There is a certain generation of man who would consider familiarity with the work of Christy Moore essential for authentic Irish citizenship. I was listening to Christy Live At The Point while we did Saturday morning pottering over the weekend and I was reminded of how great he is. For various tedious reasons, depending on the song, Christy Moore retrieves crystal clear memories of summertime family drives down to the West (“anyone for the last few Choc-Ices”) or SuperMarioKart on the SNES. Both memories are equally cherished.

Pause here to lament my generation and that last sentence.

Anyway, Christy has this fantastic song about the disgraced Bishop Eamonn Casey. In the first version of this song, Casey wasn’t the object of scorn. His ability to drink and drive recklessly is not endorsed but in a classically Irish way it is dealt with humourously. If the song was written about me I’d be happy to hear it- in an Irish friendly jibe kind of way, it is honouring. He’s called a “divil”. Tis a term of endearment so it is.

In the original version of the song there is a chorus about the time in the early 1980’s when Ronald Reagan visited Ireland.

When Ronnie Reagan came to Ireland all the wankers made a great furore
But Eamonn remembered bishop Romero said he’d even up the score
Casey Casey said God willin’ I’ll meet Reagan on the road
Niall O’Brien will hear his confessions when I’ve taught him the Green Cross Code

My initial blogpost was going to be about how impossible it is to conceive of a treasured Irish songwriter musing on attacking a sitting US President with their car! In the mid-1980’s when this song was written, Ireland was much more strongly pro-America than it is today. And yet even at the height of the Bush years, an Irish folk singer would never dare to pen lines as controversial (if hilarious) as this. File that observation under “9/11 changed everything” and other solemn lies.

As you can see from the lyrics, the song is drenched with the Catholic Church. It is about a priest, it references other priests as if you would know who they are and a Central American Bishop (Romero) is the hero of the piece.

Now listen to the version of the song that Moore sings these days. It is still deadly, but the bit about Reagan has been replaced with a bit about the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.

The new verse connects Casey with another philandering priest Michael Cleary and references the unfortunate woman who bore his son, Annie Murphy:

When the poor old Pope came to Ireland way back in that holy time
Eamon Casey and Michael Cleary served the Mass and poured the wine
Two jockey boys, they’d ride for Ireland, while preaching us morality
Sure God loved them, they’re only human. Annie Murphy might not agree

Ireland is a changing place.

Your Correspondent, He wants to go to heaven but he’s always digging holes.

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