everlasting home in Heaven.

Gerard O'Shea