remembering brian murphy of howth

Remembering Brian Murphy of Grace O Malley road, Howth (Spud’s son)

2020 was a big year for Brian. Liverpool won the League again after many years in the wilderness and the Covid plague struck. Mixed blessings.

Brian used to walk alone a lot around Howth. He used to drink in the woods near the Castle. His had his own wilderness journey, I suppose. A very harmless soul. Always pleasant and friendly. I always stopped and chatted to him. Regularly. He used to come to prayer meetings with me in Bayside in the 80s. His Dad spud Mick (Spud) Murphy was a great howth character too.  Mick was in a wheel chair in the end. He used to be always visible on the bike going about his gardening work. Another Howth legend, as indeed Brian was too, in a very humble, self deprecating way. God loves humble, gentle people. Deep poignant sadness envelops me now especially as United beat us two one on Sunday. Life can be cruel at times! Brian’s lovely mother, Marie, will miss him too.

“You will never walk alone” now, Brian. That is for sure.

At the end of the storm is a bright golden light

and the sweet silver sound of the lark

Remembering Joan Morton

Joan Morton Remembered

Wonderful mother- lovely family- a great credit to her.

Sincere- genuine- childlike but not childish.

Helpful- hard working- truly kind.

Caring- compassionate- a very good listener. Gifted counselor.

She helped me to qualify as a nurse, building my confidence greatly

and to risk the uncertain adventure of human love.

Hospitable- open house- always a welcome for everyone.

Fostered and encouraged many, many young people.

Great faith. Galway roots. Loved Galway. And also beautiful Howth.

Bore illness well. Kept going and never complained.

Was very determined to make most of life.

She had a hard life with many concerns borne with courage and wisdom.

Prayed. Quietly but consistently. Very stable personality.

Loved daily Holy Mass and the family Rosary

Deeply spiritual. And interested in all helpful spirituality.

Not narrowly religious. She had an expansive soul. Open to all humanity.

That is source of her great capacity for love and friendship.

Accepted husbands Peter’s death. A big setback.

Appreciated Peter’s own beautiful Christian faith and life.

Prayed hard for ecumenism. Was very united with Peter.

Christ’s greatest desire of unity among His children.

Worked hard to raise family. Developed her own talents eg. Painting.

Dedicated nurse. Loved her work though it could be difficult.

Knew her own limitations. Became more easygoing towards the end.

God rest her now. She deserves a rest.

Remembering Antoinette

Antoinette (Lawlor) Kilkenny

A few words about Antoinette:

I remember Antoinette serving sandwiches and not having one herself.

The kindest of the kind.

I remember her bringing out nice china and serving me tea and cake when I called on a Sunday afternoon.

I thought I was someone special.

She was.

She was passionate about Jesus.

Passionate about Mass. And about Our Lady.

Passionate about Truth.

Her father, Tony, and her husband, Joe,

were also my friends.

They were like earth wires for the Power of Merciful Love

that poured through Antoinette.

She saved my life. Really.

How many young people did she help.

And help at a spiritual level. Fruit that will last.

I remember Antoinette when she got sick. So very sick.

Her dignity. Her desire to keep praying.

Her acceptance. Childlike gentleness.

She was gutsy.

She did not trust the people behind the EU empire building.

Though she Loved Pope John Paul 2nd

And his vision for Europe

Memories of my Uncle John

Memories of Uncle John (4-12-22)

Yesterday was my Uncle John Sheeran’s 20th anniversary. It was also my Dad’s 5th anniversary. John was a very big influence on me as was John Jnr. Dr John.

I spent happy teenage summers in magical, hospitable Mullinasole with Lottie eating their Calvita cheese or was it Galtee? And playing Cluedo. They were very good to me. Great times out on the ‘Mary Kate’ boat, swimming and fishing. His own work. He built the Mary Kate. An amazing man, really. Very talented.

John was a legend in many ways eg keeping bees, pigeons and hunting dogs. He was very gifted with his hands. Very artistic. I think he was a reader too. Mullinasole was awash with books. His death was sudden and premature, a bit like my wife, Maura’s brother Pat Hooper. Unexpected.

John was quite a serious guy. He had grandfather’s gravity. He was like grandfather in many ways. He could get angry. But he also liked Brendan Grace “Bottler”. Those old tapes in the car. Great laughs.

I did not get talking to John as much as to Joe and Charlie. Like Uncle Paul, John kept himself busy. He was an active doer. Very energetic. John did not confide much in me really. He did not do much small talk. In those days, before I got married, I was very unmaterialistic. Very idealistic/unrealistic. John had hearing problems too. He threw his hearing aids into a lake once in frustration!

John’s real experience of the world of money as a bank manager was not on my youthful wavelength, really. I was a bit of a dreamer. As they say “Love is blind. And marriage is an eye opener”. Family was his big thing.

Also the Troubles in the North soured living in Magherafelt in County Derry for many years. He was most himself in nature in Donegal eg fishing for brown trout with an otter board up in lakes in the hills. He minded his family well. All v bright.

We had fishing in common. At 17, I was a keen angler. And a fly tier. Before I got the Religion Bug age 20. I also worked in Timoney’s Factory when I was 15. A good experience. Happy, sunny memories of beautiful Donegal and a very special soul.

Memories of my uncle Joe

Memories of Uncle Joe (4-12-22)

Uncle Joe Sheeran, “Big Joe”, is 13 years dead this Tuesday December 6th.

I have very happy memories of him. I really liked him and enjoyed talking to him.

Once I brought my slightly pretentious artistic friend, Michael Connaughton, from Howth, to visit Joe in Mountcharles. Michael was a government artist, as they say. All his life, he drew the dole!

Anyhow, Michael told Joe he was organising a Poetry Festival.

“Oh” says Joe “and what does a Poultry festival involve?”

Then Joe asked Michael “Do you pay much tax?”

You had to laugh. Joe had a great way of winding you up!

I have so many good memories of Big Joe. And he was big.

He loved his grub. A Matson failing. The big-boned Northeners. My genes too.

Actually Joe was named Joseph Matson Sheeran, I think.

I am 18 stone myself now. Back then, I swore I would never end up too heavy.

I used to lecture Joe on the importance of walking! God forgive me…..

“Anno Domine” as my Dad would say. The years pass….

We talked about  so much. We covered a lot of ground. Joe had a few hobby horses that you had to steer around. I always felt welcome in Joe’s. I was single then and glad of warm, comfortable refuges where my strong Christian Faith was accepted.

Joe had good humour too. He ying and yanged great with Máire. She is still holding her own.

He always encouraged me strongly to get married. I was not sure back then if maybe i was meant to stay single for the Lord.

He was right. My happiness in life really only started when i got married. 10 years ago now.

Many times he told me how he met Máire and fell in love. He knew straight away she was the one for him.

We shared a lot in our conversations. He trusted me and liked me. He was clever too. As he got older, he was not so well. We became deeper in our discussions.

God, I loved Joe.  I was not unaware of some of his weak points.

John Collins, my old Howth friend, used to say “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter”.

Joe’s love of his family shone through. His pride in his work was also important. Young Joey really inherited this gift.

Joe is a warm glow in my mind. I know he was a bit of a lovable rogue, in some ways, like Shakespeare’s Falstaff, but he was good to me. He was a good friend to me.

Memories of my grandfather John Sheeran

My Grandfather John C. Sheeran (1901- 1980) Appreciated

I always associate my grandfather, John Sheeran, (his own family called him ‘Jack’), with Stonepark, Mountcharles, the very old house where he and his wife, Matilda (Matson), retired to in the early 1960’s.

Matilda died first in the early 70’s so my Grandad was on his own on the small farm for a long number of years until he died himself in 1980. He stuck it well.

For me Stonepark was a magical place. Our family spent many summer holidays there making the hay. It was very atmospheric. A big old stone house surrounded by trees with a heart-shaped walled garden in front of it and a long driveway down to the road which was called the Doorin Line leading to Mountcharles village and the local church of the Sacred Heart where granny and grandfather are buried. About 4 miles from Donegal town.

I remember especially the rugged back lane where grandfather would stroll up to count the cattle. He was never in a hurry and everything happened according to plan. At the top of the lane he would stop and have a ritual non tipped Players Navy Cut cigarette and survey his land. The old dog house was on one side of the lane and the paddock where we burned bonfires of branches we had cut down was on the other. The walls were stone walls. Stonepark was a hill of stone. Beside is a big quarry where Mc Monigles made a fortune selling Donegal stone. A bright reddish yellow colour. Very distinctive. I have some in my wee back garden here in Baldoyle.

Grandfather also used to sit reflectively in the front porch and look out over the bay. Donegal bay. South Donegal with Sligo across the Bay. He loved cowboy books eg. Zane Grey. You could see the old pear tree from the porch too where we kids played for hours on a great swing.

On sunny days, granny and grandfather would sit outside the porch and take the sun to the sound of Uncle John’s bees buzzing around the vegetable garden nearby or his pigeons cooing. Sometimes you would hear a cuckoo.

Grandfather came from a farm in Laois before he joined the National Bank and rose up to be a Bank Manager. He loved the land and planted a lot of trees. A belt of conifers surrounding his land shelter against the strong winds which could be very cold when they came from the North. Donegal is on the Atlantic coast. Behind Stonepark were the magnificent radiant Blue Stack mountains. Grandfather fished a lot and shot too. He was a great shot and a great golfer. A dead eye Dick.

He was bank manager in Donegal town and later in Killybegs where my mother, Mary, met my late father, Tom Wickham in the 50’s. Mam grew up in Donegal.

When I was 15, in 1978, I spent a whole summer alone with my grandfather and cycled into work in a Picture Frame factory in Donegal town. Timoney’s. I became very fond of grandfather. He called me his ‘workman’. I had a special affinity with him. I was the eldest grandson. We became close. He is in me still.

I will have much more to say about him. So many beautiful memories of such deep importance and meaning.

memories of my grandmother matilda

Memories of Granny Sheeran (Matilda Matson)


I was  recalling today Grandfather Sheeran whose anniversary is coming up  soon on November 30th. This is also  Granny Sheeran’s birthday.

He died on her birthday. This was hardly a coincidence. They were a love match. That is for sure. She left her people in the North to marry him. In a very real way.

By becoming a Catholic, she was rejected by some Protestants in her family

and still suspected by some narrow minded Catholics down South.

Those were the not so good old  days before  Vatican 2.

She died in 1974. I was 11. My memories  are  vague.

I  remember seeing her body laid out. My first time ever  seeing a dead body.

I remember the phone call early that morning she died.

She said “John, I am going”. He said “Don’t be ridiculous, Old Girl”.

I remember the room where she died. It became Kate’s room. Very Mysterious.

I know she suffered from  arthritis.  I used to see her hobbling in the morning.

I think she took Indomethacin. Dr Nolan kept her going. She had heart failure too.

I remember her making eggs-in-the-dish on the range in the kitchen.

Mam still  loves an egg in the dish, as we always called it.

I remember Granny’s chair in the Stonepark sitting room.

Mam sits in a  similar chair in the same position in the room. In  evora park.

What an influence Granny Sheeran was. She was very alive in Mam and in Kate.

And I see her alive in my two very different sisters too. Nora  and Mary Ag.

The ‘Ag’ comes from Agnes Fulton, Granny’s mother.

Mam is also Mary Agnes. Mary Ag and Mam have those wide Matson hips too.

Very strong built people. Sturdy.  Great readers. Very learned. Broad minded.

Granny was a doctor. So was her father Joseph Matson. And her Grandfather.

Now Nora’s daughter, Eleanor, is starting to study Medicine. Interesting.

It was very revolutionary to be a woman doctor in the 1930’s. Pioneering.

Matilda was very intelligent. Brilliant, i would say. Young John Sheeran became a top doctor too. Jane became a Pharmacist and married Philip Purcell, a GP. I wanted to be a doctor too but ended up eventually as a nurse specialist in dementia. God has his own plans…. I married a great nurse  too. Maura Hooper. RGN and RPN. Grandfather was John Camillus, Patron Saint of male nurses.

Mam and Kate were both top nurses. They could easily have been doctors but culture in the 50’s  favoured educating the boys first.

Nora is an optician and a brilliant one. So is Eleanor. Nora’s husband, Sean, is son of another brilliant doctor, also called Sean Dunne.

Dad met Granny on the bus to Killybegs. His first trip. About 1950. He was very impressed with her. Dad was highly intelligent too and deeply religious. And very Medically minded also. The rest is history, Dad met Mam. Paid Mc Gee’s Pharmacy  was next door to the National Bank House, where Grandfather was manager. Mam was about 19.

Once Granny tried to remove a wart from my finger in Stonepark. She came at me with a needle. I ran away terrified. Funny the memories of children.  I remember Granny’s white hair. Like a Lioness. I remember her goodness, kindness, strength.

She would only cut bread one slice at a time so as not to waste any

“Waste not, want not” was her motto. Food was big. A sign of sharing love.

I remember her home made fudge too and Apple Charlotte. Mam loves fudge.

Fr John Jordan CSSP

A Spiritan who helped me a lot


There has been a lot of negativity in the last while in our rabidly anti Catholic media about the Spiritans.  Extremely unbalanced and prejudiced. OTT. Wolves.

In an effort to retain some sanity and balance, I would like to remember one great man who helped me a lot, Fr John Jordan CSSP. It was back in the hungry 80’s.

Fr Jordan was a retired missionary living in a little house in quiet Bulloch harbour attached to Our Lady’s Manor lovely nursing home in Dalkey.

I can’t remember the year but it was some time after my radical conversion in Lourdes in June 1983. The turbulent 80’s. Live Aid 1985. Berlin Wall fell 1989.

After Lourdes, i got involved in charismatic renewal  prayer in bayside with a young Fr Michael Hurley (now of Parish Cells fame – Great Web Site, way to go….)

My friend Peter Mc Namara put me in touch with the Healy family who were friends  of Fr Jordan  and recommended him as  an excellent  spiritual director.

Fr Hurley may have left Bayside at this stage which would explain why I was looking elsewhere for guidance. Mid 80s. Taizē was popular too. And Medugorje.

I remember in August 1986, I rang Fr Michael enthusiastically from America saying i thought i was meant to become a priest. I rang Vincentian Fr Kevin Scallon too.

Then I contacted the vocations director in All Hallows, Fr Walsh, with a view to becoming a diocesan priest in an American diocese. Anyhow, Fr Jordan wisely did not think I was cut out to be a priest. He was right. This just shows how helpful good spiritual guidance can be. Vocational guidance is very needed for young folk.

I had packed in the Pharmacy degree, the 4th year of which I was struggling hard to complete in TCD, and had a stress breakdown/breakthrough then recovered to become a humble pharmacy technician helping my mother, Mary, in our family Pharmacy in Neilstown in north clondalkin. The ‘Wild West’. Dad joined us there a few years later until 1996. I was VERY idealistic in those very impoverished days.

Here in Dublin West, thanks to the guidance of Fr Aidan Carroll, i met Fr Cathal Price and got roped, directly by God, into helping organise 29 annual Divine Mercy conferences in the RDS with Don Devaney, now Deacon Don. The Conferences were based in Baldaddy, where i got digs with Patricia ‘Pat’  Murphy, who is still there, in her 80s now. Fr Price moved to Kilbarrack in 1997. He retired in 2013. He is still there.  The 32nd Conference is back next Feb 18th, 19th 2023 RDS.

Fr Jordan was very gifted. He prayed a lot, as charismatics do. Very Eucharistic. He also highly recommended liturgical prayer. He had great stories of Pentecostal like miracles in Nigeria where he worked with the famous Bishop Shanahan. He told me “I am a Scripture animal”. That really influenced me then and still does now.

My spiritual director now also emphasises the simple Gospels as does the Pope.

I think there are more than 200  million Catholics in Nigeria now, thanks in no  small way to the Irish Holy Ghost  fathers, now called Spiritans, who were missionaries there in the 1930’s. Hard to imagine those very tough days now.

Once, Fr John was praying in his little house in Dalkey and a ‘word’  came suddenly into his mind out of the blue: “The eye will be healed”

Then, amazingly, his phone rang and a frantic mother begged for prayers for her child who had badly injured his eye with some sharp object, an arrow, I think.

In Faith, Fr John said “the eye will be healed”……it is Faith that heals……

He got prayers going eg the Carmelites in Our Lady’s Manor, and in various prayer groups, and miraculously the child’s eyesight was inexplicably saved.

Divine Mercy Conference RDS 2023

Main hall RDS

February 17th, 18th and 19th

speakers include:

Fr Hayden Williams OFM (Cap) from Malta

Fr Eunan Mc Donnell SDB

Fr Chris Alar MIC (USA)

Fr James Blount SOLT (USA)

Sr Marie Clare Kenneally OLM

Fr Éamon Mc Carthy – Radio Maria

Archbishop Dermot Farrell (Dublin)

Host: Deacon Don Devaney


“Act justly, love mercifully

and walk humbly with your God” – (Micah 6:8)


useful youtubes

understanding dementia has been helped by youtube.

several short but useful videos are available now.

easily accessible on a smartphone.

if you just look up ‘tom kitwood’,

or ‘person-centred care’,

you will see what i mean.

this might help people who are not naturally studious/bookworms

but who are genuinely curious and interested