Sunday, August 13, 2006

Father Benignus, R.I.P.

It is probably a sign of advancing age that I am now inclined to scan the death notices in any paper I buy. Fortunately I only buy the Irish Times once a week on a Saturday.

I was sorry to see the notice of Fr. Benignus's death in last Saturday's paper. He was in Dún Mhuire, the Franciscan research house, in Killiney when I lived in Ballybrack.

He was a scholar who wore his scholarship lightly. He enjoyed the company of people and he was an island of irreverence in the sea of repressive authority that was then the prime characteristic of the Irish (Roman) Catholic Church.

A scholar needs to be both reverent and irreverent, each in its place. I remember being almost scandalised when Benignus told me he read Agatha Christie for relaxation. It just didn't seem right then. And he was also keen on the occasional limerick, like the following which he passed on to me:

There was a young lass from Cape Cod,
Who believed in intervention by God,
But 'twas not the Almighty
Who lifted her nightie,
But John, the lodger, the sod.

I'm sure himself and the Almighty will get on fine.

Mar Fhlaith ins na Flaithis go raibh tú.

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